Saturday, May 31, 2008

Revolutionizing the publishing industry in American Idol style

American Idol gave a chance to names you haven't heard before like Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood to become famous singers. But how about writers? is there any similar platform that like American Idol will give talented writers a chance to bypass the industry's typical boundaries and hit the spotlight? well, actually there is. It's called: WEbook.

What's WEbook? here's the intro on their website: "WEbook is the home of groundbreaking Community-Sourced Content. We hope to do for publishing what American Idol did for music. Founded in 2007, WEbook is the vision of a few occasionally erudite people who believe there are millions of talented writers whose work is ignored by the staid and exclusive world of book publishing. It just makes sense: If you create a dynamic, irreverent, and open place for writers and readers to meet, write, react, and think together, the results will be extraordinary. Cue, an online platform that allows writers, editors, reviewers, illustrators, and others to join forces to create great works of fiction and non-fiction, thrillers and essays, short stories, children’s books and more. The WEbook community will rate and elevate the very best work for publication under the WEbook imprint."

For aspired writers WEbook offers the chance of being published. The screening process is a bit unique - the community itself vote for its favorite content, and a la American Idol, help to choose the next published books for the WEbook imprint. The selected authors also enjoy two big advantages - zero costs and the best royalites in the business (according to WEbook) - 50% of all profits generated from the sale of WEbook titles.

But WEbook is more than a platform of ‘get the love of the audience and get famous’ a la American Idol. It is also a community of authors, editors, reviewers, illustrators and others who meet online and join forces together to create
the great next books.

WEbook published their first book last February, a thriller titled
Pandora (a joint effort of 17 authors!), and according to Springwise they have plans to publish another 3 to 5 books this year. Beginning July 4, the WEbook community will begin selecting the lead candidates for the next publication cycle.

This is definitely a non-traditional publishing model and I like it! It combines the advantages of both the digital age and social networking/online communities, creating a revolutionary platform to create great new books. I am not saying this should come instead of the traditional platforms, but it’s definitely time to have a lit version of American Idol that will offer anonymous talents an alternative way to become the bestsellers of tomorrow.

It’s also worthwhile to pay attention to the investors backing this venture and their team. These guys are serious and mean business, and my guess is that they aim higher than just being a lit version of American Idol. I believe that they would like to see WEbook revolutionizing publishing in the way Yair Goldfinger (one of the investors) and his colleagues in ICQ revolutionized instant messaging and the online world as a whole. Just wait and see.

Friday, May 30, 2008

2007 went well for book publishers but what's next?

It's BEA time now and the book publishing industry is on the news. Today the New York Times present interesting sales figures of the industry. The bottom line? 2007 was a good year to the industry but this is already the past. The future is uncertain.

The article ("Potter Was Still Magical, But Not All Books Rose") reports the following: "Publishers sold 3.13 billion books last year, compared with 3.1 billion in 2006, an increase of just 0.9 percent, according to Book Industry Trends 2008, an annual report that analyzes sales in the United States. Higher retail prices helped net revenue increase 4.4 percent, to $37.3 billion, from $35.7 billion."

Though this sounds like a good news, it seems that publishers are worried. It is of course because of the weak economy and the uncertainty it brings with it to business. The estimates for 2008 sales according to the Book Industry Trends Report are for a small decline of 0.7% in comparison with 2007. Growth projected to the next few years is either flat or less than 1%, which atcually is no different than 2007 figures (0.9% growth).

Is there a green angle here? I believe there is. I think and I intend to go into it more thoroughly in the next couple of weeks that publishers that will go green will be in a much better position than those who won't. I can see it in every level of the operations - strategically (becoming well-prepared to a carbon-regulated market), financially (achieving greater efficiency in every element of the operations), marketing wise (establishing differentiation from competitors, more positive media attention) and last but definitely not least - meeting growing customers' concerns on the environmental impacts of their life style and providing them a greener offer so many are looking for.

I hope many publishers will find the green route not as a luxury, but as a route that can help them go through a relatively weak economy and strengthen their business. As I mentioned we'll get into it in the next couple of weeks with more details about what does it actually means for publishers to go green, with some examples of publishers that already enjoy the fruits of their decision to go green.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Recommnedation on a guide with the best green books to read this summer

Summer is almost here (maybe already here, depends where you live..), and nothing like a good green book to chill a hot day.

Which green book fits summer the best? SmartPlanet's team chose ten of the hottest eco books of the season, from ethical wedding and green beauty guides to eco getaway listings and tips for recycling rubbish.

This guide includes green books such as How Green Are My Wellies?, by Anna Shepard, Ecoescape 2008, by Laura Burgess and more. You can find the SmartPlanet's guide at

The guide also reminds that you can always green up these books by balancing them out with Eco-Libris, as well use swapping books sites such as
BookCrossing and We definitely support both recommendations!

