One of the big marketing tools that companies employ when marketing e-readers, is how environmentally friendly they are. The primary argument is that you would buy one piece of equipment to read thousands of books on, without the waste. So the real question is, are e-readers more environmentally friendly than paper books?
Paper and e-readers both have different kinds of pollution and waste that are quite different. With readers, the main pollutant is the manufacture of the battery and the screen. Manufacturing rechargeable batteries and computer components has a very large impact.
The production and use of paper has a number of adverse effects on the environment which are known collectively as paper pollution. Pulp mills contribute to air, water and land pollution. Discarded paper is a major component of many landfill sites, accounting for about 35% of municipal solid waste.Even paper recycling can be a source of pollution due to the sludge produced during de-inking. The manufacture and distribution of paper production, in books, both are decidedly ungreen.
e-Readers require complex batteries and screens as the bulk of their carbon footprint. In order to develop them companies need to engage in the mining of nonrenewable minerals, like columbite-tantalite, which sometimes come from politically unstable regions such as the Congo. And experts can’t seem to agree on whether we’re at risk of exhausting the world’s supply of lithium, the lifeblood of the e-reader’s battery.
Emma Ritch recently conducted a story on the carbon footprint of a Kindle e-Reader vs paperback books. “There is roughly 168 kg of CO2 produced throughout the Kindle’s lifecycle and 1,074 kg of CO2 if you purchase three books a month for four years; and up to 26,098 kg of CO2 when used to the fullest capacity of the Kindle DX. Less-frequent readers attracted by decreasing prices still can break even at 22.5 books over the life of the device,” she wrote in conclusion.
The Cleantech Group argues that the electronic reader industry can make a significant impact once people start transitioning from paper media en masse: “A user that purchasers fewer than 22.5 books per year would take longer to neutralize the emissions resulting from the e-reader, and even longer to help reduce emissions attributed to the publishing industry,” according to the study.
Nick Moran of The Millions had interesting prospective, mentioning “The emissions and e-waste for e-Readers could be stretched even further if I went down the resource rabbit hole to factor in: electricity needed at the Amazon and Apple data centers; communication infrastructure needed to transmit digital files across vast distances; the incessant need to recharge or replace the batteries of eReaders; the resources needed to recycle a digital device (compared to how easy it is to pulp or recycle a book); the packaging and physical mailing of digital devices; the need to replace a device when it breaks (instead of replacing a book when it's lost); the fact that every reader of eBooks requires his or her own eReading device (whereas print books can be loaned out as needed from a library); the fact that most digital devices are manufactured abroad and therefore transported across oceans.
The Book vs e-Reader argument really centers around the co2 emissions and production involved in the entire process. One facet most people don’t consider is water. The newspaper and book publishing industries together consume 153 billion gallons of water annually, according to the nonprofit Green Press Initiative. It takes about seven gallons to produce the average printed book, while e-publishing companies can create a digital book with less than two cups of water.
So in conclusion if an e-reader owner reads fewer than 50 books on her e-reader, then reading traditional paper-based books would have had a lighter impact on the environment. Once you break the 50 book threshold, you are getting your Captain Planet Badge. So before you upgrade to the latest new e-reader released every year, consider how many books you are reading.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Residents of the United Kingdom will see an increase in tax for apps, eBooks and audiobooks in 2015. Amazon, Apple, B&N and Kobo will be forced to charge 20% VAT, which will drastically increase the overall cost.
Major eBook retailers currently charges less tax for customers in the UK because they are based in Luxembourg, where the VAT is on average 3%. The UK government is currently making changes to the tax code for online purchases, based on the originating country where the content is being bought from. This will close a fairly lucrative tax loophole that have saved Amazon, Apple, B&N and Google millions of dollars.
The era of 99p music and app downloads will be coming to an end in 2015. Voracious readers will be spending more money, on average, for their audiobooks, eBooks, newspapers and magazines.
Dubai is changing fast and the winds of change have invaded the city’s educational infrastructure as well. ebooks and tablets are set to make a mark on Dubai’s educational landscape, which should go well with its intended makeover as a “smart” city.
Not everyone is pleased with the development, however, given the extra money that parents have to pay to procure tablets for their students. While the Education Ministry is financing the tablet devices and accessories to ensure a smooth digital transition, private schools are left to fend for themselves. (The tablet in question is an Intel device that is priced anywhere between Dh1,800 and Dh2,000.) While parents are complaining that they can get a better device like the iPad for the same amount, school authorities insist on the Intel device since those have been optimized to function in sync with the software and hardware that the schools have put in place.
“These tablets are specially customised to the school's teaching and learning strategies and methodologies. With the special software and probes on the tablet, every classroom can turn into a language lab and/or science lab and digital content of the books will also be loaded on them, leading to lighter schoolbags,” said Dr. Ashok Kumar, CEO of the India International School located in Silicon Oasis in Dubai.
The tablets offered by the schools come loaded with special software that will enable the students to plug in seamlessly with the programs and applications that the schools are using. Parents have voiced concerns with the safety of the devices.
