Working Toward the Point of No Returns: Chelsea Green Publisher and President Margo Baldwin on the company's Green Partners program.
Margo Baldwin, publisher and president of independent publishing company Chelsea Green, has worked for a quarter of a century not only to publish books about sustainable living, but also to run her business with the same strong environmental focus. An example of this environmentally focused mission, the company’s Green Partners program offers discounts and other perks to retailers that purchase books on a no-returns basis. According to Baldwin, the response has been extremely positive, and she hopes the program will continue to grow as more book-sellers sign up in the coming year. Here, Baldwin discusses details behind the program with Book Business Extra:
Book Business Extra: How did the idea for the Green Partners program develop?
Baldwin: … The idea came out of our desire to start to solve the returns problem and make the environmental consequences of returns more visible [to] retailers as well as other publishers. We were involved in the [nonprofit advocacy organization] Green Press Initiative, but felt that we needed to go further than the use of recycled paper. …
We launched [the program] at [BookExpo America] in 2007, with our in-house sales team leading the outreach, [and] I reached out to the trade media to publicize it ….
Extra: How do retailers benefit from the program?
Baldwin: … [Program participants] get a 50-percent discount and free freight. Or, you could get 52 percent off and not get free freight. …You get a special mailing. You [are] first in line to get your shipments. You really do get treated well. You also get first dibs on author events.
… I don’t think [retailers] would do it [without the incentives]. … I do think there’s a strong commitment from the book-sellers, but they wouldn’t do it without the discounts. You have to marry the two things together. They’re having a hard time surviving, too. … It takes time, energy and money to send books back. If the industry ever looked at that, they’d see the economic benefits [of a no-returns policy].