Sunday, May 30, 2010

Green printing tip no. 47: Does green printing cost a lot more money?

We are back today with a new tip on our weekly series of green printing tips, where we bring you information on green printing in collaboration with Greg Barber, an experienced eco-friendly printer.

Today Greg is discussing the costs of green printing and is showing how going green with your next printing job doesn't necessary mean you should pay a hefty premium for it.

Does Green Printing Cost a Lot More Money?

Tip #47

This is the number one question people ask me about Environmental printing.

My response is NO, it does not cost more if you follow some basic Green Tips.

First: Analyze your job to see if it is an offset (soy inks) job, or a
digital job (100% non toxic toner). Both are terrific processes.

My rule of thumb is, whatever can fit on 500 sheets of 14 x 20 paper that we run digtally, in 4 color printing, is probably a digital job, based on cost.

What can fit on 500 sheets?

1. 4500 postcards, size 4.25 x 6
2. 10,000 business cards
3. 1000 fliers, 8.5 x 11
4. 2000 (4 panel) greeting cards if 4.5 x 6.25 when folded.

That is a pretty good start. After 500 sheets I will check both offset and digital pricing, up to 1000 sheets.

The reason digital is less money, up to 500 sheets, is there are no start up costs, like offset printing has. i.e. No plates, make ready, etc. At 500 sheets (break even point), the start up costs are amortised , and each sheet after that (break even point) is less money printed on an offset press.

Secondly: Accept a less white 100% PCW paper and you will save $1.00 per pound on the
paper. Run 500 pounds of paper on your job, and you have a $500-$600 savings on the paper.

Most people can't tell which paper is whiter, unless they put two grades next to each other. And, if you have solid coverage, you will never guess which is whiter.

Thirdly: Be flexible on selecting your final size for your print project. A classic example is Greeting Cards. In #4 above, I say we can get 2000 greeting cards, if you choose 4.5 x 6.25 as the final, folded size. The flat size is 9 x 6.25. We can fit (4) sheets of that size on a 14 x 20 sheet of paper that we will print on.

If , on the other hand, you go with the more common folded size, 5 x 7,
printed from the flat size, 10 x 7, we can only fit (2) sheets on our 14 x
20 sheet size. You would only get 1000 finished cards.

That is an "enormous" cost difference, and we would have to throw away a
huge amount of paper waste.

So, I have only listed 3 ways, to make being Green in your printing affordable. There are a lot more ways than that, but these are the easiest to do.

For additional information, please visit and You're also invited to contact Greg via email at

You can find links to all the tips at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Do most of the students really prefer physical books on eBooks?

Congrats to all the students who had their graduation ceremonies today, as well to those who have them tomorrow! We think about this generation as one who feels much more comfortable with electronic information and devices, at least much more than my generation (X generation) or the Baby Boomers. But is this true?

A new survey found out that when it comes to bank statements or bills it's definitely accurate, but when it comes to books or magazines the picture is more complicated.

The nationwide poll, conducted by Eric Mower and Associates and commissioned by Domtar, one of North America's leading paper companies, found that while college juniors and seniors believe going paperless helps the environment, fewer than 30% would give up printed books, magazines and newspapers, photos or official documents.

Here's another interesting finding of the survey:
"When it comes to studying at school, 52% of students like materials on paper. 23% report they prefer hard copies of most notes and professors also print out class materials. Another 29% of students said that while they like hard copies, their professors tend to send out electronic copies."

You might be suspicious and wonder if the results has anything to do with the fact that the survey was commissioned by a paper company. I know that I would. I teach students and I see a reality that is a bit different, where a growing number of students feel more comfortable with paperless materials.

Yet, I read this week on The Register that "Amazon's Kindle DX is flunking out of college. According to a report by The Seattle Times, the $489, 18.9 ounce (0.54kg) Kindle DX, with its 9.7-inch monchrome e-ink display, is getting bad grades from college students."

The report on The Seattle Times mentioned that "At the University of Virginia, as many as 80 percent of MBA students who participated in Amazon's pilot program said they would not recommend the Kindle DX as a classroom study aid (though more than 90 percent liked it for pleasure reading)." Why? Well, one of the students quoted in the article explained that "You don't read textbooks in the same linear way as a novel. You have to flip back and forth between pages, and the Kindle is too slow for that. Also, the bookmarking function is buggy."

