Read A Book; Save A Forest - InformationWeek
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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
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4/4/2008
03:14 PM
Cora Nucci
Cora Nucci
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Read A Book; Save A Forest

Do you continue to regularly blow money on books, even though you haven't read one cover-to-cover since The World According To Garp? What if there were a way to indulge your love of reading and simultaneously save some trees?

Do you continue to regularly blow money on books, even though you haven't read one cover-to-cover since The World According To Garp? What if there were a way to indulge your love of reading and simultaneously save some trees?It's no secret that most people don't read the books they buy. Who has time to sit down with a book?

In the 1980s, Michael Kinsley, then editor of The New Republic, set out to prove it. He put $5 coupons deep into the pages of dozens of copies of much-talked-about books in a Washington, D.C., bookstore. Nobody redeemed the coupons.

In Britain last year, a survey found that 33% of adults admitted lying about reading a book so that they would appear more intelligent.

And what about unsold books? When book retailers don't sell all of the books sent to them by publishers, they rip the covers off and toss the books. (It isn't clear what percentage, if any, get recycled). Factor in the energy it takes to print and transport all those tomes, and you can see how the waste starts to pile up like so many felled logs.

Say goodbye to ink and wood pulp, and hello to DailyLit. The Web site delivers books via e-mail or RSS, in daily, easy-to-digest installments. This way you can take another stab at Moby Dick on your BlackBerry, or Don Quixote on your laptop without harming a single sapling. These public-domain titles and about 750 others are free at DailyLit; most copyrighted books require payment. DailyLit titles include bestselling and award-winning titles, from literary fiction and romance to language learning and science fiction. There's no John Irving yet, but they do have Washington Irving.

I'm giving DailyLit a spin by re-reading David Copperfield (231 installments). The 900-or-so-word e-mails take under five minutes to read, and are more absorbing by far, than any other e-mail that stuffs my in-box each day. Some books -- perhaps many -- can be appreciated electronically. Others can never be replaced by digital means. Ever. Like the one below.

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