Amazon’s ‘Kindle’ is next step towards paperless culture

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Earlier this week online giant Amazon.com released a digital reader called the Kindle, a device that has great potential to revolutionize the way we read. While ebook readers aren’t new, Amazon’s offering brings several new features to the table. Chief among the green features of this device are the power requirements; the Kindle uses electronic ink for it’s display, a technology that only requires energy to change the display, not to maintain it.The Kindle’s e-ink display technology appears similar to normal printed ink, and differs from previous digital readers which used a backlight to illuminate the screen and had much higher power consumption. With the Kindle, reading power usage is measured in page turns instead of operating time, so you can literally read for days or weeks on a single charge with wireless turned off.

The other major feature of the Kindle is the way the digital media is distributed. Typically with digital readers, a computer is required to download and sync the data you would like to read. The Kindle, on the other hand, uses built in EVDO wireless technology; the same technology used for high speed connections over the cellular networks. Better still, instead of requiring a data plan subscription, unlimited network access is included in the initial purchase price. This allows customers to subscribe to blog feeds, online newspapers and magazines, and browse websites like Wikipedia anywhere there is a cellular signal all without any additional charge. Users can wake up each day to find the latest news headlines and blog posts already waiting for them on their device, and these will continue to be retrieved by the reader throughout the day automatically.

Books can be purchased from Amazon through the Kindle’s web store interface, with current best sellers priced at $9.99 and lower. These downloads are archived on the Amazon site, so you can download them again if your Kindle is ever damaged or lost. Your own documents can be transferred to your Kindle via email, a step necessary because the documents require converting to the Kindle’s own format.
I’ve been an active reader for as long as I can remember, and for many of my books I do still prefer real paper. I also enjoy the look of a bookshelf full of the books I’ve collected over the years, so I don’t see something like the Kindle replacing that any time soon in my own life. However, for content that is intended to be read once, such as newspaper articles, this is of immediate benefit. There are tremendous savings possible in paper, printing supplies, materials transportation and many other areas if short-term publications are converted to automatically retrieved digital content. By removing the computer aspect and and adding automated subscriptions the process, the whole system is easier for the end user who may be too rushed in the morning to download rss feeds for reading during the day.

The Kindle comes in a small, easily portable format. About the size of a regular paperback novel, it’s 5″ x 7.5″ x 0.7″, and weighs in at just over 10oz. It comes with 256mb of internal memory, enough to store about 200 books, and has an SD slot to add additional storage capacity.
The only downside to the Kindle I’ve found, is that it’s currently not available outside of the USA. I hope this will change in the future, as well as an eventual reduction in price as this is a technology that truly has green potential.

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About

Steve holds a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology from Humber College in Toronto, is a LEED Accredited Professional and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor. He currently lives in Victoria BC and works as a green building consultant specializing in residential projects.

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