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Old 08-20-2008, 11:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
Umm no. At best you can include the cost of eink devices in the cost of ebook infrastructure, which is a fixed cost (independent of the number of ebooks produced). And the infrastructure costs for pbooks are way higher.
No, of course you can include the costs of ebook research into the costs for ebook devices. And honestly I don't see how the cost would be fixed, if every person of the world would want an ebook device, you need of course more factories.

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Also in a few years dedicated ebook readers will be replaced by multifunction devices with reflective screens.
Who knows? You cannot say anything with "scientfic certainity" about the future. Or make such a claim without weaking adverbs like "likely", "possibly", "hopefully", etc. You can prolong trends from the past to the present, and hope or claim they don't suddendly move different, than they have so far, but that does not make a "will" sentence...
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:25 AM   #17
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Not sure if this has been mentioned, but more and more data centres and other such network/internet players are 'going green' and carbon-neutral and all that good stuff. It's quite the hype. And also, I would have a computer + internet regardless of my ereading habits so not sure if you'd need to count that.

I do wonder how environmentally unfriendly the reader devices are....
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:27 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by axel77 View Post
No, of course you can include the costs of ebook research into the costs for ebook devices. And honestly I don't see how the cost would be fixed, if every person of the world would want an ebook device, you need of course more factories.



Who knows? You cannot say anything with "scientfic certainity" about the future. Or make such a claim without weaking adverbs like "likely", "possibly", "hopefully", etc. You can prolong trends from the past to the present, and hope or claim they don't suddendly move different, than they have so far, but that does not make a "will" sentence...
I am talking about the marginal cost of producing (ep)-books. The cost of manufacturing ebook devices (or trucks to deliver pbooks) does not enter into the calculation.

You should also note that there is no such thing as "scientific certainty" about anything. So trying to dismiss my statement as not being "scientifically certain" is specious.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:31 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
I am talking about the marginal cost of producing (ep)-books. The cost of manufacturing ebook devices (or trucks to deliver pbooks) does not enter into the calculation.
I see where you are coming from - but pbooks are useful by themselves, and ebooks require some kind of device to be useful.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:34 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by acidzebra View Post
I see where you are coming from - but pbooks are useful by themselves, and ebooks require some kind of device to be useful.
So what? We are discussing cost to environment (usefulness or not is irrelevant).

Last edited by kovidgoyal; 08-20-2008 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:38 AM   #21
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I am talking about the marginal cost of producing (ep)-books. The cost of manufacturing ebook devices (or trucks to deliver pbooks) does not enter into the calculation.
We are circling already. As I said before the calculation is wrong doing only marginal costs. You have to calculate what environment damage you do buy buying an eInk device every X years instead of just buying books.

The question is not, now that I have an eInk device, is it more environment friendly to buy the next book in electronic or in paper format. The question is: Is it more environment friendly to stick with pBooks or to go for eInk devices and eBooks. And this is a question I see as to be complicated enough to be valued in both ways, depending which bias you have, you will likely come out with different results.

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You should also note that there is no such thing as "scientific certainty" about anything. So trying to dismiss my statement as not being "scientifically certain" is specious.
True enough. Lets just say "in the future devices will be like this or that", are likely to raise at least my alertness, as how often in the past have we been wrong estimating how the future will look like?
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:39 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
So what?
Well, you can produce a zillion ebooks at zero cost simply by copying but without a reader device you won't get any use from them, so when comparing the cost of e vs. p it seems reasonable to factor in the devices you need to render them useful in any way.

Don't shoot me, I didn't go on about the "scientific" stuff.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:51 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by axel77 View Post
We are circling already. As I said before the calculation is wrong doing only marginal costs. You have to calculate what environment damage you do buy buying an eInk device every X years instead of just buying books.

The question is not, now that I have an eInk device, is it more environment friendly to buy the next book in electronic or in paper format. The question is: Is it more environment friendly to stick with pBooks or to go for eInk devices and eBooks. And this is a question I see as to be complicated enough to be valued in both ways, depending which bias you have, you will likely come out with different results.



