Kindles are NOT better than books

This week has been a pretty good week, after all most of us received presents and spread good cheer. I planned to forgo this week’s rant but after reading posts from new E-Reader owners I changed my mind, sort of. This week is a kind of rebuttal to those who feel the need to come up with excuses as to why they now own an E-Reader; excuses that try to claim E-Readers are good for the environment. I am going to pick on Kindles, not because I do not like them, but because the people that claim to be environmentally friendly all have Kindles. I think of the Kindle as the Ipod of MP3 players. The Kindles like the Ipod s are the hottest e-reader gadgets to own; at least this is what we are being led to believe by the media and Amazon. Let me make it clear, I see nothing wrong with owning any E-Reader and do not feel anyone needs a reason to own one. No, this rant is for those who are feeling smug about owning one, much like their parents must have felt owning the first Volvos while drinking their Starbuck coffee. Remember those people?

Here are the top three excuses I have heard this week and why they need to be addressed.

3) I can now carry all my books with me where ever I go. One guy boasted that he now has all 1700 of his books on his Kindle (is that even possible?). Now I have found myself from time to time wishing I had a book with me. These are the times when I have to wait for something or someone unexpectedly. Normally I carry a paperback in my car but I do not always have one in my purse, luckily for me I do have a couple of classics loaded in my Ipod Touch so in a pinch I can always read a few chapters of Alice and Wonderland or The Jungle Book. But all of my books? At one time??There has only been two times in my life when I wanted all of my books with me, two times when I tried to figure out how to carry all of my books. This is when I moved from one house to another house. At no other time I have wished to have all my books with me. When I was laid up in the hospital last year with nothing to do it never occurred to me that I would feel much better or the room would be cozier if I had all my books with me. It was a good time to read books that I had been putting off. When you do not have a wide choice of books you tend to finish what you do have. I read three Shakespeare plays and finally finished Ulysses by Joyce. If I had access to all my books Joyce may have been cast aside and I would have missed out on a good read. Here is when I think it would be great to have all of your unread books with you; when you are in college and have your texts loaded in an E-Reader. I would rejoice if someone came up with an E-Reader for college students. Lugging large heavy texts are good for chiropractors but bad for students. If there was an E-Reader that allowed for text books, I would be first in line. But all of my books? Back to the young man who claimed to have 1700 books in his collection. All I can say is he either has a serious case of ADD or likes the idea of being able to show off his collection, much like my ex-brother in law liked to show off his $20,000 watch that as far as I could tell did the same thing as my $5.00 watch.

2) Books are just dead trees. Well so is a house and all of the furniture in it. As I told the young girl who said this, those who think this better start living like the Flintstones and purchase only that which is made of rock. Sorry blonde, but books are made from wood pulp, the byproduct of wood. No old growth trees are cut down to make paper. Since the 1800 paper has been made from t discarded wood material. Material that otherwise would go to waste. The wood pulp is from trees that grow in abundance and are used to make furniture. Granted, the chemicals that are part of the bleaching process is not great for the environment, but books themselves are not the reason trees are cut down,. Which leads us to the number one ridicules excuse I have heard this week.

1). Kindles are environmentally better than books. Where do I even begin! I researched all the E-Readers and cannot find any mention of the use of recycled material in them. Amazon does offer a recycle program for dead Kindles but does not say they use recycled plastic material in the making of the Kindles. This means that for every one out there, new material was manufactured. No byproducts were used. As for the recycle program, I give Amazon credit for coming up with one, but I wonder how many people will take the time to send their old Kindles off? It is hard enough to get us to recycle our household waste, and it is picked up on a weekly basis! This means that many of the old Kindles will end up in our landfills along with all the other E-Readers, MP2 players etc. At least when a book ends up in the landfill it will eventually disintegrate and become part of the earth. Kindles need to be recharged, and the only way to do this is using electricity, you know the stuff we are supposed to be conserving? I have a few books on my shelves that are over 200 years old and as far as I know they have never needed to be recharged. Oil, natural gas and carbon are the basic building blocks of plastic, again the stuff we are supposed to be conserving. Then in comes the chemical process that is needed to make sturdy long lasting plastic. Wood pulp, bleach, and ink are what our books are made of. Kindles on the other hand are made of nonrenewable sources that are becoming more and more expensive to attain. Which now sounds better for the environment? Kindles are manufactured in China and have to be flown thousands of miles so we consumers can have them. Most books are manufactured in the country of origin. In other words when you buy a book you buy (insert your country name here). The carbon foot print of any book is far smaller than the Kindle.

Now this argument can be made for many things, there are always pros and cons for everything we buy. I grapple with this everyday as I see my plastic use go up, not down as I wish. But I do not make excuses for my purchases; instead I live with my choices. I do not try to make myself feel better by making ridicules claims about the things I buy, and I swear the next time I hear another Kindle is better than a book claim I am going to drive over the Kindle loving idiot with my SUV, while drinking a latte and listening to REM on my Ipod!

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

5 thoughts on “Kindles are NOT better than books”

  1. I've noticed a lot of people received e-readers this Christmas, but I can't say I've come across any who were trying to say they were better for the environment.I wouldn't have minded if someone gave me an e-reader for Christmas (although I really don't want a Kindle, if I had my choice). I wouldn't expect the e-reader to completely replace physical books in my personal library though. It would just be an addition to. I do like the idea of being able to travel light on the book front–storing a variety of books on one little device instead of having several books taking up space in my suitcase. It just seems more convenient, especially when it comes to air travel when you can only take so much onto a plane without having to pay extra. That's just me though.As for the snuggie Dannie mentioned, I confess I was thinking the other day how I wished I had one to use around the house. LOL


  2. Great post – made me laugh out loud! The environmental responsibility argument is, as David Foster Wallace would say, so stupid it practically drools. If you're buying an E-Reader because you believe it's saving the environment, then you will believe just about anything. Taco Bell is healthy, too, just so you know… ;)Maybe E-Readers do have other benefits for or other niches, but that's not one of them! ;)Cheers,Greg


  3. Dannie, oh you are going to love this:my mother bought me a Snuggie for Christmas LOL. What was she thinking! Our office heater broke over the weekend. I threatened to wear the damn thing if it is not fixed tomorrow.Wendy,If I traveled like I used to I could see using an E-Reader. Then again I found Karen Armstrong in a airport bookstore. Greg, thanks for the feedback. I am glad you laughed; this was what I wanted to go for. I am trying to figure out how to add humor to my writing so bear with me as I practice.


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