Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kindle-ing a Love of E-Reading

OK, there's no doubt, the greenest way to read is to go to the library and borrow books.

I'm not gonna lie. I don't do that.

Why? Mostly because I like to write in my books and go back to my favorite passages over and over again. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about how people learn to read and think about what they read, hunkering down with a book I can't write in just seems silly. Most of my books are read, re-read, loaned and loaned again. They get a lot of use.

(Plus I think library books smell weird. Yep. I'm shallow like that.)

On my recent vacation I didn't want to take a whole backpack full of heavy books, and I decided to put some of my birthday money to use by getting a Kindle.

As soon as it arrived, I was instantly smitten. It's light, attractive, and the display is amazing.


Any blurriness is due to the fact that I took this picture with my phone. Still, pretty amazing, no?

A few advantages:
  • You can carry around lots of books at once, duh.
  • They have "Kindle Active" books (like crossword and puzzle books), so you're not wasting more paper with those. I do a lot of crosswords, so I'm saving paper this way.
  • Magazines are available. Of course, the Kindle isn't in color, so some magazines wouldn't be as satisfying in this format. However, for text-heavy magazines like the New Yorker or Atlantic, this seems like a good option.
  • The e-ink only uses power when you turn the page, so the battery can last for a LONG time (over 2 weeks). Hooray for using less power. Techie devices usually draw a lot of power (the iPad battery reportedly lasts up to 10 hours).
  • The screen has a nice matte finish, and you can read it outside with no glare.
  • Since books are downloaded directly to the wifi-enabled device, you're not driving anywhere to pick up books, nor are fossil fuels being used delivering them to your house.
But is an e-reader really greener? It may seem like it at first thought -- I mean, you're not using any trees, so it must be, right? But of course, the manufacture of an e-reader involves a lot more toxic materials than a book. I've read different estimates of how many books you have to read over the life of your Kindle to make an even ecological trade-off with printed books. These estimates vary from 22 to 100. (Here's an article about the greenness of e-readers vs. books if you want to know more).

So the key is, don't buy an e-reader if you're not already someone who likes to read. But if you are, I've found it to be a great option.

(And what am I reading right now, you might wonder? I'm glad you asked. I'm reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell and I LOVE IT. The Kindle doesn't have pages, of course, but there's a little bar at the bottom of the screen that tells you how much you've read so that you can get that satisfying feeling of making headway through a book. In two days I've read 34% of this book. Apparently it's 512 pages long in the printed version, but it flies by. Don't be intimidated by the length and David Mitchell's reputation as a literary trickster.)

Have other questions about the Kindle? Let me know.


Unknown said...

I hadn't thought about the materials they use to make the Kindle. I imagine their production process would be part of the equation too if you got down to it. They do seem like a cool option for travel, for sure! :)

fourthbreakfast said...

I love my Kindle. It's helping me be green because i can save energy trying to wedge books into my overpacked bookshelvers and use it to compost. How's that for bizarre justification?