Book or Kindle?

How Many Trees Will the Kindle Save?

The festive season during late 2011 could have been called the gadget season as tablet computer owners increased from 10% to 19% of the US population from mid December 2011 to early January 2012. The same figures applied to owners of eBook readers – Amazon don’t and won’t say exactly how many Kindles they sold. Some people bought both. An incredible 29% of people (up from 18%) now own at least a tablet or an eBook reader – that’s almost one in three of the entire population according to the figures from pewinternet.org.

So how many trees are being saved by Americans reading books on either their dedicated eBook reader or via software on their tablet computer?

How many trees to make a book?

There isn’t an easy mathematical equation to definitely show how many trees are needed to make a book because there are too many unknown figures in the equation. Trees vary in size both in height and width, even within the same species. Books vary in size in both size and length – number of pages, making it impossible to give a simple answer to the question, but some experts have taken averages into account to show some results.

How far does one cord go?

You may not have heard of the measurement cord, but one cord of dense hardwood, air-dried, produces 942 copies of a 100 page hardcover book. TAPPI, who provided the figures, based their results on roughly 15 trees with a 10 inch diameter to make up one cord. If you click on the link you will find out more about the tree to book making process.

Working backwards, that means each tree makes around 60 100-page books, but as the average novel appears to contain around 300 pages, each tree makes about 20 books. If you have been reading the Stieg Larsson trilogy concerning his heroine Lisbeth Salander, you will know that each tree will provide just over 3 sets of the trilogy. 65 million of you have bought the set so let us hope more now have it in the shape of an eBook file rather than downing a full forest to provide for the book’s paper.

The cost of maintaining a Kindle

The cost of books bought – mostly as paperbacks from your grocery store – is close to the cost of downloading an eBook from your favorite online store, be that for your iPad, your Kindle, your Nook or Sony reader. However, there has been a surge in books available in eBook format at anything from 99 cents to less than three dollars. Your local Wal-Mart won’t sell you a paperback at less than 4 dollars.

There has been a general encouragement to read more books because they are priced so cheaply in the electronic version. As eBook readers mostly store at least 1,000 books, it will be easier to take enough books on vacation without affecting the ever dwindling baggage allowances. Therefore, the eBook reader will save you money over the traditional paperback purchase in weight allowance alone. More importantly, your carryon baggage can be considerably lighter as each paperback weighs more than an eBook reader and most avid readers carry at least two in fear of having nothing to read.

The lowering of weight on the airplane per passenger will reduce the weight of the airplane which means they will gain more miles to the gallon of air fuel. You should not wait around to collect your cheaper ticker based on this assumption.

Your Kindle or other eBook reader still needs to be charged. That costs electricity even if you charge from your laptop computer. It may only be a trickle, but there are several million more trickles going out through the system since the festive season. However, this needs to be balanced against the costs of making a paperback which uses more energy than charging an eBook and the time spent online downloading a new book or two.

Who wins?

Even if you balance up the cost of making the eBook reader and the cost of charging the gadget, a lot less energy is being used compared to the process of making paperbacks. You will still buy paperbacks, but only if your choice of downloading provider doesn’t have the book in its store.

Demi Relf is a self-confessed bookworm but always felt guilty about the paper she was consuming. After a decade of reading only second hand books on her organic latex mattress, she can now read books without endangering a single tree.

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