On e-books | By Umbra Fisk | Grist | Ask Umbra | 10 Dec 2008

Dear Umbra,
I have noticed that digital book readers have started to enter the market and wonder if they are more ecologically sound than conventional books. I am interested in buying one but suspect that they are full of metals that damage the environment in their production. Also, they would use up energy when in use, but I have heard that this is minimal. On the other hand, paper books take a lot of production and transport to reach the reader. Which would be the more eco option?Jonathan A.Glasgow, Scotland

answer Dearest Jonathan,It hurts to say it, but e-books are looking like a good option, even perhaps the better option. Ouch. Usually for these which-is-better questions we have to gather a few tidbits of Life Cycle Analysis, paste them together with our assumptions, and call it good. But Life Cycle Analysts are excited about e-books and e-newspapers, for some reason, and there is a shocking amount of data analysis out there. Enough to make my head feel all fuzzy inside. There are caveats as usual, but I am forced to report the general conclusion that e-books produce less CO2 emissions and use less water than conventional newspapers and books.

On e-books | By Umbra Fisk | Grist | Ask Umbra | 10 Dec 2008

So, our books are moving to electronics at last. There is technology that lets you hold the book in your hand but still has it on an electronic page. It’s not just the Amazon kindle. I want to try it; I can use the bookshelf space for so many other things!

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