photo by Yutaka Tsutano (Flickr CC)

I don’t have an iPad, iPhone, Amazon Kindle or any other ‘e-reader’. I’ve read a few old books on my laptop, however, and I didn’t much like it. The feel of parchment on fingers, the sight of printed text and the overall coziness of a book is so much more pleasing than the cold brightness of an LCD monitor, when it comes to engaging in literary escapism.

Then there’s the issue of paper.

An astounding amount of trees are cut down and pulped to make books and newspapers, while an e-book itself is just information. Of course we also know that minerals used in the manufacture of computers and other electronic devices like e-readers fuel bloody wars in Africa, perpetuate slave-like conditions in China and take a lot of energy to produce.

And let us not pretend that an e-reader lasts forever. We buy computers and phones, use them for a few years, chuck them and buy more. The resultant e-waste ends up – often illegally – in developing countries where it poisons the locals.

Regarding the carbon footprint of an e-reader like the iPad, when compared to buying newspapers and books, the Guardian’s Leo Hickman has already explored this conundrum back in May, with less than definitive results.

Author, actor, comedian, presenter and British national treasure Stephen Fry’s new memoirs are in several ways more e-reader friendly, which will come as no surprise to those familiar with Fry’s famous technophilia and cutting edgedness. In a recent interview with ITN News he explores the potential of the iPad and other e-readers to save trees and energy:

Stephen Fry on why his new book has its own app