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Tablets are Significantly Reducing Media Industry’s Paper Use

The rapid adoption of media tablets like Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle are causing a steep decline in the use of paper for books, magazines and newspapers.

According to a new study by RISI, an information provider for the global forest products industry, media tablets are on pace to become a ubiquitous, mass-market, consumer product faster than any-other previously released, technological device.

By the end of the first year of availability, over 15 million tablet computers were in use. In North America alone, the size of the electronic reader market almost doubled, with over 10 million in use, and in May of this year, announced that ebook sales now exceed those of printed book sales in the U.S.

The study finds that by 2015, most publishing paper end uses in North America, such as magazine, newspaper and book publishing, will fall 12%-21% compared to their 2010 levels. This is on top of the massive collapse that occurred during the recent recession.

A Morgan Stanley inquiry discovered that 42% of US tablet owners will cancel their print newspaper subscription. This is expected to contribute to another 40%-50% decline over the next 15 years in the amount of print paper used in North America.

Market declines are also anticipated in Europe, especially for printed newspapers, but the percentage losses in the Western European market will be somewhat less than North America because of a reduced rate of media tablet adoption and fragmented media markets.

Bart King is a PR consultant and founder of Cleantech Communications.


Which has a longer lifespan?

I can't help but wonder if our reduction of paper products, which are biodegradable, is better or worse than relying on electronic devices such as tablets, which are not biodegradable. Parts may be recycled, but most tablets will end up in a landfill after they reach the end of their lifespan. If we strike a balance between sustainable paper production and more recyclable content in electronic devices, maybe this is a better compromise.

Bart King is the principal and founder of New Growth Communications, a network of affiliated content producers and strategists serving clients in the emerging green economy. Follow him @bart_king and on LinkedIn.

[Read more about Bart King]

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