Sunday, July 4, 2010

Publishers Going Green

I recently read an article that indicated of the 4 billion books published every year, only 5 - 10% of them make use of recycled materials. As a Greenie and a writer, it really got me thinking.

Most of you know that I wrote my first novel last fall. This book is about two days away from being able to be published (IMO mind you, no professional Editor has laid eyes on it just yet) but I’m wondering how and where I should market my piece of fiction.

Two years ago, one of our favorite musicians here at GLR, Jason Mraz, put out a photography book titled “A Thousand Things”. When it came out I thought it was super innovative for its use of sustainable materials in the paper (Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] certified wood free, chlorine free) and ink (soy based). Even the cover is wood free and, upon Jason’s request, all waste during the printing process was recycled.

Not bad! But how about for those of us who aren’t already a celebrity? When we put out our first book can we be as demanding of how it is printed or do we have to suffer as a tree is chopped down and deal with it because we don’t have any influence in the process?

Well that question is mostly rhetorical when it comes to me because if there is anything you all know about me by now it’s that I never rest quietly on what someone else says I should do! ‘Question, challenge then understand’ should be my motto in life.

So then the first question of course is: where do I begin?

Many publishers are thinking of new approaches to the questions of sustainability. For example, they may use standard tree pulp for their paper but it comes from sources deemed FSC certified*.

There is also a growing trend to offset their paper footprint in ways around the office. Chronicle Books has an Environmental Policy link right on their homepage where they talk about the Green initiatives in their office construction three years ago, as well as their support of various social and humanitarian charities through their staff’s volunteerism.

Another new movement cropping up among many publishers is the elimination of paper from their media. There are so many ways to publish electronically these days -- blogs, websites, pdf documents, even twitter! -- it is almost not necessary to cut down a tree just to put an author’s perspective out into the world.

Other publishers will plant a tree for each book printed, such as Eco-Libris. Because many of the publishers that partner with Eco-Libris print on demand (only print copies when an order is placed), it reduces the advance of materials in order to satisfy orders.

For me it will be easy enough to cross reference the publishers I find listed online with my Writer’s Market 2010 guide to publishers that I have in paperback form in my office already.

Since there is an environmental angle in my manuscript, it might not be a bad idea to start with those folks. After all, we will be on the same page when it comes to the printing process. No pun intended.

*read more about certification and sustainable forestry on the FSC.


Almost Precious said...

Maybe you could get your future book on Kindel Reader. Now that looks interesting, haven't tried it yet but have heard others say they love it.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

Good idea Anna, my SIL has one & really loves it. I guess I'm just old school, I like to turn the pages and smell that old, loved, worn-book smell when I read :-)