Amazon, according to the article, seems to be taking the student feedback seriously. The company last month announced software upgrades enabling Kindle users to sort books into collections and zoom in on PDF documents.

It looks to me though that even though now the electronic reading devices might not provide a superior alternative to printed textbook, this situation will change in 5 up to 10 years. Better technology, more user friendly features and the option to get the textbooks in a much cheaper price should do the work for electronic textbooks. I also believe that the number of students willing to exchange their printed books in electronic books is much greater than 30%, but at the same time, the real test is how many students will actually do it and not just talk about it.

What do you think? Please comment and let us know!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

neigh*borrow around the world (in 80 days)

Our friends and partners at neigh*borrow have a great new project - "Black and White and READ around the World".

The ideas is really great -"Around the world in 80 days" is on a Journey around the world, that started in New York City. The goal of the project is to send the book on a journey around the world using the technology and communities behind neigh*borrow and stickybits!

According to neigh*borrow,
this promotion aims to do more than illustrate the fantastic technologies and communities behind stickybits, neigh*borrow, and the other organizations helping to make this possible.

Read Around The World...

  • Will reinforce how the web and our online worlds can influence and enrich our offline connections and experiences.
  • Will show how something can be hyperlocal and genuinely global all at the same time.
  • Will help bring global awareness to important issues like re-using, recycling and literacy.

Check out the rules and how it works on their blog, check out the history and the current location of the book at stickybits and join the fun if you want to be part of this great project and help get the book around the world.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

What green book you should give your dad on Father's Day?

Father's Day is not too far away (June 20) and we are happy to continue a tradition we started with Mother's Day and provide you with some ideas for green books that can also be great gifts for 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.

So please check out the our list and we hope you find the right green book to your dad!

1. For t
he father who loves sushi

Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time

Does your father loves sushi? Is he concerned by topics such as mercury and PCB levels, overfishing, and species extinction? Even if he doesn't think about it too much, I'm sure he'll be happy to know more about sustainable consumption of sushi supply that will enable him and the next generations to continue and enjoy a nice sashimi or shiromaguro (aka white tuna).

Sustainable Sushi answers the question on the minds of millions who enjoy eating fish: how can we indulge the desire to dine well while keeping our health and the health of the oceans in mind? With painstaking research found in no other book on the market to date, this pocket-size guide profiles dozens of the most common fish and shellfish one might encounter at a sushi bar, details where and how they are caught, whether or not they are safe, and how they figure in the current fishery crisis.

2. For the father who dreams about urban farming

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

Does your dad secretly dream on growing vegetables and maybe some animal farms, or in other words, on becoming an urban farmer? If he does, this book, who was described by Michael Pollan as 'edgy, moving and hilarious' is the one for him.

An unforgettably charming memoir, Farm City is full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer's tips, and a great deal of heart. When Novella Carpenter-captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency- moved to inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage- strewn abandoned lot next door to her house, she closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes and a chicken coop. The story of how her urban farm grew from a few chickens to one populated with turkeys, geese, rabbits, ducks, and two three-hundred-pound pigs will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever considered leaving the city behind for a more natural lifestyle.

3. For t
he traveling father

Disappearing Destinations: 37 Places in Peril and What Can Be Done to Help Save Them

If your father likes to explore new places and cultures around the world, and only the thought about his next trip makes him happy, this is the right book for him.

Actually with this boo
k he better hurry up. This book is a beautiful and memorable look at some of the most gorgeous endangered places on the planet. Machu Picchu for example is a mesmerizing, ancient Incan city tucked away in the mountains of Peru, but it is rapidly being worn down by the thousands of feet treading across its stones. Glacier National Park is a destination long known for the stunning beauty of its ice floes, but in our lifetimes it will have no glaciers due to global warming.

These places - along with many others across the globe - are changing as we speak due to global warming
, environmental degradation, overuse, and natural causes. From the Boreal Forests in Finland to the Yangtze River Valley in China, this book is a treasure trove of geographic wonder, and a guide to these threatened destinations and what is being done to save them.

4. For the father who wants to take small steps to help planet earth

The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference

Does your father believe in the concept of small steps that make a difference? Does he want to apply it to changing his lifestyle and making it greener? That's where 'The Green Year' can help.