And last word - thank you to all the dear people who sent their congrats for my beautiful new baby girl - Shira (see photo below)! Shira is already doing her first green steps and I can't wait to read her a green book :-)

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

BookExpo America - here we come!

Tomorrow will start in Los Angeles BookExpo America (BEA) 2008, the premier publishing industry event in the U.S.

This is very exciting event and with over 2,000 exhibitors from around the world, BEA showcases the world's largest English-language selection of books. It will also have special industry and author events, including some very interesting panels on green issues.

If you're looking for green panel, Friday (May 30) is your day:

9:30 -10:30 a.m. (room 402B) - Environmental Trends: Where Does the U.S. Book Industry Stand Today?

This panel is sponsored by the Green Press Initiative with the following panelists: Michael Healy (Executive Director, Book Industry Study Group), Tyson Miller (Director, Green Press Initiative), Nicole Poindexter (Director Strategic Planning, Hachette Book Group), Jen Slajus (Operations Manager, Borders Group, Inc.)

10:00 - 11:00 a.m. (room 402A) - Buying, Packaging & Publishing Green Books: The Publishers' Perspective

Beyond the physicality of Green books, rather, an in-house discussion perspective; finding niches and meeting the demands of an explosion of green lifestyles. Today, Green is pervasive in just about every aspect of daily living - building, investments, travel, retirement, cooking etc., - which was not the case two years ago. How are publishers addressing this phenom?

Edward Nowotka - Books Columnist, Bloomberg News & Southern Correspondent, Publishers. Panelists: Mark Tauber - Deputy Publisher, HarperOne, Kathy Schneider - Assoc. Publisher, HarperCollins, Martin Rowe - VP & Editor-in-Chief, Lantern Books and Suzanne Taylor - VP, Gibbs Smith

11:30 a.m - 12:30 p.m. (room 402A) Raising Dangerous Boys and Daring Girls: Children, Literature, and the Green Movement

There was a time when literature inspired children to explore nature and reveal in the great outdoors, but a new generation of plugged in children raised on Ipods, Guitar Hero, and the Internet shows little interest in discovering the natural world. What's the future of the environmental movement if kids choose the virtual world over the real one? Can literature continue to inspire children and parents to go outside and play?

Collette Morgan - owner, Wild Rumpus bookstore. Panelists: Jessica Woods - Children's Mgr., Northshire Books, Chris Morrow - GM, Northshire Books, Richard Louv - author, Last Child in the Woods and TA Barron - Audubon Medal recipient, The Great Tree of Avalon

1:00 - 2:00 p.m (room 402A) Investing in a Sustainable World: How the Green Revolution will Create New Industries, Opportunities, Economies and Fortunes

Moderator: David Andelman - Executive Editor, Forbes and author, A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay. Panelists: Dr. Matthew Kiernan - Founder and CEO, Innovest and author, Investing in a Sustainable World and Michael Shellenberger - author, BREAK THROUGH: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility

1:30 - 2:30 p.m. (room 402B) Climate Change and the Book Industry

Many U.S. publishers, large and small, are responding to environmental challenges in innovative and successful ways. Join this session to discover more about these innovations and to learn how leading industry pioneers have conducted their own carbon audits, calculated the average carbon output from the lifecycle of a book, and taken simple steps to reduce climate impacts, use renewable energy, and much more.

Tyson Miller - Director, Green Press Initiative. Panelists: Tona Pearce-Myers - Prod. Dir., New World Library, Andrew Van Der Laan - Sr. Project Manager, Random House and Michael Powell - President, Powell's Books.

2:30 - 3:30 p.m. (room 402A) Changing How We Shop: Understanding the Shades of Green Consumerism

Panelists: Lori Bongiorno - author, Green Greener Greenest, Diane MacEachern - author, Big Green Purse, Richard Bangs - author, Adventures with Purpose and Quest for Kaitiakitanga

Two more events that we would like to recommend on are:

1. Panel on Green Retailing at the, on Thursday (May 29, 2008) - 11:00 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. It's part of the ABA Day of Education at BookExpo America. The program is open exclusively to ABA bookstore and provisional members.

This session will present a panel of experts from bookselling and beyond who will discuss how we can all be smarter, cleaner, more efficient retailers, and how we can save money by going green!

Moderator: Oren Teicher of ABA

Panelists: Suzy Staubach, Manager of University of Connecticut Co-op (Storrs, CT), Natalie Freidberg of All Shades of Green (Los Angeles, CA), and Ferris Kawar, VP Sustainability Greenopia and The Green Media Group, LLC.

2. On Friday (May 30), don't miss Thomas Friedman who will discuss his new book: 'Hot, Flat and Crowded'.

As you can see BEA will have many interesting green events, but does it also walk the talk? well apparently not so much. According to AP, around 30,000 event guides, just over 40 pages long, will be distributed at the Los Angeles Convention Center, along with 19,000 copies of the 700-page program guide. More than 10 million pages in all will be printed, none on recycled paper.

