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Old 08-20-2008, 03:12 PM   #46
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Done, I have mailed some of the researchers over at Physical Resource Theory.
This is the email.

Quote:
( This letter is in english so that it can be shared with the members on the mobileread forums http://www.mobileread.com/forums/ )

Hi!

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the sustainability issues of paper books and ebooks on the mobileread forums, some discussions are sporadic, but this one

http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=27982

clearly addressed the problem in detail. Overall through the different threads there are claims that eBooks ought to be a smaller strain on the environment since they don't require paper, transport and printing whilst others claim that there is no obvious gain of using eBooks since they require an electronic device ( Laptop, eBook reader or PDA) to be read. Several points have also been made regarding life time of electronic devices and the type of resources needed for producing such devices. Some have even claimed that one must take the electronic infrastructure into account when comparing eBooks with paper books. Clearly, the interest in environmental issues is huge, but sadly our knowledge is not enough to match the interest. Hopefully you can answer our questions and bring light and facts into the discussions.

What I mean to ask is:

1) Do you have any data on the "environmental pressure" which paper books cause; that is, from the actual trees down to an end consumer ?
2) Do you have any data on the "environmental pressure" which an eBook causes? You are welcome to take different perspectives on this one; For example if some already has a Laptop, others have stationary computers, and also the case when you must buy an eBook reading device for this.
3) What is your estimate on the question; " which is the most sustainable of eBooks and paper books " ?

Best regards
Gianfranco Alongi
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:17 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
No that's a response to the argument that ebooks are not environmentally friendly because they are not sustainanble. Re-phrased the argument reads as "Yes ebooks are not sustainanble, but neither is any technology that strives to maintain the level of information accessibility that ebooks allow. In particular, that includes pbooks."
A pbook is sustainable. As said made of 100% renewable material, with good treatment can last for several hundred years, high quality prints could even last for thousands of years. It is 100% recycleable... paper is one of the few techs that actually really works well!

eBook device have many advantages though, like quickly retrievable, easy carry, access anywhere, on complicated texts possibilities to have social tagging, quick access to additional information to a text, to dictionaries, and so on. I just don't consider environment as their primary sales point, nor is it IMHO a good idea to market it as such.
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:46 PM   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axel77 View Post
A pbook is sustainable. As said made of 100% renewable material, with good treatment can last for several hundred years, high quality prints could even last for thousands of years. It is 100% recycleable... paper is one of the few techs that actually really works well!
An individual pbook is sustainable. pbooks as an information dissemination technology are not. It should be fairly obvious why they are not. If its not obvious, I'll be happy to elaborate.
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:50 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by kovidgoyal View Post
An individual pbook is sustainable. pbooks as an information dissemination technology are not. It should be fairly obvious why they are not. If its not obvious, I'll be happy to elaborate.
As newspaper you are right, newspaper eat a lot of paper. So i consider eNewspaper as a real good thing. However a book holding content for a long time paper is really not that bad as some people view it to be, because it cuts this trees....
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:53 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Gianfranco View Post
Done, I have mailed some of the researchers over at Physical Resource Theory.
This is the email.
Good idea, well I'm nosy what they come up with, if they respond...
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:55 PM   #51
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I am quite sure they will respond, until then I will stick in the "I know what believe and I do not see a point about arguing more about this" state of mind

Last edited by Gianfranco; 08-20-2008 at 04:10 PM. Reason: What I mean to say: I am firm in my belief and won't budge, for now at least.
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:57 PM   #52
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"I know what I think
I know what I think? huh?
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:06 PM   #53
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People interested in this topic might also be interested in Chuck Tremper's book, As the Oceans Rise, where he discusses this issue.

http://www.astheoceansrise.com/

I should point out that I was one of the people that he interviewed.
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Old 08-20-2008, 04:10 PM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axel77 View Post
I know what I think? huh?
Yeah, check my edit
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Old 08-21-2008, 05:50 AM   #55
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A couple of years ago the German government funded a study to analyze the environmental impact (direct and indirect) of e-books and concluded that e-books are not as environmentally safe as some may suspect. In fact, the study claimed that e-books can cause significant indirect ecological damage through the required use of energy (for instance, when you use your PC to browse e-book catalogs, to download and transfer e-books, or when you use wireless for transfer (e.g. EVDO)).

I attached the study. Most of it is in German (go figure).
Attached Files
File Type: pdf IZT_WB66_Dematerialisierung_e-paper.pdf (363.8 KB, 116 views)
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Old 08-21-2008, 08:17 AM   #56
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I work for a printer, and we've just been Forest Stewardship Council certified:

http://www.fsc.org/

so that's one datapoint in the renewable nature of books printed on paper.

