Two Major Developments on the ‘Green’ Front
As Kermit the Frog used to say: “It’s not easy being green.” While the beloved puppet was referring to his skin color, the saying has been applied to being “green” in the environmental sense. And, not to make light of a serious situation regarding our environment, the saying has been relevant in book publishing for years—many publishers have “good intentions” (as Book Business columnist Gene Schwartz suggests in this month’s “Gene Therapy”), but they struggle to balance those good intentions with negative impacts on their bottom lines and/or their lack of know-how for making their intentions realities.
But as Kermit’s outlook changes in the course of the “It’s Not Easy Being Green” song (he realizes there are a lot of great things about being green and that, as he says, “It’s what I want to be.”), the industry’s outlook may be undergoing a sea change as well.
Last year, Random House Inc.’s announcement of its significant environmental initiative shook up the “green”-scene and put glimmers of hope in the eyes of environmental advocates. Would Random House (which purchases approximately 120,000 tons of paper annually) be the first of many other publishing conglomerates to take serious action to improve their environmental impact?
It seems that the answer may be “yes.” As we get ready to send this issue off to press, news is making its way around the industry about two major developments on the “green” front. The first “green” Bible has been released by Thomas Nelson, the sixth-largest trade publisher in the United States (see the November 2007 print edition of Book Business magazine ). With the Bible being one of the most widely distributed books in history, this news is quite significant.
Then, on Nov. 7, publishing behemoth Simon & Schuster Inc. announced a new environmental initiative and paper policy that includes plans to increase to 25 percent or more the level of recycled fiber in the company’s purchased paper by 2012. The company reports that it purchases approximately 70,000 tons of paper annually, 70 percent of which it says contains some recycled fiber content. The new goals, according to Simon & Schuster, signify “a 150-percent increase from a current 10-percent baseline level.” The company also reports that it aims to eliminate the use of paper that may contain fiber from endangered and old-growth forest areas, with a specific goal of using 10-percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper within four years.