This post is supposed to be about how Amazon sold a whole sh*tload of Kindles over the holidays, but questions how green the devices are.
Here's the thing. I'm an ebook author, who also supports indie bookstores and sells print editions of my books, even if the stores won't carry them, because
One of those things that still bring a twinge of sadness is the slow death of independent book-stores. As an avid reader and one that loves to browse around second-hand bookshops, on the lookout for a bargain or a rare read, I will miss the romance of it all as the world is rapidly shifting toward e-books. E-books, of course, have functionality and convenience but not the fresh-paper smell or other associations that we have with real books.
I'm also a big fan of independent bookstores. In fact, I've blogged about how I'd like to throw them my support. This has led to a series of posts on that blog about indie bookstores, that I hope have been helpful and fun.
You'll notice I suggested that indie bookstores start blogs, because you can sell anything online. Not just ebooks, of course.
Besides, authors don't see dime one from the sale of used books. So, we don't sustain a living from those sales at all.
And, furthermore, a story is just as real in ebook format as in print. No one says that audiobooks aren't real, do they? Why do they say that about ebooks? What's the deal? Seriously?
One of the biggest selling e-readers, Amazon’s Kindle has had a whopper year. The company recently announced that 2011 was the best holiday ever for the Kindle family as customers purchased millions of Kindle Fires and millions of Kindle e-readers. The company also notes that sales of e-books were up 175 percent over last year, between Black Friday and Christmas Day.
Just so you know, Kindle isn't the only widely-used ereader in existence, okay? There's Nook, there's Kobo, there's iPad, Sony and all sorts of other devices. You'd think Amazon sold practically the only device on the planet from reading this. And that's not good.
The reigning debate that still remains is: which one is greener? The Cleantech Group reckons that the Kindle is the greener way to read. A study by the Cleantech Group found that the Kindle is able to fully offset its carbon emissions in the first year of use, as long as the owner downloads more than 22 books in a year, and additional years of use result in net carbon savings equivalent to an average of 168 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
Good lord! I suspect most Kindle owners download that many books in a month or less, easily. The amazingly low price of ebooks and the ease of purchase are factors that explain this.
Throughout the month of December, according to Amazon, well over 1 million Kindle devices were purchased per week. All this will eventually add up to a huge amounts of e-waste, which is an environmental problem. Amazon’s refusal to be transparent about its production as well as carbon emissions are also causes for concern. Consumer pressure or a large scale campaign can change this but so far, the figures that are available are only guesstimates.
Yeah, well. God knows what Amazon isn't telling us. And if you're really concerned about indie bookstores, I suggest you read this post, post-haste.
My fellow blogger at Triple Pundit, Raz Godelnik, CEO of Eco-Libris, a company working towards a sustainable book industry reckons that an e-book can be a greener option if you are a voracious reader and do not upgrade too soon. A New York Times analysis seems to support Raz’s conclusion and it says that an e-reader can offset around 40 books. Therefore, if you replace five books a year, it will take around eight years before you’ve offset your carbon footprint.
As I said before, no problemo!
Considering that, in a few years down the line, paper books may well be obsolete, it is essential for e-reader manufacturers to become more transparent about their sustainability. Amazon, as the market leader, should lead the way. I did really want to buy a Kindle but I think I will put it off until Amazon comes up with some verified numbers. In the meantime, I’ll continue to mosey around secondhand bookshops and libraries.
I love libraries, of course. I'm a librarian. It would be sacrilege to say otherwise. Besides, did you know that libraries carry ebooks now? Well, they do and have been for some time.
And speaking of sustainability, did you forget to mention the indie bookstores?
Because if you're going to mosey around used bookstores, the indies are not going to last very long. And neither will authors.