The students remain unfazed by all the controversy surrounding the tablet adoption as part of their curriculum. Rather, they are excited at the prospect of getting a brand new tablet.
Market research firm ABI Research predicts that tablet shipment is expected to reach 200 million units by end of 2014, which will mark a 20 percent increase in sales for the year. The report also stated it's the developing markets that will be adding to the numbers this year, given the saturation that the more matured markets have already reached. As such, the bulk of new tablet sales in 2014 are predicted to come from the regions of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Buyers in North America have already invested heavily in tablets and are unlikely to buy new ones anytime soon. The ABI Research report has stated that tablet shipments in North America will drop below 50 percent for the first time since the segment launchede. Rather, it is the first time buyers from developing markets who are expected to lead the surge in tablet buying in 2014.
As for specific tablet brands, the research finding has stated the iPad is expected to hold on to its position of strength, with Samsung coming in a distant second. Others who are expected to emerge as serious players in the tablet segment include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Lenovo. Sony has stated they will focus more on tablets and other mobile devices this year after having washed their hands of the VAIO branded laptops. Tablets customized for use in a particular region are expected to catch up fast, which works in Android’s favor as it has already emerged as the biggest mobile device platform in 2013.
“One of the greatest opportunities this year is for development, manufacturing and marketing of tablets on a regional and even local level, which shakes up the vendor ecosystem of the past four years,” said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr while speaking to TabTimes. It is this that Orr claims is the biggest factor that is going to work in favor of Android given the wide customizability that the platform offers.
"You can easily offer the Google related services on an Android device and make it specific to a country or region. Or you look at places like China where Google services are frowned upon or perhaps not allowed at all, they can still use Android to create a new app ecosystem," said Orr.
Another trend is the continued dominance of the mini tablets, led by the extremely capable iPad Mini. The retina display version has already proven to be a big hit and consumer preference is expected to remain swayed towards the 8 inch devices. This could be contrary to the efforts of some companies to launch bigger 12.2-inch sized devices, such as the Galaxy Tab 12.2 from Samsung.
Microsoft and Google may not approve Windows and Android dual booting devices at the moment, but that isn’t stopping Ramos from launching such a tablet, as the Ramos i10 Pro is designed to dual boot Windows 8.1 and Android Jelly Bean 4.2. The tablet will be powered by the Intel Z3740D Bay Trail chip, matched up with a 2 GB RAM along with 32 GB internal memory. The 10.1 inch display will be lit up by 1920 x 1080 pixels. The tablet will also be 3G compatible and is slated to go on sale in China on March 25th for $450 or less. There’s no word yet of the international availability of the device.
Meanwhile, that’s not the only tablet that the Chinese manufacturer has lined up for release, as the Ramos i10 Note is in the pipeline as well. Running Windows 8.1, the i10 Note gets its name from its compatibility with a pen, allowing users to make pen input right on the display. The i10 Note offers the same specs as the i10 Pro, but with a slightly lower resolution of 1280 X 800 pixels.
There’s an 8 inch Windows tablet in the works, one that’s tentatively named i8 Pro. The tablet running Windows 8.1 offers GPS and is built around an Intel Z3740D chip (the same as seen on the Dell Venue 8 Pro and others). Other specs include a 2 GB RAM and 32 GB of storage along with front and rear cameras. The tablet is designed to offer basic computing and can be a direct competitor to the new crop of 8 inch Windows tablets that have come out lately. The i8 Pro doesn’t have a clear launch date, though it's likely to be after the i10 Pro. Also, given Ramos' strength in coming up with budget priced devices, it will be interesting to see how much the i8 Pro is priced when launched.
Another tablet being talked about is the i10s, which is believed to be an Android-only device with specifications identical to that of the dual booting i10 Pro. Meanwhile, a bigger i12 version is also rumored, but there’s not much known about it yet.
Tablets have always been pegged as one of the best devices for personal entertainment, but it's surprising how many of these offer just ordinary levels of sound quality. The explanation usually stems from lack of adequate space to fit a speaker big enough to offer decent levels of sound. Now, surround sound pioneer Dolby has taken it upon themselves to set things right. The company states that listeners can experience the same immersive sound experience as in a Dolby Atmos theater, right on their tablets.
The technology was launched at Mobile World Congress last month, attributed to special algorithms that can be made to run either on a dedicated audio processor chip or an ARM processor. The idea is to trick the brain into believing its listening to 3D audio via their earphones when in reality they’re not. Atmos theaters practically allow the sound engineers to place the sound where they wish to, thus enabling the creation of an atmosphere where viewers can sample even the smallestt of sound details. Users will have the feeling of the sound coming at them from all sides from their headphones.
“Atmos revolutionizes the way sound is created, communicated, and how it is disseminated,” Joel Susal, Dolby Laboratories Product Manager for Mobile, said. “The artist is free to put the audio where it belongs.”
Dolby’s new Atmos sound technology will be compatible with most mobile devices based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 805 chip. While it's not yet clear when Atmos sound technology will be available, it’s expected to be before the end of this year.