Within the modern world we have the ability to communicate through an endless array of technological advances. The mediums of communication are vast and growing as texting, skyping, emailing and social media have taken over the world. These advances have even affected the way we view literature and reading as a whole. More often than not, people would rather purchase an e-reader over a physical hardcover or paperback book. As emails and texting have taken away the interpersonal relations of communication, e-books have taken the life and intimacy out of reading paper books.
While e-readers are more convenient for a person to read on the go it is evident that this convenience negates the environmental and health effects it has on the world and those living in it. As paper books are manufactured through the consumption of trees, ebooks contribute to our ecological footprint through production and maintenance. It is evident that both traditional books and e-readers have environmental drawbacks, however, “in terms of the effect on the climate, the emissions created by a single e-reader are equal roughly to 100 books”. This figure may be alarming but when taken into consideration e-readers are truly a more volatile product as they require materials like plastic derived from oil, as well as glass and other metallic materials to create the device in addition to acidic batteries and regular electrical charge. Traditional books require “wood fiber” from a natural resource that is renewable if looked after properly. Furthermore, a study conducted in Sweden revealed that reading for 10 minutes online uses more carbon to maintain the computer’s energy than is expelled from a print newspaper. In consideration of the effects ebooks have on our environment, it is also evident that as a medium, it takes the longevity and comprehension out of reading.
Moreover, it is evident that e-books also pose a risk to your health. Have you ever tried to read an article or book online before going to bed for the night only to find that you can’t fall asleep? This sleeplessness is caused by the lighting of electronic devices like televisions, computers, phones and e-books. The blue light that is given off by our electronics was discovered to reduce the amount of melatonin produced in your body thereby reducing your ability to sleep. The chain reaction of sleep deficiency can in turn lead to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and more. Hence, the harsh lighting e- readers amongst other electronics emit can be detrimental to your health and sleeping habits.
In conclusion, it is evident that Marshall McLuhan is right in saying “We drive into the future using our rear view mirror”. Constantly, we focus our lives on the next big thing- neglecting the great advances we already have around us. Novels and books are sources of information that will never go out of style. Paper books whisk us off to imaginary places, inform us, and create an artistic outlet for people to share their stories with the world. When we turn our backs to the simplicities of life, diving head first into the future we forget the reality we live in and lack direction. The present is tangible, the future is just a virtual reality of possibilities- good and bad. Paper books creates a lasting impression. In contrast to books, computer screens and e-books only provide convenience and status, negating the overall value of books and reading as a whole. By putting paper books online and in e-readers the medium of reading is tainted. Thus, I feel that it is important for our generation to encourage the world to read paper books, as the medium of reading physical books over a screen speaks volumes.