Monday, August 16, 2010

Dear Jeff Bezos, please make Kindle the greenest e-reader

I started considering buying a Kindle. I'm sure many people consider it given the latest price drop. But first I must know more about the Kindle's environmental and social impacts.

So I wrote an email to Jeff Bezos and see if he can help me here. I want to share it with you because I hope many more readers who share the same concerns will write Bezos about it, so he'll know that customers and potential customers really care about these issues. So you're more than welcome to email this text to Jeff Bezos at

I promise to update you once I receive a reply. In the meantime here's the email:

Dear Jeff,

I'm considering to buy the Kindle and I've got a request from you.

First, let me tell you I really like you and appreciate everything you have done so far to promote book reading. In 1994 you founded and revolutionized online bookselling. You changed the book industry forever. Now you can do it again.

My request is very simple: Please make sure the Kindle is as environmentally and socially friendly as possible and share the information about your efforts with me and other interested stakeholders.

I know you look at the Kindle a more than just a business. You look at it as a mission. You said it yourself to Fortune Tech:
"We think of it as a mission. I strongly believe that missionaries make better products. They care more. For a missionary, it's not just about the business. There has to be a business, and the business has to make sense, but that's not why you do it. You do it because you have something meaningful that motivates you."

This is great, but could you please add a "green" dimension to your mission?

I mean, I know you care about what customers say and you want to take their feedback into consideration to make the Kindle the best e-reader. You told Charlie Rose that people want "
purpose built device, where no tradeoffs have been made, where every single design decision as we walking down the process has been made to optimize for reading." That's true. But I really wish you would add the word "sustainable" just before "reading".

For me, no tradeoffs mean not just better screen, but also making sure no blood minerals are used for the Kindle, that it doesn't contain harmful and hazardous substances, and that it is made in a safe working environment,
where environmentally responsible manufacturing processes are used and workers are treated with dignity and respect, and use environmentally responsible manufacturing processes.

No tradeoffs also mean to me that you're doing the best you can to make sure Kindles will be recycled by users when they stop using them and that you will publish the Kindle's carbon footprint on a regular basis to show your progress.

Yes, I know you don't like to publish figures on the Kindle sales. But this is different. This is about transparency and about showing your customers that you care not just about business, but also about the environmental and social impacts of the e-reading revolution you're leading.

I don't want to sound like a paranoid, but I'm a bit more worried when I read Ron Adner's analysis on Huffington Post that
you have "drawn a clear line in the sand indicating that when it comes to digital reader devices, the company will focus on low-end, dedicated products." Adner explains that margins of the Kindle expect to decrease to zero. His conclusion is that " it means the company can stop heavy investment in developing reading devices, and instead focus on its clear competitive advantage: selling books." It's definitely reasonable from a business standpoint, but does it mean that there won't be a place for environmental and social considerations in the design/manufacturing process of the Kindle?

Jeff, I hope you can prove I'm worried for nothing. I hope you can show that you are interested in making the Kindle the greenest e-reader in the market. Not just because it's important for planet earth, but because it is important to me and to a growing number of readers who want to make their reading more sustainable.I believe you can lead another revolution here, bringing the mainstream not just a device that provides the opportunity to 'buy once, read everywhere,' but also a truly sustainable way to read books.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant a tree for every book you read!