When asked about it, BookExpo vice president and show manager Lance Fensterman told The Associated Press that "we are fully aware that improvement can be made in our green-related efforts," and also that BookExpo welcomes any "constructive suggestions". Well, here's a constructive suggestion - give us a call! We have few ideas that can help you green BEA up.

My colleague, Eylon Israely, who runs Eco-Libris in Seattle will attend the show and will send us reports from there, so stay tuned for more news from BEA.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Congratulation to Peleg & Raz + Top Ten Eco-Friendly Baby Shower Gifts

It's that time of the year, or something. The Eco-Libris family grew yet again earlier today, when a new baby girl was born to Peleg and Raz Godelnik. Yes, our illustrious CEO and blogger is now a proud green parent. Now you understand why he's been reviewing all these green children's books of late :)

To celebrate the occasion, today's post brings some ideas for baby gifts. It was originally published in Eco Child's Play. We'll post some pictures later, promise.

Moby Baby WrapI've never been a big fan of baby showers (my children had Blessing Ways), and the silly baby shower games annoy me. The typical baby shower involves massive amounts of baby paraphernalia gifts that the soon-to-be mom often doesn't really need. A friend of mine recently asked me to make a list of eco-friendly baby shower gift ideas. This list includes babywearing items, bpa-free bottles, teething toys, clothes, and beauty products for babe. You don't have to be invited to an "eco" baby shower to give a green gift.

Top Ten Eco-Friendly Baby Shower Gifts

  1. Moby Wrap Baby Carrier: This wrap is perfect for carrying newborns. It is the most comfortable baby wearing apparatus, and it keeps the baby snugly held against your body and protected from curious strangers and their germs. It is made from a large piece of stretch cotton and can be used as a blanket as well as a wrap. It is available in an organic cotton material too.

  2. California Baby Shampoo and Bodywash: This all natural, SLS-free baby soap is perfect for a newborn's first bath. It is so gentle and safe, and it will not irritate eczema and cradle crap.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eco-Libris' bookstores series: interview with Marva Allen of Hue-Man Boostore and Cafe

Starting few weeks ago with the interview of James “Surendra” Conti of East West Bookstore, we continue in our presentations of the bookstores that are part of our bookstores program and the people behind them.

Today we have the pleasure to present you with the
Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe of Harlem, NY and its co-owner and managing partner, Marva Allen.

When I entered Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe few months ago, I knew immediately I arrived to a unique bookstore. The bookstore located in the heart of Harlem, New York has established itself as an important part of the commercial revival of Harlem, becoming the largest and best-known African-American bookstore in the U.S.

This focus is very clear from the minute you enter the store - the majority of the 4,000-square-foot bookstore's inventory comprises titles by or about African Americans, with a close of New York Times bestsellers and titles by authors from the Caribbean and African Diaspora.

Hue-Man was opened on Aug. 1, 2002. Between the attendees were rapper Jay-Z, singer Stevie Wonder, and actor Wesley Snipes attended, and poet Maya Angelou provided a special dedication. Since its opening, Hue-Man has developed many community projects and collaborations with local organizations.

One example is the work of the Melvin Van Peebles Foundation (Melvin Van Peebles has joined Hue-Man in 2004). Since 2005, the foundation has worked with first graders from PS 123, the Mahalia Jackson school, to introduce good reading habits and provide them with gift cards to purchase their own books. Many have never entered a bookstore before. Students are brought back to the bookstore for repeat visits once in their second and third grade years to continue to foster good reading habits and a love of literature.

The store god media attention from all over the world in June 2004, when former President Bill Clinton signed 2,000 copies of his autobiography My Life at Hue-Man (photos above of the event are from Hue-Man's website).

Marva Allen joined Hue-Man as a majority partner and CEO in 2004, after being president and a co-owner of USI, a multi-million dollar technology firm in Southfield, MI. Allen brought with her tremendous analytical skills and extensive business and management experience to spearhead the growth of the bookstore. She holds a BSN from SGI in England, a B.S in Biology from the University of Michigan and an M.S in Health & Business Administration.

She is also the recipient of numerous business awards, including The IBM & Kodak Excellence Award, MMBDC Diamond Award, Crain's Business 40 Under 40 Award for significantly achieving in business before her 40th birthday. Allen is currently a member of the Board of Trustees for St. Hope Leadership Academy founded by NBA player Kevin Johnson and a LitWorld, an organization concerned with literacy around the world.

And one last update: On May 13, 2008, Marva was recognized by The New York Urban League for her committement to the community. As a recepient of the The Frederick Dougkas Award, she embodies the mission of the award which was created in 1965 to " honor leaders in the private and public sectors whose contributions to society serve to eliminate racial barriers and promote opportunities for the disadvantaged. " Congrats!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marva over the email and learn more about Hue-Man:

So tell me a bit about Hue-Man Bookstore. When it all began?

August 2002 with the regentrification of Harlem.

What's the most special characteristic of the store?

