Go Green with eBooks

It's Earth Day. Read an eBook and love your planet.

This Earth Day consider checking out something from OPL’s quickly expanding digital collection; choose from thousands of eBooks. Whether you already dabble in eBook reading or are certain you could never give up the feel, smell and comfort of a good book, or even if you suspect eReaders and tablets are heralding the decline of civilization, you may be surprised at how easy it is to sink into a good eBook. I was. I was so sure I would never want to read from a backlit screen that I read books in the dark next to my sleeping baby with the flashlight from my phone pointed at the page. When my husband got me an iPad for my birthday I never planned to use it for personal reading, but I had to try out our eBook platforms as part of my job. (Didn’t I?) In no time I began reading mostly on the iPad. I read it in the dark, I read it in the light, in waiting rooms, on trips (you can load a ton of books onto one tablet). I would read it on the train, and I would read it in the rain (carefully). I would read it with a fox, and I would read it in in a box. I do so love my green earth-friendly tablet.

I am not alone. OPL patrons are checking out eBooks like crazy. Look at the upward trajectory of eBook checkouts at OPL over the past 2 years on the Overdrive eBook platform:

In spite of the addition of a second eBook platform, 3M Cloud Library, last January (over 400 amazing new titles and counting), Overdrive checkouts continue on their steady incline. We've gotten the message and have been enthusiastically purchasing all kinds of eBooks for adults, teens, and children. The majority of what we purchase are the latest popular titles on bestseller lists and topping our own print holds queues. We maintain a maximum ratio of 1 digital copy per 6 holds. But, also, a substantial portion of our eBook collection comes to us through Patron Driven Acquisition, which is an elaborate way of saying, "You choose the eBooks at your library". It works like this: If you see that Overdrive or 3M Cloud Library have titles that you want that are not currently owned by the library, you recommend them to us through the click of a button. Then we purchase them and you get notified. That's it. And you'll find much more than the bestsellers from which to choose.

Why do we now offer two options for borrowing eBooks? 3M Cloud Library has an easier setup process and eBook titles not available from Overdrive. Overdrive offers digital audiobooks and Kindle books, which are not available from 3M Cloud Library, and other eBook titles not available from 3M Cloud Library.

 A bit more about each eBook platform:

                 

   Not just for Scotch tape anymore!

http://ebook.3m.com/library/OaklandPublicLibrary 

  • Our very latest ebook titles for adults, teens, and kids.
  • Download ebooks for tablets, various eReaders, and Kindle Fires.
  • Get started with an easy setup process. Simply download the app and log in with your library card number and PIN.
  • Insider's tip: 3M hasn't caught on at OPL, yet, so there is little to no wait on most frontlist titles.

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http://oakland.lib.overdrive.com/9250FB38-4664-481D-A526-4A085C353F69/10...

  • OPL’s largest e-collection, with thousands of titles, for adults, teens, and kids.
  • Get books for most devices, including the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and your Windows or Mac computer.
  • Popular fiction and non-fiction titles in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian.
  • You’ll need to create an account using your library card number and PIN, and install free software (Adobe Digital Editions).

 

To learn as much as you could ever want to know (more even!) about these eBook platforms and other digital media available through OPL, go to: http://oaklandlibrary.org/online-resources/e-books-and-downloadable-audiobooks 

If you are browsing, you should go directly to the 3M Cloud Library for titles published since January (generally), and to Overdrive for those published in 2013 and earlier (usually). However, if you know what you are looking for and want to take the guesswork out of where to look, you can search directly through our catalog and find records for all our eBooks, updated every week or two. Here's an example:

http://encore.oaklandlibrary.org/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1944861__Sstill%...

Even niftier is that 3M eBooks are integrated with our catalog, which allows for quick e-book checkouts, holds and account management from the 'My Account' feature of the catalog. You never have to leave our site. As with most of our print collection, the checkout period is for 21 days.

Am I suggesting that eBooks should replace print books? No way! I'm a librarian. I love real live paper books. Plus, many publishers are still not working with digital library models, yet, and you'll need to stick with their print copies until they get there. But it may be rewarding, and environmentally friendly, to make a little room on your bookshelf for an eReader or tablet loaded with a few good books.

Comments

When one considers the

When one considers the life-cycle costs of manufacturing and disposing of electronic devices the e-book products might not be as green as paper books. One might also consider the carbon footprint of the electricity used in the overall process.

Fair point, Mari, and one

Fair point, Mari, and one that I thought someone would probably make. I also had some nagging self-doubt in making the connection because of the conflict minerals used to make these devices. To be honest, I just noticed it was almost Earth Day when I was writing this and thought I'd mention it.

I *did* do a little research and, while there isn't total agreement, it seems the consensus is that overall tablets and readers still have a lower carbon imprint than new books once about 20 or more books are downloaded:

"E-book readers appear to have an edge over both print and reading on a computer, despite the energy required to manufacture them, mostly because the readers require very little power to operate."
http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/are-e-books-environmental-choice

However, the toxicity and waste of disposing these devices as they become obsolete is a major concern, especially if they are not recycled properly:

http://livinggreenmag.com/2012/02/29/green-business/e-readers-and-tablet...

http://www.kobo.com/erecycling

I think we have a way to go, but with public education and product development, eReaders and tablets would still be an improvement over the endless manufacturing of hard copies, many still produced from old-
growth forests.

What do you think?

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