Most of us want to do the right thing for the environment, but making the commitment to change our fast-paced, convenience-oriented lifestyles can be more than a little daunting. What’s the answer? Take that giant commitment and cut it up into 365 little commitments that get met one day at a time. The Green Year does just that. More than a calendar, it offers simple, practical, affordable, and engaging activities that make going green a blessing rather than a burden.

5. For the father who believes in god

How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World

Is your father a man of faith? does he see Planet Earth as God's creation? if he does, and no matter what religion he is part of, he will be enjoying Michael Abbate's unique book.

Gardening Eden invites you to consider a new, spiritual perspective to practical environmentalism. The question is not whether our so
uls find expression and inspiration in our incredible planet, but how best to preserve that fundamental connection. Discover creation care as an act of worship and a call to deeper harmony with our Creator, our fellow gardeners, and our living Earth. Gardening Eden is the primer in how this shift will transform not only our world, but your very soul.

6. For the biz type father

Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto

Is your father interested in business issues? Is he interested in how sustainability and business go together? Maybe he thinks green business is the right way to go but doesn't know exactly why? If you answer Yes to one of these questions, then this book, one of the most important books written so far about the integration of business and sustainability, is for him.

This book is the definitive work on business strategy for sustainability by the most authoritative voice in the conversation. Leave your quaint notions of corporate social responsibility and environmentalism behind. Werbach is starting a whole new dialogue around sustainability of enterprise and life as we know it in organizations and individuals. Sustainability is now a true competitive strategic advantage, and building it into the core of your business is the only means to ensure that your company - and your world - will survive.

7. For the father who likes to be clean

Clean Body: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself

If your father likes to spend a lot of time in the bathroom and he even knows the name of the shampoo and soap he uses, not to mention using facial cream, this book can be a great fit for him.

Clean Body, written
by cleaning guru Michael DeJong, is not merely about washing away the dirt: it embodies a mindset, a philosophy, an alternative to mass consumerism. DeJong draws from Eastern belief systems—especially the element theory in Chinese medicine and Asian cooking—and harmoniously balances five pure essentials in his recipes, using baking soda, lemon, olive oil, salt, and white vinegar as the basis for his all-natural concoctions. Including special, separate sections for men and women, Clean Body has ideas for everything from facial exfoliants and natural aftershave to moisturizers and creams for itchy skin, discolored knees, and smooth feet. EVERY part of the body, from head to toe, is covered.

8. For the father who is interested in the energy crisis

Who Turned Out the Lights?: Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis

Do you hear your father can't stop talking about BP or peak oil, clean coal, smart grid, safety of nuclear power, and other energy related issues? Is he worried? And maybe he just wants to know more about them. In any case, we've got the perfect book for him.

In Who Turned Out the Lights? authors Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson offer a much-needed reality check: The "Drill, Baby, Drill" versus "Every Day Is Earth Day" battle is not solving our problems, and the finger-pointing is just holding us up. Sorting through the political posturing and confusing techno-speak, they provide a fair-minded, "let's skip the jargon" explanation of the choices we face. In the end, the authors present options from the right, left, and center but take just one position: The country must change the way it gets and uses energy, and the first step is to understand the choices.

9. For the father who drinks only bottled water

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It

Did you father forget the taste of tap water? do you see him all the time with a bottle of water in his hands? well, maybe it's time for revealing the world behind these bottles, and no book is better for that matter like Bottlemania of
Elizabeth Royte.

In Bottlemania, Elizabeth Royte ventures to Fryeburg, Maine, to look deep into the source—of Poland Spring water. In this tiny town, and in others like it across the country, she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that have made bottled water a $60-billion-a-year phenomenon even as it threatens local control of a natural resource and litters the landscape with plastic waste. Moving beyond the environmental consequences of making, filling, transporting and landfilling those billions of bottles, Royte examines the state of tap water today (you may be surprised), and the social impact of water-hungry multinationals sinking ever more pumps into tiny rural towns.

10. For the father who wants zero impact

No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process

Does your father really want to go all the way and be good to planet earth? If he's looking to minimize his footprint and get it as close to zero as possible, but not sure how you actually do it in a modern and unsustainable world, here's a book about someone who did it in no other place than New York City and gained many important lessons on the way.