It is more than a bookstore. It is a sanctuary that holds a lot of history.

What role the store has in the life of Harlem, where it is located?

We have become a Mecca of culture and a continuation of the long literary history of Harlem.

What changes the store went over in the last couple of years?

hanging marketplace. With the gentrification of Harlem we our name Hue-man is even more relevant. We are updating our inventory to reflect our changing neighborhood.

What do your customers like most about the store?

It warmth and friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Can you tell me about the events in the store?

We have 25 events a month many by well know or celebrity authors. This brings to Harlem a quality not seen before.

What is the best selling book right now?

Audacity of hope and The New Earth

What is the all times best selling book in the store?

Bill Clinton's Memoir

What do you like most about the store?

I love everything about the store. The community, friendships and the amazing rolodex of people that come into Hue-man.

Any special message you want to send to book lovers in New York?

Come spend an afternoon with us, and mother's can have the bet coffee in Harlem while their children listen to Story hours on Saturday from 11-12

Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe

2319 Frederick Douglass BlvdBetween 124th and 125th StreetsNew York, NY 10027

Monday-Saturday: 10:00 a.m - 8:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Check out
Hue-Man's events, find yourself a nice sunny morning or afternoon and visit this special bookstore. With their unique inventory, the inviting and warm atmosphere and the coffee shop located in the store, you won't regret it! And of course, don't forget to check at the counter the opportunity to balance out your books with Eco-Libris and receive our sticker on spot.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Friday, May 23, 2008

What's the best green book to give your dad on Father's Day?

Mother's Day is already behind us and now it's time for fathers to get some attention. Father's Day will be celebrated in many courtiers (including the U.S.) on June 15 and it's time to start thinking - what gift will make your father happy? If bringing something to your mom was relatively easy, I bet finding your dad the right gift is much harder (at least in my case..).

As always I think a book is a great gift and a green book is even better, benefiting both your father and the environment! To help you finding the right green book to give this Father's Day, we went over all the books reviewed and covered on our blog and chose ten books that we think will suit ten different types of dads we detailed below.

I must admit that this time it was a bit harder than finding the right books for Mother's Day, as it seems that the majority of green books are targeted at women. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of great green books I'm sure dads will enjoy. So check out the our list and we hope you find the right green book to your dad!

1. For the father who likes to build and renovate

Does your father like to renovate the house on the weekends? is he dreaming about the building a new house? if you answer 'yes' to any of these questions, that's a book he will need to do it in a green manner.

This book, written by Eric Corey Freed, an architect from San Francisco, CA, is "your friendly, step-by-step guide to every facet of this Earth-friendly method of construction." The book provides an introduction to every facet of green building, from start to finish, including the materials, architecture, and construction methods of green building and remodeling for both homeowners and professionals such as architects, interior designers, and contractors.

2. For the thinking father

This is a book for all the fathers who don't get everything for granted and always like to learn about the alternatives, especially when it comes to the models that dictate our lives.

In this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. McKibben puts forward a new way to think about the things we buy, the food we eat, the energy we use, and the money that pays for it all. The book opens up a different way of thinking about happiness, individuality, community and ambition -- all while providing solid info on the most important issues facing us as a society today.

3. For the escapist father

How to live off-grid: Journeys Outside the System by Nick Rosen

If your father ever considered leaving his bourgeois life and living off the grid, this guide is a must for him. If he haven't, after reading the book, he might will..

In "How to live off-grid", Nick Rosen goes into every detail of off-grid living. He provides not only the inspiration to get off the beaten track and find your own space, but also countless resources to help you do just what he suggests. To gather the information to write this book, Nick took to the road with his wife and baby daughter in a converted care bus fuelled by vegetable oil and sun. They toured the UK meeting with off-gridders of all sorts. Their stories are fascinating, inspiring and sometimes quite far-out. But they all have some lessons to pass on to those of us who until now have only dream about being self-sufficient.

4. For the techie father who is interested in energy

Earth: The Sequel by Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn

This is the perfect book for all the techie fathers out there that new technologies make them feel woozy (from the good reasons) and will be happy to learn a thing or two about clean energy.

This new book, co-authored by
Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn, brings a fresh and well researched perspective on “the race to reinvent energy and stop global warming.” 'Earth: The Sequel' is not only a primer on the various new technologies being developed to produce clean energy, reduce pollution and increase efficient energy use, but also a celebration of the spirit of entrepreneurship around these developments.

5. For the father with farming ambitions

Here's a book about the experiences of a guy who exchanged the suburbs he grew up in into a farm life in New Mexico. Maybe it will convince your father to follow suit..

Like many Americans, Doug Fine enjoys his creature comforts, but he also knows full well they keep him addicted to oil. So he wonders: Is it possible to keep his Netflix and his car, his Wi-Fi and his subwoofers, and still reduce his carbon footprint? In an attempt to find out, Fine up and moves to a remote ranch in New Mexico, where he brazenly vows to grow his own food, use sunlight to power his world, and drive on restaurant grease. Both a hilarious romp and an inspiring call to action, 'Farewell, My Subaru' makes a profound statement about trading today’s instant gratifications for a deeper, more enduring kind of satisfaction.

