Google “Kindle cracked screen” and you’ll find page after page of Kindle owners lamenting their loss. Some never subjected their device to any force. No drops, no knocks, nothing. Just one day, they open it up and find the screen a mess of black lines exploding in all directions.
The Kindle is a mobile device; a device meant to take drops, dips, knocks and scrapes. If it’s meant to travel along with its reader on a trip to the beach or even just down the hall to the bathroom for some light toilet reading, it’s subject to danger that fixed devices do not experience.
Yet they are not built to last.
Despite the publishing industry being incredibly wasteful with all its use of trees, water, chemicals, it still takes, according to one study, the purchase of 22.5 ebooks instead of paper books to displace the carbon emissions of one Kindle.
The key there is purchase “instead of paper books.” A lot of people buy a lot of $0.99 cent eBooks that they don’t even read. When talking average-sized books it’ll take much longer to go through that number of books, which is why the Kindle needs to be more durable to be truly green.
With the Kindle being as ubiquitous as it is (and often unnecessary for so many users) it makes for an interesting case study of durability and sustainability. How many users buy 22.5 eBooks instead of paper books before their Kindle gets trashed or replaced for a new model?
Amazon doesn’t offer to fix Kindles with broken screens. They will take it back and offer a discount on a replacement then ask for the old to be sent back. Not surprising since the screen is such a sizable chunk of the device’s cost: $50 from Ebay.
Should You Repair Your Kindle?
Though Amazon won’t fix it and it’s hard to find repair shops to do the job, you can do it. Instructables has a 10-step tutorial on disassembling, repairing and reassembling a Kindle. It’s pretty straightforward, but takes time, patience and a steady hand as that replacement glass is ultra-fragile and can easily break if handled incorrectly. And given its cost it’s not the kind of thing to play around with.
At $50 a shot it becomes hard to justify spending that amount, waiting for it to ship from China, installing the glass (with the risk of breaking it) when you can get a new Kindle for $69. If you want to make the right choice for the planet it’s still the right decision of course, but Amazon isn’t making it easy for people to go this route given the high cost of their screens and low cost of their new Kindles (oh and who can forget FREE Super Saver Shipping!).
Though for those who own a more expensive Kindle model that costs $139 or $179 it makes a lot more sense for both the environment and for the pocketbook to go the DIY route and fix it rather than buying anew. However, with the fast pace that new models come out all too often that cracked-screen Kindle gets tossed.
Just as we learn how to repair a bike that we use every day, it’s worth getting to know how to fix technology that we use every day. Particularly a device like the Kindle. Despite their fragile construction, they are the kind of device that a user could conceivably have for years and years without needing to upgrade since they aren’t changing much and already perform the simple tasks they are needed to do.
And it goes beyond just being a question of saving dollars and carbon, but gaining the ability to repair technology whenever a problem arises. With technology such as this that does not need to be replaced every few years it just makes sense to keep it and repair it.
Editor Note: According to the EPA, in 2009, only 25% of electronic waste was recycled. The rest went into a landfill. Recycling electronics reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves resources since valuable materials are recovered.
Photo by Kodomut