It’s greenest at the library
On Sunday the New York Times took a scientific look at the relative greenness of buying paper books versus ebooks [How Green Is My iPad?, by Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris]. After considering resource consumption, greenhouse gases and health concerns the authors came up with a vague range of 20-100 books as the minimum threshold for ebook green status. With tongue in cheek, the article ended by quipping that borrowing paper books from a library was best.
This comparison doesn’t consider many of the practical issues. For example, ebooks let you carry hundreds of books anywhere you want without risk of back injury, but only one person can read an ebook device at a time. Five people can share five paper books or sections of a newspaper. It will be fascinating to see how ebooks fit into our culture. They will fit in, but it’s a safe bet that there will be surprising twists in the “how” department.