6. For the corporate father

Climate Change: What's Your Business Strategy? by Andrew J. Hoffman and John G. Woody

Does your father work in a managerial position in the corporate world? this book is will be of interest to any decision maker in the corporate world. Eventually it might be that not only your father will thank you for this book, but all of her company..

Believe or not - climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today. Most of all, it is quickly becoming a crucial business issue. But how will you and your company respond? You need fast and reliable advice from the world's foremost experts. 'Climate Change' delivers just that: four strategies from two MBA professors with broad and deep experience with environmental issues.

7. For the busy father

Everyone are busy, and so is your probably your father. This is the book to show them how going green is not necessarily time consuming.

The Armchair Environmentalist is “a three minute-a-day action plan to save the world.” It focuses on what individuals can do to reduce their use of energy and water and create a healthier environment at home and at work. It is an easy read and chocked full of cute pictures and graphics. Printed on 100% recycled paper, this little book can fit easily into a briefcase or handbag, making it that much easier to take the info "to go".

8. For the nature-loving father

If your father enjoys spending time in nature and prefer the woods over the living room, he will enjoy this story about a unique person who went naked into the wilderness to survive for two months without any food, human contact, tools or ready made shelter.

Joseph Knowles was a forty-five-year-old part-time painter, ex-Navy man, friend of the Sioux, and onetime hunting guide who stepped-nearly naked-into the woods to live off the land and his own devices. In 'Naked in the Woods', environmental author and journalist Jim Motavalli not only portrays faithfully the life and times of Knowles, and the enthusiasm and controversy around his wilderness exploits, but also opens a window to the era.

9. For the father who wants to be a green parent

The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Earth-Friendly Living

This book is for fathers (and mothers) who would like to green up their family's life style and teach their children about living green.

'The Green Parent' covers a variety of subjects that have environmental impacts from parenting points of view - energy, water, garbage, pets, transportation, work, shopping and many more. Each chapter is dedicated to a different subject and includes useful tips, recommendations how to use your money wisely while going green, suggestions how to get your kids involved in the process of greening up, information on relevant issues such as green labels and very interesting interview with green parents.

10. For the father who is looking for the right answers

“Should I buy my beer in bottles or cans?” - if your father has many everyday questions like this one, this book would make him very happy.

Hey, Mr. Green is a cumulative assortment of green every day questions and answers posed to Bob Schildgen (aka “Mr Green”) for his column in the Sierra Magazine. It is divided into five sections: “At Home” ( domestic details,) “Food for Thought” (eating and drinking better while spending less,) “Out and About” (fueling up and the great outdoors,) “The three Rs ( you know what this means, ) and “The Big Picture” (environmental politics, religion, and other interesting meal time topics.)

If you choose to give your father a book as a gift, you are more than welcome to balance it out with Eco-Libris, add our sticker to the book and make it the perfect green gift for Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Greetings to Oren and Alex Entin for their new baby!

Eco-Libris family has just grown! We are happy to announce that our dear team member Oren Entin and his wife Alex are the proud parents of Aymar, a sweet little baby that was born last Tuesday in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Greetings to Oren and Alex!! A new baby is always a blessing and we're very happy for them and wish them a lot of happiness and joy!

So, here are first photos of Aymar (alone and with the proud parents).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Starting Tomorrow: Pilcrow Lit Fest in Chicago

If you're in Chicago the next few days and looking for a real literary feast, head over to Pilcrow Lit Fest. Yep, seems like once again Chicago is the place to be, less than a week since the Chicago Green Festival.

When? Thursday, May 22 to Sunday, May 25
Where? Several locations around the city. Check the calendar.

So what's a Pilcrow? Well, unless you are a real typographical hardcore fanatic, I think this wikipedia article does a good job explaining.
About the festival, I'll let Amy Guth, author of Three Fallen Women, and the festival's organizer take the stand:

Q: Can you explain what is the Pilcrow Lit Fest all about?

A: Pilcrow Lit Fest is a four-day literary festival with particular focus on small press and independent media, taking place in Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25th. Throughout the festival, we have scheduled parties, networking events, panel discussions on a variety of topics, readings and performances. I've never heard of a lit festival having any sort of green focus, and that is a high-priority of mine, so I have made an effort to keep it as responsible as possible, even going so far as to include a local environmental activist in the planning phases to make sure I'd thought of every way possible to green the festival up.

Q: What's the story behind the creation of this festival?

A: When I was touring around the US and Canada to promote my first novel, Three Fallen Women, I had the opportunity to speak at the
Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta, the (Downtown) Omaha Lit Fest and the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and there was a certain something about the way the festivals were executed that I knew would translate well in Chicago. There is such a wonderful and large literary community in Chicago, yet few events to really bring all of us together, so I decided to create the festival and focus it primarily in the direction of small presses, independent media and DIY sort of efforts.

