Writers Go Green

Posted on August 3, 2005

USA Today reports on the growing use of green printing methods in the book industry and it's mostly because a small but growing number of authors are asking for it. The article says the authors want to use new technologies like recycled paper.

Jerome Kramer, editor in chief of Kirkus Reviews, says the involvement of big-name writers can help increase that number. "It's always important to bear in mind what a small tip of the iceberg any author is. When an author with some cachet gets behind the issue, the reasonable assumption is that the impact would be exponential and would get the conversation going."

Environmental groups are hoping he is right. "If authors are working to push the publishers along with us, it sends a strong message," says Pam Wellner of Greenpeace, one of several groups calling for changes in publishing. Greenpeace wants book paper to be 100% recycled or, at least, a combination of recycled paper and wood pulp not harvested from old-growth or endangered forests.

The issue recently drew attention when 2.5-million-member Greenpeace asked the 300,000 on its e-mail list to request that Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the Harry Potter series, conform to the group's standard. Scholastic heard from more than 12,500, Wellner says. Scholastic's Kyle Good says that while Potter books weren't published on recycled paper, "we absolutely don't use wood fiber from ancient forests."

Random House and other publishers are looking into green publishing. Of course, when everything goes to electronic paper, this will be a non-issue. As to when electronic paper and decent e-readers will appear with long-life batteries, well, it's anyone's guess. It could then became concern about disposable plastic devices and batteries that become environmental problems.

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