Are e-books an Earth-friendly alternative to print?

Better World BooksI have never considered e-books to be Earth-friendly — mostly because I’ve just never thought about it.

In the print versus digital debate, the greatest positive I’ve heard for e-books is convenience. You can carry hundreds of books in a device no bigger than a new hardback. You can download the sequel in a series at 3 a.m.

E-book lovers have also argued cost — e-books are often (although not always) cheaper than their print alternatives. This is especially true for newer releases.

But eco-friendly? Well, perhaps. But isn’t buying used books eco-friendly too?

Better World Books, a company created by three friends in South Bend, Ind., to give used books a second life in new homes, shared this graphic last week. (You can click on it for a readable version.) By accepting books that libraries intended to discard, BWB estimates it has kept 94 million books out of landfills in the past 10 years.

I’m a big advocate of used books — it’s certainly how I get most of my reading material. I like that I can plunk down a $20 bill and walk away with at least 10 books. I like that I can support the York County libraries or independent bookstores. I like that, if a book turns out to be a dud, I didn’t spend $25 on it. (I enjoy the library for that reason, too, of course.)

And if my used-book-buying habits keep a novel out of a landfill? Well there’s another bonus.

More on e-books:
Could you receive part of the $69M payment to e-book consumers?
York County Libraries face restrictions on e-book purchases
Kaltreider-Benfer offers e-reader lending program

About Sarah Chain

I'm an avid reader and book lover living and working in downtown York. Follow me on Twitter at @sarahEchain.
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