Q: What's the thing you like most about the festival?

A: I would have to say that the thing I like most about the festival is the community-building aspect of it all, as writing is a rather solitary profession, and because most communication is done over email, it's wonderful to meet people face to face, share ideas and discuss common issues, concerns and goals. I'm probably most pleased by the fact that as we've planned and arranged aspects and events of the festival, we've worked with an eye towards keeping the festival as eco-friendly as possible, and made a point to operate with repurposed items, borrowed items, and have used as few resources as possible in the festival's execution.

Q: Is it only for authors or also for aspiring authors who haven't published yet?

A: Pilcrow Lit Fest is for absolutely anyone. Our participating authors, writers and publishers are all in varying stages of their own careers, and all from very diverse backgrounds. I made a point to keep as may events free and low-cost as possible, so events wouldn't be cost-prohibitive to anyone. I also intentionally didn't have any "headliner" guests, so that every participant and attendee feels equally welcome at Pilcrow.

Q: Besides authors, is it also for your average Chicago book lover?

A: Absolutely. The panel discussion are, as I mentioned, free and open to the public. I tried to create a mix of panel topics that are useful not only to published authors and seasoned publishers but also to not-yet published authors, and enthusiastic readers.

Q: Can you name please some of the authors who will participate, or some of the main attractions?

A: I've put much focus on not having a headliner, so that no authors feel more or less valuable to the festival than another. All the participating authors, publishers and designers are listed on the Pilcrow Lit Fest website so everyone to read about, including available links to their websites or online projects.

During the course of the weekend, however, we have a lot of exciting events. Thursday night,
Jami Attenberg and Katie Schwartz read at the Fixx Readings Series, which I host each month. Friday night, right before our official opening night reception, we have a special edition of The Dollar Store Show--- a performance event where pre-selected authors are given an item purchased at a dollar store in advance and must write a comedic piece about the object and read it before the crowd. Saturday, after a day of panel discussions, we are hosting a benefit party to raise much-needed funds for New Orleans Public Library branches damaged and destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. For that event, I've asked authors to disassemble a copy of their own book then reassemble it into a piece of art for auction. I'm very excited for that event. I've rebuilt my own first novel, Three Fallen Women for the occasion, and the artwork being created is really sounding incredible. Other authors have donated other items for auction, too. Nick Hornby donated a handwritten list yanked from his notebook, that he wrote as he brainstormed songs to use for his book Songbook. I'm very excited about that. I'm also very excited to be linked up with Eco-Libris for the event. As I've been explaining the system to authors and publishers, they're all terribly excited to know more, so I'm really thrilled to be able to introduce them all to the work done by Eco-Libris. A note from Eco-Libris:

Amy indeed introducing Eco-Libris to all festival goers, and encouraging participating authors to balance out the paper in their books. In addition to that, Eco-Libris stickers will be available in the New Orleans Public Library fundraiser event during the festival, and we will donate an extra tree for every sticker auctioned.

Eylon @ Eco-Libris
Plant a Tree for Every Book you Read!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Green Options - Eco Kids’ Books: William is Going Green

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Jennifer Lance on May 13 on Eco Child's Play. Today's post is about a new book written by a father and his son about a garbage truck and what happens to it when it finds it needs to go green to keep itself employed.

William is Going GreenWilliam is Going Green, written by James Martin II and James Martin III, is the story of a garbage truck that loses his job, because he is too polluting. In search of a new job, William travels from town to town until he finds a green, clean city. He is told he could be hired as a recycling truck, if only he had a hybrid engine. Unfortunately, out-of-work William does not have the money for a new, cleaner engine, until he rescues a cat from a sewer. The cat Gage belongs to a mechanic, and William is given a hybrid engine and coat of green paint in reward for the rescue. The author explains, "My son James III and I created the William the Garbage Truck & Crew series to share what we learned about global warming and the benefits of conservation.”

My son, like many boys, adores trucks. He enjoyed William is Going Green when his sister read it to her, but there is one thing about the story I find a bit awkward. I do think that
city garbage trucks should have hybrid motors, but as mentioned in the book, the cost to convert a truck is expensive and not readily available. William's reward for rescuing a cat is not the solution for most city garbage trucks, and I think it is a little misleading to children who really want to see change. Perhaps there is another way William could have gotten a new hybrid motor from recycling proceeds, donations, gas taxes, etc. Maybe I am too much of a realist, but I like my green children's fiction to address the realities of environmental change. This part of the story didn't bother my children at all, and they really did like it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday's green books series - Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life

Today on our Monday's green books series, we're having 8-steps program to go green. If you're into programs that take you step after step to your goal and you wanna go green, you should check it out.

Our book for today is:

Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life

Author: Sophie Uliano

Sophie Uliano is a passionate environmentalist who has developed an earth-friendly lifestyle that appeals to women who don't want to compromise their glamour or style. She lives in Hollywood, California, with her husband and daughter.