True enough. Lets just say "in the future devices will be like this or that", are likely to raise at least my alertness, as how often in the past have we been wrong estimating how the future will look like?
My original post addressed this as well. The point was to provide a methodology for analysing this question. The forst step is to split it into two parts:

1) Marginal cost
2) Cost of supporting infrastructure

It is obvious that ebooks are the clear winners on 1). Now realize that two is roughly a constant (i.e. it changes very little with increasing number of (ep)books). 1) on the other hand is unbounded - the difference in cost keeps on growing the larger the number of (ep)books there are. Therefore in the long term 1) will always dominate 2) no matter how large 2) is.

Note that it is this argument that really makes technological progress worthwhile. The infrastructure costs for any new technology are always higher than for an older technology. It is the lower marginal cost (in other words the greater efficiency), over the long term, that makes the new technology worthwhile.
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:56 AM   #24
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Well, you can produce a zillion ebooks at zero cost simply by copying but without a reader device you won't get any use from them, so when comparing the cost of e vs. p it seems reasonable to factor in the devices you need to render them useful in any way.

Don't shoot me, I didn't go on about the "scientific" stuff.
Not really, you cant produce a zillion ebooks by copying alone. You also have to distribute the copies to a zillion people. Having a zillion copies of an ebook on your hard drive is equivalent to having one.

My point was that ebook devices are part of the infrastructure of ebooks, just as printing presses are part of the infrastructure of pbooks. What does it mean to be "infrastructure"? It means that the cost of producing the infrastructure grows very slowly with the number of books being produced. For example, if you build a printing press your additional "infrastructural" cost of producing the pbook will not change until you reach the capacity of the printing press.

Non infrastructural costs are things like paper, ink and fuel (for ditribution) that increase with every new pbook produced and distributed. For ebooks non infrastructural costs are almost zero (basically tiny additional capacity on the internet and storage space on your hard drive).
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Old 08-20-2008, 11:58 AM   #25
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If you keep throwing away your ereader after two years of use and buying the newer better model (see also: ipods) that might not be entirely true. You can get a lifetime+ out of a good book.

And what about recycling/disposal costs of e vs p?
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:00 PM   #26
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Not really definitive answerable, suppose I have following mini-economy.

Total needs of this economy is 5 product units per year

Costs for technology A:
Marginal: 5$ per unit
Infrastructure: 10$ per year.
Total costs: 5*5$ + 10$: 35$ a year

Costs for technology B:
Marginal: 1$ per unit
Infrastructure: 40$ per year
Total costs: 5*1 + 40 = 45$ a year..
---
Just to explain as example. It really boils down to how much environment damage does the eInk device including batteries in construction and destruction take? This is a question you cannot answer with a finger flick.

Also you have secondard effects, like less paper books, is less recycleable material, is more wood use on other paper products, like toiletpaper.
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:08 PM   #27
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@axel77

yeah but the essential point is that the number of books per year is not 5 its 5 billion. So the marginal cost will dominate. And so yes the question is answerable with a finger flick.

@AZ

Even if you keep throwing away your reader after a couple of years, you will still read on the order of a 100 books/zines whatever on them, which means that the number of readers needing to be produced will be two orders of magnitude smaller than the number of books.
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:14 PM   #28
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yeah but the essential point is that the number of books per year is not 5 its 5 billion. So the marginal cost will dominate. And so yes the question is answerable with a finger flick.
On the other hand you have billions of people buying electronic devices every 2 years which are really not easy on environment to produce. No, its not answerable with a flinger flick.
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:22 PM   #29
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@axel77
See my reply to acidzebra
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Old 08-20-2008, 12:27 PM   #30
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you will still read on the order of a 100 books/zines whatever on them, which means that the number of readers needing to be produced will be two orders of magnitude smaller than the number of books.
Yes, I agree. But that merely brings me back to what I was wondering all along - whether producing, distributing, and then recycling/disposing a hundred pbooks would weigh heavier on the environment than producing, distributing, and then recycling/disposing one reader device. There is a tipping point, I just don't know where it is.
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