Image via Barnes & Noble
While the Kindle and iPad head full speed into education as a market with serious profit potential for e-readers as a replacement for constantly re-printed text books, Barnes & Noble doesn't want to be left behind. The company has created NOOKstudy, a dedicated computer app for the Nook that lets students manage e-books and notes in the same place. With the ability to see several books plus lecture notes and slides all at once, and have the ability to highlight and create notes means Barnes & Noble might be able to wedge in on the emerging market. NOOKstudy is a free app coming in August, which is perfect timing to catch the fall crowd of students. Barnes & Noble states that students can save as much as 40% by buying e-books instead of paper books for their classes.
One un-green issue is that the app is for computers and not e-readers. That ramps up the amount of electricity students will use in navigating their studies with the app. Of course, since odds are college students have their laptop up and running even while reading a paper book, the amount of additional electricity used probably won't be much. We assume that eventually students will be able to use an improved version of the Nook e-reader to do this kind of studying.
Are e-Readers Greener Than Paper Books?
Because e-readers are still so new, and are only barely breaking in to the classroom environment, we still don't know whether or not e-readers will be greener than paper text books. But considering the sheer number of books a student has to buy each semester or quarter, many of which have to be the latest edition that changes every couple years, it would make sense that one e-reader that lasts all through college would have a smaller footprint if it uses a small enough amount of electricity.
It will be very interesting to read the life cycle analysis of various e-readers and compare footprints of 4 years of an e-reader next to 4 years of college textbooks. There are a lot of variables, from the power consumption, embodied energy and e-waste of the e-reader to the environmental destructiveness of books from cutting down trees to the water-intensive paper manufacturing and printing processes to the landfills brimming over with books that don't get recycled. We'll have to wait awhile before the details show under what circumstances each option comes out on top.
Either way, this computer app shows that everyone from publishers to electronics manufacturers are expecting classrooms to be a great new market for e-books.
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