Environmentally Conscious Publishing

Most of us are concerned about the environment. We want the Earth to be here for future generations, and more importantly, we want it to sustain life for years to come.

To that end, sometimes the publishing industry has come under fire for not being environmentally friendly since it takes trees to make paper, and books are printed on paper (interestingly, you don’t hear much about how many trees it takes to make nice plush toilet paper).

In recent years, many publishers have become more “green” conscious, using recycled paper and using print-on-demand so that large amounts of unsold books don’t end up in landfills.

The Green Press Initiative (GPI) has now come out with an Environmentally Responsible Publisher Certification (ERPC). Publishers who adhere to certain standards can use the ERPC logo to show consumers that they are conscientious stewards of the environment.

I have not run the numbers, but one small publisher I know reports that when they calculated the emissions for producing recycled paper and the extra shipping of that paper to the print facility, they found that the environmental benefit was negligible.

This publisher decided to be environmentally conscious in a slightly different way. They partner with an organization called Plant with Purpose to plant a tree for every tree that goes into the printing of their books.

I do believe that being environmentally conscious is important, however, I also believe that those consumers who are the most concerned about the environment will purchase the digital version of your books instead of the print ones.

So, whether you seek to implement the Environmentally Responsible Publisher Certification or you partner with an organization called Plant with Purpose, or you do neither, you can always let your customers know that if they are concerned about the environment and saving trees, they can purchase the digital version of your books.


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6 thoughts on “Environmentally Conscious Publishing

  1. After reading Dave’s post and the article on his blog challenging whether the eBook really is “green,” I’ll be interested to see how the environmentalists view this trend. Will the printed book regain its former dominance after all?


  2. I doubt it. There is much concern about the environment and saving trees, but as the article points out, you don’t hear much about all the electronic waste. Cell phone upgrades, computer upgrades, and now e-reader and tablet upgrades all create a lot of electronic waste. We definitely need to figure out a way to recycle more the electronic equipment. However, I think the convenience of not lugging around heavy books will still give sway to ebooks.


  3. You’re probably right. However, even if someone decided to accept discarded electronics (and I know such businesses exist; there’s one my wife just learned of right here in Mobile, AL), the environmentalists would likely complain that it creates too much pollution to melt down all the metals for recycling. 🙂 Meanwhile, we continue to fill up landfills with discarded electronics. 😦


  4. Part of the point of the waste article, is that it takes A LOT of pBook purchases to be less green right now than purchasing the eBook reader (from both a manufacturing side and disposal side). That is part of the ‘green’ discussion that never gets discussed. I don’t disagree with the portability advantages of eBook readers/tablets, but the ‘green’ debate is really a red herring.


  5. I’m not sure the electronic waste debate is valid because there’s no way to gauge it. Most people will read e-books on e-readers and tablets, and I’m not sure the majority of those people are replacing said electronics on a routine basis. I don’t know anyone who has bought several e-readers, nor several tablets. And if you’re buying these electronics simply for reading, it’s likely you’re reading lots of books to begin with, which means you’re probably making the “waste” ratio work in your favour.


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