CEO of Eco-Libris, Raz Godelnik, December 20, 2010:
Last month we celebrated the 2010 Green Books Campaign. On November 10, at 1 p.m., 200 bloggers simultaneously published reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco-friendly paper, Eco-Libris aimed to raise consumer awareness about considering the environment when making book purchases.
The idea was very simple - although there’s so much hype around e-books, books printed on paper still dominate the book market (with at least 90 percent share of the book marketplace) and we want them to be as environmentally sound as possible. Still, only very few books are currently printed responsibly. With this campaign we wanted to encourage publishers to increase their green printing options and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.
The books participating in the campaign represented a great variety of subjects including cooking, poetry, travel, adventure and children’s books. It was important for us to show that printing books on eco-friendly paper shouldn’t be limited only to books on green issues. This is a practice that should be used for all genres.
The participating books were published by 56 publishers from the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the U.K. that took part in the campaign. This diversified group of publishers includes both small and large presses who all print books on recycled and/or FSC-certified paper (Infinity Publishing was one of them).
This year’s campaign was supported by Indigo Books & Music, the largest book retailer in Canada, as part of its efforts to draw attention to the need for more environmental paper in book publishing. This is a core goal of Indigo's environmental program, reinforced by Indigo's industry leading environmental paper policy. Currently Indigo is the only book retailer providing information online and through in-store kiosks that allow consumers to make informed decisions about where the paper content of their book comes from.
The campaign was very successful and we got great feedback from everyone involved – readers, bloggers, authors and publishers. Questions that we were asked again and again were: "Do readers care about “green” books?" and "Why does it really matters?"
Starting with the second (and easier) question: we are positive that readers’ preferences matter because they are the end-consumers and if they would demand books to be printed in an eco-friendly manner it will provide a significant incentive for publishers to move forward and adopt greener practices. If readers are indifferent to the type of paper books are printed on then it will be more difficult to convince publishers that using eco-friendly paper is beneficial – to succeed in this sort of change it needs to be a win-win strategy that benefits not only the environment, but also the bottom line.
Now to the first and more difficult question – do readers care? I believe they do. People are looking for ways to support the environment and take positive action and book readers are no different. I believe that two steps are required to get readers into action – the first is to provide them with information and educate them about the alternatives available. The second is to find ways to reward them for taking a positive green action. The Green Books Campaign, which we ran this year for the second year, was aimed to meet the first need (information). Now our goal is to find the best ways to meet the second need (rewards that will incentivize green action).
While working on the new challenges we defined to ourselves such as finding the right rewarding model and looking for ways to make e-reading greener, We will continue and run the Green Books Campaign next year and hopefully every following year, as we believe that educating the readers is a prerequisite for any change to come. With the strong support we have from bloggers, authors and publishers that want to see more books with a smaller footprint, we are positive we can succeed in making this change happen.Raz Godelnik is the co-founder and CEO of Eco-Libris. He also writes regularly on green business for the second-largest newspaper in Israel and teaches a course on Sustainability and Green Business at the University of Delaware's Business School. Founded in 2007, Eco-Libris is a green company working with publishers, authors, bookstores, and book lovers worldwide to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. For more information, go to http://www.ecolibris.net