Major publishers such as Random House, HarperCollins and Pearson have announced and published detailed commitments to environmentally friendly paper policies. And environmentally friendly practices have been endorsed and promoted by industry trade associations such as the Association of American Publishers, Association of American University Presses, and PMA, the Independent Book Publishers Association.
For larger publishers, my spot check shows that especially among those that buy direct, the use of recycled paper still remains marginal. This is especially true for educational publishers who serve adoption markets. For some mid-range and smaller independent publishers, however, premiums in pennies per hundred weight (cwt) seem easy to absorb and/or build into price increases.
Linda Secondari, creative director of manufacturing and technology at Columbia University Press, is an example of the growing commitment to green policies among independent and university presses. “With the exception of certain backlist titles requiring the bulking of legacy papers, we are printing all new titles on ‘green’ initiative stock. Ten or 12 years ago we couldn’t afford it. But the difference today is pennies, and publishers are more aware of the impact we are having on the environment.”
Purchasing Strategies: Just in Time
Which brings me to paper-purchasing strategies. To begin with, the most sensible policy for small- to mid-range publishers is to have your printer furnish the paper, unless you can realize absolute net savings by purchasing for the run. Storing your inventory on the printers’ floor can eat up any savings and more by limiting your choice of printers, and by accumulating a useless supply of odd lots as titles move into the ‘long tail’ or out of print. Your own purchasing, management and record-keeping time needs to be factored in. And, lastly, you have to ask yourself whether tying up cash in inventory is the best use of working capital.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.