E-Book Reader or Paper Book: Which one is Eco-Friendly?

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Materials used (energy, water etc.) to produce a one-piece of e-reader is equal to produce almost 50 paper books. And emission created by one e-reader is estimated equal to 100 paper books. Therefore, one needs to read 100 paper books that make equality in term of emission in an e-reader. In the opposite direction, at least one tree needs to be cut down to manufacture 50 paper books. As a result, the environ specialists are concerned about ecosystem of the earth. In this content, we try to make a tentative decision which one is more environment friendly- e-book or paper book?

E-book (E-Book reader or E-Book Device)

E-book is a mobile electronic device manufactured to read a digital book, periodical. Magazine etc.Though all kind of devices that are able to display the text on their screens can be called an e-book, generally, a special device with distinct quality is known as e-reader.

The Sony Librie is the first e- book reader and the Ectaco jetBook color is the first color e-book reader in the market.

Popular E-Book Reader

  • Amazon (Global): Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Voyage, Kindle Oasis.Barnes and Noble (US/UK): Nook, Nook GlowLight, Nook GlowLight Plus.Bookeen (France): Cybook, Opus, Cybook Orizon, Cybook Odessey, Cybook Odessey HD FrontLight.
  • Icarus e-reader (Netherlands) Omnia, Illumina, and Excell
  • Kobo (Global): Kobo Touch, Kobo Glo, Kobo Mini, Kobo Aura, Kobo Aura HD
  • Onyx (Europe and China): Onyx Boox M92, Onyx Boox i62ML.
  • PocketBook (Europe and Russia): PocketBook Touch, PocketBook Mini, PocketBook Touch Lux, PocketBook Color Lux, PocketBook Aqua.
  • Tolino (Germoney): Tolino Shine, Tolino Vision etc.

The advantage of e-reader (e-book reader)

The prime advantages of an e-book are described below.

  • Portability: Being small and light, an e-reader is easy to carry.
  • Better Readability on the Screen (especially is sunlight.
  • Longer battery life: E-readers last a long time. you can read a full day only by charging a few hours.
  • Better Reading: E-reader has a facility to underline and take a note. you can easily underline any important paragraph or line and able to take not.
  • Free Book Opportunity: The users of e-book usually get huge opportunity to read hundreds of thousands of books without any cost.

Disadvantage of E-book

According to the study conducted by West Chester University researchers, the comprehension level of iPad reader is less than paper book reader.

The researchers observed that students, sometimes skipped important portion of the book and get engaged with eye catching interactive pictures,

A small study conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center found that e-books are distracted for kids.
Staring at a lit screen is tiresome for the eyes and the brain. And reading at LED screens at night can disrupt sleep patterns.

Paper Book

A book is a physical book contains text, images, etc. and it is printed on paper. The pages are bound together, and surrounded by either hard of soft cover.

Advantages of Paper Book

  • Readability: Physical books are professionally printed and formatted as a result; they are easier to read for the readers.
  • Understandability: Printed books are much more understandable and comprehensible than an e-book according to the researchers.
  • Affordability: Printed books are available for each and every individual. There is no need to have special devices such as an e-reader, laptop, computer etc.

Disadvantages of Paper Book

One of the remarkable cons of paper books expressed by almost every reader is its load. It is difficult to carry more than one book at a time for a reader. Though light books can be carried more than single piece, it becomes tough to carry especially during travel.
Storing and organizing a paper book is challenging and most of the time people feel bored unless there is library at home.

E-book and Environment Issues

In today’s world, People change their traditional reading habit from paper book to e-book. They are using their electronic devices such as Smartphone, laptop, tablet, and e-reader to read their literature. According to a study, e-readers are getting popularity day by day. Today, about one out of four American adults has an e-reader or tablet.

Yet, the production and sale of paper books are also on the rise. As the demand of both – e-reader and paper book- is increasing, the need for required ingredients also rising.

But it becomes a matter of concerned to the people who are cautious about the environment. Consequently, a debate begins on the topic that e-book reader is more environments friendly or the paper book? This becomes a buzzword all over the world. Which one is better for the ecology?

The two groups of debater differ in their opinions as their point of views is distinct from each other. Every group tends to places its logic on its own perspective.

This content tries to justify their opinion on the basis of certain criteria and suggested data collected from different sources.

Factors Concerned with Environment

Cwater drops fallingTo decide anything whether it is eco-friendly or not, the experts try to analyze some factors and find out the answers to some questions. These are (a) deforestation (number of trees and other natural resources, raw materials etc.) level, (b) amount of water used to produce the product, (c) consumption of electricity and fossil fuels in processing the product, (d) number of nonrenewable natural resource (gas, minerals, coal etc) utilized to produce that product, (e) amount of toxic chemicals.

These are the burning issues to the environmental activists. On the basis analyzing, they decides to certify a product environmentally sound or not.

Here, we try to figure out the level of e-reader and paper book in term of environment perspective and to decide tentatively which one is more ecologically sound – e-reader or paper book?

Water Saving

Cwater drops fallingAccording to a study, 7 gallons water is needed to produce only one piece printed book. On the contrary, 79 gallons water is used to manufacture an e-reader. And it is known that to read multiple books is possible through a single e-reader. Basis of this calculation, we can say that e-reader is more water saver than the paper book.

