eBooks vs Books Comparison: Green and Greener
Do ebooks encourage consumerism and reduce environmental consciousness? Or are ebooks a eco-friendly alternative to books.
EBooks allow a user to read novels, biographies and autobiographies, and even textbooks online. Eliminating paper use, books can be downloaded to a user’s computer, PDA, and cell phone. Users, able to read online, can build a library without leaving their home. Promoted as a “green” technology, eBooks appear to reduce waste, consumerism, and nonrenewable resources. However, eBooks do not accurately portray environmental consciousness to users. EBooks encourage users to use more electricity, to view the “book” as less of a material resource and to give it less emotional value, and to rely on the not “green” consumerism.
Users reading books online, from phones, or from PDAs, likely will be less environmentally mindful in the long run. While they save hundreds of pieces of paper by reading a paperless book, they spend more money on a new technology and thus more time on their computer. Users run the risk of being distracted by other websites while reading their book, and will likely not finish reading. They will instead look at other products online, or use e-mail for hours.
EBook websites state that their technologies serve those “on the move,” those who cannot wait a couple days for their book to be delivered to them, and those who want to scan an entire book in seconds. Reading books online seems environmentally more efficient, but in reality it reduces comprehension of the text, does not increase environmental awareness or provide future ways to save paper, and encourages online use and purchases. “Green” because it does not waste paper, reading books online still does not save resources for the long term. Users who read a book online will not be more likely to save resources of their own accord; they utilize the eBook because of its availability to them.
The general public stresses doing more activities online, labeling them “green.” However, buying online instead of shopping in stores, talking to people through e-mail or “chatting” instead of going to coffee with them, and reading books from the computer or phone instead of going to bookstores and perusing the shelves result in long term disadvantages. Those who buy online tend to spend more money because of the likelihood to make “impulse buys.” Those who meet with people online often spend more time at home and will be less productive in using renewable resources. Those who read books online will perhaps not challenge themselves to save paper and money in future years.
More “green” buying does exist. Buying used print books in bookstores saves money, paper, and publishing costs. It increases awareness and enriches the reader’s mindset by reading something tangible, something someone already used and read. While it requires more effort and search, going into bookstores gives the “book” emotional value, and makes the buyer think more consciously of their purchase. Being able to buy online can make one buy heedlessly, and because the product comes directly after the purchase, reduces patience and awareness in the buyer.
The public’s overall wasteful mindset can be changed. EBooks can be more “green” if they promote use of renewable resources, along with the advantage of being able to read from one’s own phone. EBook websites could give a small profit to an environmental fund, or explain what one saves by reading online or from a phone. EBook companies stress the convenience of being able to read from a screen, not the environmental advantages by doing so.