Gutenberged Dept.


An interesting breakdown of the ecological consequences of the e-book vs. the printed book. The short version is that you need to buy about 50-100 e-books before it pays for itself, environmentally speaking.

This sounds like it should be a shoo-in for a voracious reader like me, but it's not that simple. The biggest problem I have with e-readers is that they're not books, and reading on them is still deeply distracting. I chalk this up to generational differences: I wasn't raised reading from a screen, and so I suspect people who grow up surrounded by this sort of thing won't mind one bit. From what I can tell, they love it, and I can see why: you don't lose your place, you can find any phrase by typing, and so on.

But the effort required to train myself to read on one of those things hardly seems worth it when most of what I want to read isn't even available in this format in the first place. I don't read paper books because they're "better" (although there's an argument to be made there), I read them because right now that's the only way to get what I want. Nine-tenths of the books I seek out aren't available in any digital form at all, and there's not much cost savings, if only because most of the real cost of making any book is not materials but paying everyone involved along the way whose name isn't on the cover.

The ecological side of it has another dimension not encompassed by the article. Books are inherently lendable. E-books, less so. A friend of mine wanted to buy me a copy of a certain Kindle book as a gift and couldn't really do that: he had to buy me a gift card with the ASIN of the book in question as the gift note.


Tags: books e-books links reading technology




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