Carbon Emission

carbonCleantech website reports that large amount of carbon footprint is required to produce a paper book. Carbon emission is everywhere such as in raw materials, production, printing, shipment, and disposal of expired book. In addition to, paper production needs wood and source of wood is tree. According to a report USA book and newspaper harvest 100 million trees. It creates an irreparable loss of the surface.

The Cleantech finds that Amazon’s Kindle is responsible for 168 KG of carbon dioxide emission. Note that 168 kg is equivalent to 370 lbs. On the other hand, 42 paper books emit same amount of carbon dioxide.

Tree Saving

Tree SavingAverage, one tree is cut down to produce 50 paper books, On the contrary, power is needed to charge the e-reader battery. One of the sources of power production is tree.

On calculation, it is clear that though e-reader is somehow responsible for cutting down a small number of trees but this quantity is very poor.

Nonrenewable Resource

Everyone knows that exotic metals say lithium, columbite-taltalite etc are used to produce electronic devices such as an e-reader. Lithium is used to make a rechargeable battery and 33-pound minerals are used to manufacture an e-reader.

These all metals are extracted from mines. The excessive extraction of these elements from mines is injurious to our natural environment and the surface.

At the same time, these metals are available in some war-torn countries of the world such as Democratic Republic of Congo where children are used to extracting such element by the extremist groups. So there is an ethical is involved here.

On the other hand, huge amount of nonrenewable materials are also used to manufacture a paper book. But the amount is small in comparison to an e-reader. In this point, we can say that paper book is more eco-friendly than an e-reader.

Use of Chemicals and Poisonous Metals

ChemicalsChemicals are necessary for producing both e-reader and paper books. Mercury, cadmium, and lead are used to form the hardware of electronics devices. These all are very much harmful and toxic chemicals.

To recycle the paper and manufacture inks, these chemicals are used. But in comparison, the amount of chemicals used in producing paper is less than that of the amount used in e-reader. In this point, paper book is more environments friendly.

Use of Fossils Fuel in Transportation

Fossils Fuel in TransportationHuge amount of fuel is burnt to ship the book from manufacturing company to storehouse, from storehouse to market, from bookstore to home. This circle of transportation needs a large quantity of energy. This energy creates smoke and makes the environment polluted. Moreover, these smoke causes respiratory diseases such as bronchitis.

On the opposite side, Almost twice amount of fuel is used in an e-reader production and shipment.

At this point, we can defiantly say that paper book is more eco-friendly than an e-reader.


IngredientsThe elements of an e-reader used in manufacturing are minerals, water, and other raw materials. The minerals are extracted from mines. Most the mines are in underdeveloped and war-torn countries, where children are used to extract these metals from mines. It is pathetic.

On the other hand, 2/3 pounds minerals and about two gallons of water are used to manufacture a book from recycled paper.

Consumption of Electricity

Consumption of ElectricityReading a paper book at night, you must use the electric bulb which is more power and electricity evaporator.

Since we usually study more in night, we need bulb while reading a paper book. But this large amount of electricity can be minimized through the use of e-reader. Because, the e-reader does not need extra energy. A battery is enough to read multiple books.

Battery consumes a little bit power. This is quite small amount than the power consumption by the bulb. At this point, a paper book is favorable to environment conservatives.

Disposal of Expired Product

Individually, expired paper books are handed over to the recycled firm but It becomes difficult for a storehouse and bookstore. Papers are spread out here and there without organized way. Consequently, ink used in the books is flown out and mixed with groundwater through the rainwater. This causes an incredible bad effect to the environment and to the human body.

On the contrary, expired e-readers are either given to the children of third world countries or thrown to landfill. Both make a bad impact on the ecosystem. Transportation of expired e-reader is more fuel consumer and disposal of them causes landfill.

In this perspective, it is clear that paper books are preferable to environment specialist.

Greenhouse Gas Emission

GreenhouseAccording to Apple Company’s report, iPod is responsible for 130 kilograms (KG) greenhouse gas emission. 130 KG is the equivalence to 287 pounds.

On the other side, The Environmental Trade Reports finds that one printed (Paper) book is responsible for 8.85 pounds greenhouse gas emission. This means an iPad owner would need to offset 32.4 printed books during the iPad’s lifetime to break even in terms of the carbon footprint of reading those books

E-Waste and Recycling

robot with trashPaper books are being recycled all over the world though no exact data is available. But there is no data about an e-reader recycling. The expired e-readers are scared out around the surface and cover a large portion of the open space.

Summary of the Article

From the aforesaid discussion, it is clear that each of the two products (e-reader and paper book) has a large number of factors which are responsible for environmental degradation. Both of them are responsible to contaminate the water, land surface and other natural resources. But unfortunately, there is no worldwide acceptable study to find out the actual measure of environmental degradation caused by both e-reader and paper book .Though a small number of data are available in different sources, they are not sufficient to make final decision. But we can tentatively say that it would be better to avoid e-reader as it cannot be recycled yet. We can prefer recycled paper. The world should put more emphasis on recycling than manufacturing new paper books.

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2018-08-31T07:54:28+00:00By |Categories: E-Waste, Paper & Cardboard, Reduce|0 Comments

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