Paper books, once a very generic term now gauges a variety of reactions. For some people it might be a redundant word reminiscing the luxury of reading news in the old days, while for others it might be an essential part of their day. Even in this day and age books have always been and are still a familiar item. They have at one point or another played a pivotal part in every one of our lives. Whether it is a work of fiction, history of lost civilizations, an article detailing the socio-economic and political condition of a country or a biography of a famous personality, we crave it. Especially with the advancements in technology and changing times, books may have shifted in their mediums but have still not lost their appeal.
The 21st century brought with it a variety of changes, one of those changes was a start in moving towards a paperless society. A major change took place with e-books and applications that supported online books, these applications converted heaving files to easily downloadable e-books that could even be read on the go. This also had an impact on the book publishing industry and many major publishers started publishing online books either free or with an appropriate price. This meant they were now catering to a broader global audience and had more views than before. This also meant that since the book was available online for free less people were inclined to pay for it. For entrepreneurs it implies an opportunity cost against expanding to a wider reached target audience and more massive scale marketing.
Where the debate on publications regarding paper vs. e-books is still going on, let us take a look on how it impacts the environment. A paperless society means that the usual consumption of paper decreases when offices and individuals move on to soft copies and online materials. On the whole this will have a major impact in preserving the environment as it would mean less degradation of trees and even less material to recycle or dispose off. There is no denying that there are some essential paper commodities but the society should cut down where it can.
With the modernization and easy access of phones and computers everyone has access to online publications and even the trends are diverting from traditional publications. These days we have blogs and social media, and some would even proclaim that we are moving to simpler times where information is readily available. Moving towards a paperless society is not that farfetched an idea anymore, even in our part of the world. Already many people nowadays prefer e-books over paper ones. However, there are many who claim that reading an e-book is not as much fun as it is reading a traditional one but if you look at it from the environmental perspective, letting go of the luxury of paper for the environment is much more attractive than lounging around with a book. After all you can always download and delete as many e-books as you want but it will take years for another tree to grown back as fast as you can chop it off.
Nadia F. Ahmed is currently working in Human Resources Department, WWF-Pakistan.