For ebook readers, while the metal is pretty much infinitely recyclable, plastics degrade in any recycling technique I'm aware of and so have a fixed life cycle, but as a counterpoint, glue &c. in printed works isn't recoverable.

As regards ebooks working better to disseminate information, well, a paper book in a library achieves that quite well, so that nibbles away at that a bit.

That said, Kovid's point of the convenience aspect is a good one, and if people didn't spend the money on an ebook reader they'd probably get a PDA or MP3 player or some other toy, so it's not an absolute cost.

William
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Old 08-21-2008, 08:18 AM   #57
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I agree with kovidgoyal.

We shouldn't claim that ebooks are environmentally friendly yet, so what? We're not going back to prehistory, it's not going to stop.
We can take paper consumption as an indicator of the transition to a knowledge-based economy. Then take a look at the pdf, China and India are not there yet.. but they will be.

Devices will converge, eventually you'll have two devices per person (or maybe even just one) for all your IT and media needs. At that point, infrastructure costs will be very stable.
Primary energy generation will progressively go green, (but it will take much longer for transportation)

And don't get me started on efficiency and productivity. What? I consume energy browsing catalogs??? What about the energy (literally) and time I would spend wandering store after store looking for a book?

What about updates and corrections to current material?

If you consider the issue of access then for me pbooks will never be able to compete.

People talk about books like they are fungible and universally available at any store. I don't want any book, I want THAT book. Most of the time I cannot obtain the books I read locally, most of the time I pay more for S&H than for the books themselves. I hate it.

Ebook readers grant potentially universal access to all books (in print or otherwise). Now if any study can conclude that it's cheaper (and greener) to have every book locally available then I will go back to college and retake microeconomics 101.
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Old 08-21-2008, 08:54 AM   #58
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IWe're not going back to prehistory, it's not going to stop.
As said, extreme overexaggerations don't explain anything. But yes even if would word it very differently, the core assumption is I guess the same, even if eBooks are not more environment friendly than paper books, a lot of other stuff speaks for eBooks, therefore we consider it "better". If it wouldn't, then it would really be just a step backward...

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What about the energy (literally) and time I would spend wandering store after store looking for a book?
As long as you *wander* around, this uses perfect renewable energies, and the human body is one of the most efficient "fuel" combustion "machines", not much human build machines can get even close there (altough I expect to be a lot of animals that are yet more efficient).

Quote:
People talk about books like they are fungible and universally available at any store. I don't want any book, I want THAT book. Most of the time I cannot obtain the books I read locally, most of the time I pay more for S&H than for the books themselves. I hate it.
This is a question if this gets with e... or if it gets even worse with DRMs and that. This is and stays a very interesting social question.

Quote:
Ebook readers grant potentially universal access to all books (in print or otherwise).
Technically yes, socially not unless there is a battle to be won. Look a lot of articles should be available on PDF; I wouldn't mind to get them as PDF, but I cannot. When it comes to rare stuff its still much more easy to get a paper copy than an electronic.

Quote:
Now if any study can conclude that it's cheaper (and greener) to have every book locally available then I will go back to college and retake microeconomics 101.
Look this always a ground problem of any social science. Everyone here thinks its "common sense" that eBooks are more environment friendly than paper, because paper is such an "evil tree cutting tech"... Now if you do a study that conforms to your common sense, you will say: What? That needed you X dollar and Y months to find out? I could have told you in a minute. If you get a result that contradicts common sense, people say: "such a bullshit, I mean thats totally wrong, everybody can tell you that"... Its interesting enough if a natural scientists comes up with something that is totally against your common sense (like modern physics do) people go oh and ah, if you a social scientist, people tell you are "obviously" wrong.

Last edited by axel77; 08-21-2008 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:05 AM   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic View Post
A couple of years ago the German government funded a study to analyze the environmental impact (direct and indirect) of e-books and concluded that e-books are not as environmentally safe as some may suspect. In fact, the study claimed that e-books can cause significant indirect ecological damage through the required use of energy (for instance, when you use your PC to browse e-book catalogs, to download and transfer e-books, or when you use wireless for transfer (e.g. EVDO)).
Well, that certainly says a lot for the use of tech like e-paper, that uses less-to-no energy to maintain a page. It also hints that if energy generation systems are improved (using solar, wind, tidal, thermal, etc) instead of traditional sources (oil and coal), the equation for e-books will significantly improve.

Alex, (since I don't speak German) did the study address the environmental impact of hardware e-book readers themselves, or did it divorce readers from the e-book question?
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:35 AM   #60
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Is there some english version for this paper?
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