December 2, 2008

Cafescribe - A resource for student

CafeScribe state on their web-site that:

CaféScribe is all about helping students save money and get better grades. Our digital textbooks and free MyScribe reader take you where traditional printed media can't. Think of us as textbooks 2.0.
Thus they seems a good resource for students looking for eTexts and a good follow-on to my previous post on the economics of buying your text books in electronic book format for using with the Amazon Kindle.

Now, off on a personal rant....
Stop talking about saving trees for goodness sake!
Trees used for paper making (as opposed to hardwoods in the Amazon - a different Amazon! - Rain forest) are a crop, just like rice or wheat. They get planted, they grow, get taken care of (thinning etc) and then get harvested and used. The land is allowed to rest, remains are ploughed under, it gets planted and the cycle starts again.

Permanent cutting of trees and deforestation is a different problem, and not caused by people reading books on paper for Pete's sake.

The issue about using paper books is mainly about energy usage, and hence CO2 and other pollutants production, in their production and distribution. Some energy can actually be regained from them (through burning in thermal power plants). Water usage could be a problem, but is not usually in the regions where paper manufacture takes place, where water is abundant.

I will make sure to post some future posts expanding on this subject, including some links to serious studies on the subject. These studies are complex and depend a lot on the assumptions made for the analysis. Examples would be:-
  • How many people may use a paper book through re-sale over it's entire life?
  • Where are the printed materials produced, how far to ship them to point of use, and by what transport means.
  • Do you read in daylight, lighting that would be on anyway, or have a reading light?
  • Did you buy a computer or eBook reader JUST to read a given set of contact instead of on paper?
  • How long do you leave your device on for beyond the time needed for reading, and how much energy is used in that time?
  • How much energy is wasted by your computer when it is OFF, by the power brick?
  • Can your computer/device be recycled when out of date? How much energy used to recycle that material? Does it have heavy metals that will leech out?
  • etc etc etc.
Don't listen to simplistic "save more trees by buying eBook" arguments by electronic vendor's who's ONLY business is in selling you that device. Inform yourself, and consider your overall energy use and production of pollutants.

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