Thursday, February 26, 2009

Green Tech Review: Will the Kindle Save Trees?

Note: As a book fanatic, I've been somewhat ambivalent about devices like the Kindle. But my collegue and fellow bibliophile Megan Grover makes a strong case that the Kindle has some very real benefits for the environment. Megan will now be blogging at Idaho Nature Notes on green technology and green living.--Matt Miller

Will Amazon’s newest Kindle have readers seeing green?

Later this month, Amazon will be shipping out the next generation of its portable wireless reading device, the Kindle 2.0.

This updated version will provide a sleeker design, improved display and a battery with 25% more life. Like its predecessor, the Kindle 2 allows you to wirelessly download books and periodicals in less than 60 seconds using a cellular network, so no searching for a WiFi hotspot.

Even more impressive, weighing in at less than 11 ounces, this handheld gadget is able to store an incredible 1,500 books on the memory card that comes standard. Unlike most e-readers that use a backlight similar to a computer screen, the Kindle’s electronic ink technology reads just like real paper and doesn’t strain your eyes. Other irresistible features include a built-in dictionary, a highlighter to mark your favorite passage, and a feature that allows you to dog-ear a page.

While dedicated bibliophiles may not be convinced by the Kindle’s technological prowess, its green implications might be more persuasive.

According to the report Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts: Findings from the U.S. Book Industry prepared by the Green Press Initiative, the creation and distribution of a conventional book releases up to 8.85 pounds of greenhouse gases.

For an industry that produces over 14 billion books a year that equates to approximately 12.4 million metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

With the use of recycled paper in the production of books at only 5%-10%, it takes more than 30 million trees to produce the virgin paper used for the books sold in the U.S. annually.

Amazon anticipates the average Kindle reader will download between 10 to 15 books a year. With 750,000 Kindles expected to be in circulation by 2009 U.S. book production would be reduced by 11,250,000. That is a reduction of 45,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases.

Anticipated sales for 2010 put 2.2 million units into circulation. That is a reduction of 33 million books produced annually.

The Kindle also shines as an electricity miser. The electronic ink system doesn’t require power to maintain the screen; it is only required to change the display. Reading power is measured in page turns instead of operating time. With the wireless turned off, you can literally read for days or weeks on a four hour charge.

Although the Kindle doesn’t look to be threatening the existence of your local library or bookstore, its future looks bright – or at least green. But beyond this green potential, you will find a device that will change the way you read. With over 240,000 books, magazines, and newspapers at your fingertips you won’t ever catch yourself thinking "I wish I had something to read" again. --Megan Grover

1 comment:

Stephanie Hansen said...

Great info Megan- I look forward to reading more of your entries- I have learned something new today! Thanks.