Publisher: Collins

Published on: April 8, 2008

What it is about (from the
publisher's website):
Are you confused by all the advice you hear and see daily on how to "go green"? Do you want to incorporate earth-friendly practices into your life, but you don't know where to start? Don't stress! Green guru Sophie Uliano has sorted through all the eco-info out there and put everything you need to know about living a green lifestyle right at your fingertips.

In 'Gorgeously Green', Sophie offers a simple eight-step program that is an easy and fun way to begin living an earth-friendly life. Each chapter covers topics from beauty to fitness, shopping to your kitchen—even your transportation. Whether it's finding the right lipstick, making dinner, buying gifts, or picking out a hot new outfit, finally, there is a book that tackles your daily eco-challenges with a take-charge plan.

Why you should get it:
1. I like the idea of a steps-program. Many people find themselves confused with all the green alternatives that they hear about and don't know where to start or how much to change and in what pace. Sometimes all you need is a good program to follow and I also agree with the attitude of making changes in steps. The author said in an interview to "I agree that it is hard to break old habits. My suggestion is to break one habit at a time." I couldn't agree more.

2. It might be obvious to some, but to many it's still not clear that going green can be relatively easy, can save you money and does not mean you have to be less fashionable or less cool. This book intends to guide you how to do it right.

3. The 8 steps touch important aspects of life: mind (awareness), body (cosmetics and food), home, daily activities (shopping, transportation) and even having fun. It might not give you all the answers you're looking for, but for sure it can be a good road map to start the green journey with.

Wants to learn more? check
Sophie Uliano's blog, which is full of green tips and information.

If you're looking for other interesting green books, you are invited to check out our
green books page on our website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May Challenge: 'Be a Bookwarm'

It's mid-May now, but you still have time for a green books challenge, which was initiated by the blog GREEN BEAN DREAMS: BE A BOOKWORM. I learned about it only yesterday while reading this excellent blog and hence the late notice.

Here are the details from GREEN BEAN DREAMS: My appreciation of books leads me to launch my (likely one and only) challenge: BE A BOOKWORM. I challenge you to read a single, ecologically relevant book during the month of May. Post a comment if you'd like to participate so that I can add you to my sidebar. Once you have selected your book, post another comment. I'll keep a running tab of books being read. At the end of the month, I will post a Reading Roundup soliciting your comments on the book you read, whether you'd recommend it and what you learned.

You can find more details and the growing list of great green books on GREEN BEAN DREAMS. If you want more ideas, you're welcome to check the list of green books we covered so far on our blog.

It's a great challenge and I hope you all take part in it. I will certainly will. I chose to read a book that is waiting for me on my shelf for some time: 'This Place on Earth: Home and the Practice of Permanence' by Alan Durning. I hope to bring you a review of it in a couple of weeks.

The green bean said on the blog that "books affect us like nothing else" and it's definitely true and especially when it comes to books with environmentally and socially topics. I hope you will find the books that will affect you!

Enjoy the challenge!
Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Don't miss the Green Festival in Chicago this weekend

What are you doing this weekend? if you're in the Chicago area, I've got one recommendation: go to the Green Festival!

Yes, the green festival is taking place in Chicago on Saturday (5/17) and Sunday (5/18). The festival's website explains what you can expect there:

The green festival showcases more than 350 diverse local and national green businesses displaying and selling eco-friendly, fair trade and sustainable products. More than 150 visionary speakers appear for standing-room-only panel discussions, presentations and main stage speaking events.You’ll also enjoy great how-to workshops, green films, a fair trade pavilion, yoga and movement classes, kids’ zone, delicious organic beer, wine and cuisine, and live music.

The green festival is always a great event. This is the second time the festival is taking place in Chicago (it also takes place in Washington D.C., Seattle and San Francisco) and it's packed with many interesting events and discussions. You can find the full schedule of the festival right here -

Here are some more details:

Show Hours
Saturday 10AM- 8PM, Sunday 11AM- 6PM

Venue and Address
Navy Pier - 600 E Grand Avenue, Chicago

Public Transit
Via bus: 2, 66, 121 express, 124 & 129

$15 Festival Pass (per person). Entry to all activities for one day or the entire weekend. Better World Books and Green Festival are partnering to offer $5 off Green Festival admission to attendees who bring in 3 or more books. Your donated books will be sold on to help fund girls’ scholarships in developing countries in Asia through Room to Read.

And if you're getting there, don't forget to say hello to some of our partners that will exhibit in the festival including Kedzie Press, Chapter One Organics/The Green Eaters and Barefoot Books.

New research from Australia: agroforestry and reforestation are an important carbon sink

There is an ongoing debate on the effectiveness of trees planting operations as a tool mitigate global warming. A new research from Australia adds more input into it, showing that agroforestry and reforestation are an important carbon sink.

