Ramakant Yadav the Internet edition

Random Ramblings Of Ramakant Yadav

28 February 2011

Are e-readers a good way to read books? I guess the answer depends upon who you ask. The cost would probably work out for people who do a lot of reading. A whole lot of e book readers are available that make it easy and fun for people to read documents on a screen. The fact that you can control the font size makes it easy and convenient for people with impaired vision to read e books. Nothing beats the form factor of an e book reader. You can have 20 books with you on the aeroplane or have hundred books with you in the bedroom without crowding out all the other people in your life.

But what is the environment cost of an e-book reader? For a person who reads 50 books a year and uses the e-book reader for 10 years, the environment cost would actually be lesser than buying as many physical books in the same period. True, books are printed on paper, and paper is a renewable resource. However when doing a cost comparison, one also has to take into account the cost of transporting the physical book from the factory to the library or from the factory to the home. If the book is read in a library, then one has to also take into account the total cost of the reader moving from his physical home to the physical library. For a population that is spread out over a large physical area, it does not make environmental sense to travel to a library just for reading one book or loaning a book.

Of course, there are the personal advantages of being up and about in the open air which cannot be compared to staring at a glass screen all day. But from an environment point of view, it makes more sense to use the Internet to buy books and read them on an e-reader. Unless, of course, you live in a location which has a high population density and it makes more sense to walk to the library rather than drive around. Then there is the ever present problem of sharing books that you have already read, there is no way of giving away that electronic book to your neighbors, friends or relatives. Once you buy an electronic book, you are stuck with it until you decide to get rid of it. The entire social aspect of passing on books to others is missing. At the end of the day, you still need to recharge that battery in the reader. E-books are mostly priced at the same level as the regular book, but the e-book has a recurring cost in terms of electricity. The regular book also has the recurring cost of physical storage. However, when you do tire of the physical book, you can sell it to someone else.
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