A Teenager’s Case Against E-Readers

I have a really special teen in my life: “M.” — a smart, cute, witty, popular, avid reader and a deep thinker. She’s in 10th grade at an urban American public school. M. has some very strong opinions about e-readers — rather unconventional opinions for natives of the Digital Age. I’ve asked her to share her thoughts on e-readers as a guest blogger, and she graciously agreed (and even researched!). With great pride, I present M.’s guest post, unedited, written in her own words. Read, think and feel free to judiciously respond in the comment bubble above. Enjoy! Thanks, “M.”!

Em blog photo

Do eReaders Equal No Readers?

            Throughout the past three or so years, eReaders have become the new “thing.” They have become increasingly popular, and more and more people are jumping on their band wagon. With the increasing of electronic books, what does the future hold for the traditional paperback? Electronic readers like the Kindle, Nook, and Tablet affect the economy, are distractions, have functional set-backs, are negative on the environment and travel, and have many other problems as well.

The increase of electronic readers negatively impacts the American economy. The surge of online books has lead to the closing of many local bookshops and the long-running book power-house, Borders. When these books stores were forcedly closed, thousands of Americans lost their jobs. Unemployment rates shot up, which made the problem of our recession even worse. Also, our once-American employees have been replaced by outsourced workers from third and second world countries. Now most of the money gained from American books is replaced by money that has to be sent to lower world countries to pay for production. With that being said, the American economy does not even gain much of a profit from the best-selling eReaders.

One thing E-readers are fantastic at is being distracting. Most people I know do not even use them to read, instead the three hundred or so dollars spent on electric readers goes towards children playing apps. The touch screen and internet features of E-readers provide an outlet for owners to not read, but to spend more time on Facebook or Candy Crush. Most electronic readers are being compared to Ipads, whose primary function is entertainment, when they should be compared to other eReaders. The comparison of I-products and electronic readers increases the public’s view of eReaders being used for entertainment, not books. Finally, many people bring their Kindle Fires to school and pretend to read in class, when they are actually on in the internet or playing games. This new distraction is causing our next generation of leaders to not succeed as much in school, because more time is spent playing games than learning.

There are also functional set-backs with items like the Nook and Kindle. Before, people could just read a ten dollar book outside, but now, people have to spend hundreds of dollars to read an electric book equipped with a light in order to read outside. People are throwing away their hard earned money when they could just spent a few bucks on a book that can be read anywhere without the dilemma of lighting issues. The increased internet usage brought along with the electronic reader ultimately discourages reading, because people would rather be on social networking sites than read when given the option. Finally, eReaders do not give page numbers. Instead, they use percents. For many people, including myself, a percent is not enough; the people need to actually see how far they have gone, or how few pages they have left. If I have read fifteen percent of my book, I want to actually know how many pages I have read. I want to know that fifteen percent of my book means I have read thirty of my two hundred pages.

The environment is also effected by electronic books. Many people believe electronic readers actually benefit the environment, because trees are not cut down, but eReaders have a worse impact. When electronic books die, people are forced to throw them out, because they are non-recyclable. The products that make up eReaders are extremely harmful on the environment. According to Mike Matthews of Demand Media, eReaders are composed of “plastics derived from petrochemicals and metals that are produced from mining,” (Matthews). The plastics used have a very heavy carbon footprint on the environment. Demand Media also states that a “study by the Cleantech Group reported that 168 kilograms of carbon dioxide are emitted in manufacturing a single Kindle, which is more than 20 times the 7.5 to 8 kilograms used to produce the average book,” (Matthews).

A study by the Environmental Protection Agency states, “[about] 74 percent of all electronic equipment ends in landfills,” (Matthews). Finally, the constant need to be recharged and plugged in overtime uses up massive amounts of electricity.

Electronic Readers are very light weight, and thus good for travel. Unfortunately, there are many other aspects to travel besides weight of baggage. Security lines in airports are extremely painful to stand in and wait for, especially when you have to go through a large airport and are crunched in time to make your flight. The security requires you to remove all electronics, including eReaders. If for whatever reason you do not, then the machine goes off, and the guards have to rummage through your personal belongings looking for what caused their alarm to ring. This takes up not only your valuable time, but others’ as well.

Many other miscellaneous facts prove eReaders are worse than books. eReaders have taken away the sheer joy of being gifted a leather bound classic book, such as War of the Worlds. Now children get excited from getting an electronic item that will in about three years, die, when the leather bound book could last for decades. Kindles, Nooks, and Tablet have many bugs and problems, whereas when books are bought, they are always in perfect condition, and rarely, if ever, have any issues. Finally books on the Kindle are the same price as the trade paperback version, so instead of spending hundreds of dollars for a ten dollar book, you could simply just purchase the book itself.

After taking into account the affects on the economy, distractions, functional set-backs, negative effects on the environment and travel, and many other miscellaneous problems, eReaders are a destructive force. If eReaders continue to popularize, the traditional book will become vintage, which will lead to many other problems as well. ♦

Matthews, Mike. Effects of the eReader on the Environment. Demand Media. Electronic. 1 Jan 2014.

When not writing thought-provoking persuasive essays and reading, M. has fun with her many cool friends, plays a variety of musical instruments (including banjo, sax and piano), competes in lacrosse, performs community service activities, and spoils her pets, which include dogs, cats, birds, turtles, and probably some others I’m forgetting.

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