The research, as reported on The Age, was conducted by researchers from Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence, and Queensland Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries. It was presented to an agriculture, greenhouse gases and emissions trading conference on the Gold Coast.

Dr. Beverley Henry from MLA, who presented the research, showed that different forms of land management had a variety of effects on soil carbon. She said, according to the article, that researchers, analysing data from 74 publications on land-use changes, had made several conclusions:

A change from native forest to crops decreased soil carbon by 42%; pasture to crop (59% decrease); native forest or pasture to broad-leaved plantation (no big change); native forest or pasture to pine plantation (12-15% decrease); native forest to pasture (8% increase); crop to pasture (18% increase); crop to secondary forest (53% increase); and crop to pasture (19% increase).

Some of the conclusions of the research presented by Dr Henry were:
  • Introducing cropping into uncleared land or pasture in good condition decreased soil carbon.
  • There was thus potential to sequester carbon in soils if cropping lands were converted to pasture or forest.

  • Conservation tillage practices might retain up to 25% more carbon in soils than conventional tillage.

  • Removing grazing pressure would in theory be expected to improve below-ground carbon stocks. However, under low disturbance regimes, grasses may become moribund, producing less root biomass.

This is only one research out of many researches that focus on this important issue, but it definitely gives some interesting input to think about when coming to plan how to fight global warming most effectively.

In any case, we have to remember that the value of tree planting operations, such as the the UNEP planting campaign, which as we reported set a goal of having 7 billion trees planted by the end of 2009, is not just because of carbon sequestering. Trees are one of the most important natural resources we have and have many other significant benefits, such as decreasing the chances for natural disasters such as floods, protection of important water resources, reduction of soil erosion, etc.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Picture Courtesy of Sustainable Harvest international

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Think Green! - Green Children's Book Review & Giveaway

Anna Hackman of Green-Talk has recently reviewed Think Green! by by author Jeanine Behr Getz and illustrator Jenny Nightingale, and thinks it's a wonderful tool to teach children how simple actions can ensure that the Planet remains safe for all creations that inhabit it. Greener choices that reduces kids' impact on our world, are illustrated throughout the book.

She is also giving away a copy of the book to one lucky reader that will tell her one lesson he or she would like to teach a child (green or otherwise.) Good Luck to everyone. The contest will run until Friday, May 16 at 6PM eastern time. So hurry up!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New goal for UNEP: Seven billion trees by the end of 2009

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced yesterday that its Billion Tree Campaign to Grow into the Seven Billion Tree Campaign.

This is great news. The Billion Tree Campaign was initiated in 2006 and in just 18 months catalyzed the planting of two billion trees, double its original target (as of today, the exact number of trees planted is 2,074,829,162).

The campaign was unveiled in 2006 as one response to the threat of global warming. The idea was inspired by Professor Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate for 2004 and founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, which has planted more than 30 million trees in 12 African countries since 1977.

Why planting trees? UNEP explain the logic: "safeguarding and planting forests were among the most cost-effective ways to slow climate change, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels in factories, power plants and cars. Trees soak up carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when burnt or when they rot. Deforestation accounts for over 20 percent of the carbon dioxide humans generate. The advantages of planting trees are well known, as well as to the wider sustainability challenges from water supplies to biodiversity loss." ('World tree planting drive sets goal of 7 billion', Reuters, 5.13.08).

UNEP were surprised with the overwhelming response of governments, businesses, organizations and people to the challenge and decided it's time to raise the bar. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, told Reuters: "In 2006 we wondered if a billion tree target was too ambitious; it was not. The goal of two billion trees has also proven to be an underestimate. The goal of planting seven billion trees, equivalent to just over a tree per person alive on the planet, must therefore also be do-able."

We truly hope that he is right. We also believe in the need to conserve natural resources and in the plenty of benefits that trees provide us with (btw - check out tomorrow's blog with a new research on the value of reforestation efforts in the fight against global warming).

Eco-Libris see itself as part of the campaign's global effort (we were featured in the past on UNEP's Billion Tree Campaign website - and we will do our best to plant as much trees as possible with our planting partners, contributing both to the planet and to making reading more sustainable.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green Options - Book Review: Off the Grid Homes - Case Studies for Sustainable Living

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, we feature a post that was originally published by Philip Proefrock on May 10 on Green Building Elements. Today's post is about a new book that presents the new look and perception of off the grid homes.

Off the Grid Homes book cover

Off the Grid Homes combines beautiful images with technical information for sustainable homes.

The book by architect Lori Ryker is less of a manual for systems to be used in off the grid homes (though it does include good information about the systems and strategies that are used in sustainable off the grid living) and more of a showcase of state of the art homes at the intersection of appealing architecture and high sustainability.

For many, the phrase "off the grid home" brings associations of a rudimentary, hand-built, rustic cabin. It usually suggests a rough hewn character and images of anything other than refinement and elegance. But that image is far from the case in examples presented in this book.