What would it be like to try to live a no-impact lifestyle? Is it possible? Could it catch on? Is living this way more satisfying or less satisfying? Harder or easier? Is it worthwhile or senseless? Are we all doomed or can our culture reduce the barriers to sustainable living so it becomes as easy as falling off a log? These are the questions at the heart of this whole mad endeavor, via which Colin Beavan hopes to explain to the rest of us how we can realistically live a more “eco-effective” and by turns more content life in an age of inconvenient truths.

If you choose to give your father a book as a gift, you are 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!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New report connects children's books to the destruction of forests in Indonesia

Forest destruction in Indonesian Borneo.
Photo:David Gilbert/RAN

Rainforest Network Action (RAN) published yesterday a new report with an alarming results. According to their report, significant part of America’s children’s books are contributing to the destruction of endangered rainforests in Indonesia.

The report, entitled
Turning the Page on Rainforest Destruction; Children’s Books and the Future of Indonesia’s Rainforests, found that nine of the top ten U.S. children’s publishers have released at least one children’s book that tested positive for paper fiber linked to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, including some books that describe the benefits of rainforest conservation.

RAN tested 30 children's books that are published by the top 10 U.S. children's books publishers (3 books of each publisher) for fiber associated with deforestation in Indonesia and found that 18 of the 30 books (60%) contained controversial fiber.

What was common to all of these books that they're all printed in China. RAN explains on their report the connection between printing children's books in China and the destruction of forests in Indonesia:

With the rapid growth of book printing and manufacturing being outsourced to China, the U.S. book industry has become increasingly vulnerable to controversial paper sources entering its supply chain. China is the top importer of Indonesian pulp and paper and much of the Chinese paper industry is linked to or controlled by highly controversial Indonesian pulp and paper suppliers, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL), which together account for 80 percent of Indonesia’s production. From 2000-2008, Chinese sales of children’s picture books to the U.S. ballooned by more than 290 percent, averaging an increase of more than 35 percent per year.

The report is making a point that 5 out of the tested publishers have public environmental and paper procurement policies that pledge to reduce the companies’ impact on the climate, protect endangered forests, increase the use of recycled and FSC certified fiber and maximize resource efficiency. However, despite these important policy commitments, wood fiber from Indonesia is ending up in children’s books. Moreover, the report found that publishers with paper policies and climate commitments had a similar percentage of books containing controversial fiber to publishers without policies.

The report checks a small sample, and the majority of children's books might show better results, but with the growing printing in China, these results are definitely alarming and should be a wake-up call for the industry.

So what can be done to stop it? I believe that it is up to the readers and the publishers. If readers (in this case, both parents and kids) will start demanding from publishers to make sure that their books are 100% Indonesian and endangered forest destruction free it will provide publishers with a great incentive to take care of it. The publishers, on their side, should demand from their Chinese printers to stop using paper supplied by companies like Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) to print their books, as long as these companies do not change their current practices.

In the meantime RAN (and so do we) ask you to sign a petition they have on their website ( that has a simple yet powerful message: I Love Books and Rainforests. Let's make sure these two won't come one at the expense of the other!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Green printing tip no. 46: Saving money on eco-friendly printing

We are back today with a new tip on our weekly series of green printing tips, where we bring you information on green printing in collaboration with Greg Barber, an experienced eco-friendly printer.

Today Greg is talking about one of the most important issues when it comes to green printing - how you can actually save money by adopting eco-friendly practices.

Saving money on eco-friendly printing

Tip #46

I encourage my clients to analyze three items before deciding which way to proceed on their next environmental print project. I say environmental print job, as most of my clients want 100% post-consumer waste paper, processed 100% chlorine free, or at least 30% PCW paper.

Here are the three questions.

Firstly: Is the project a digital or offset print job, by quantity?

My rule of thumb, is to see if your printing can fit on 500 sheets of 13 x 20 paper. If it can, you are probably going to save money on 4 color print jobs printing digitally.

You can fit (9) 4.25 x 6 postcards on a 13 x 20 sheet size and yield 4500 postcards.

You can fit 1000 8.5 x 11 fliers on 500 sheets of 13 x 20 and you get 10,000 business cards, at (20) up on 13 x 20.

Secondly: Can you use a white sheet that is approximately the brightness of a typical xerox paper (90) brightness, or do you need 96 brightness, like a typical laser paper?

If the whiteness or brightness is not crucial, you may save 30% on your final print bill. We offer 89 brightness at $1.00 per pound less than our 96 brightness. If you needed 500 pounds of paper, that is a paper savings of $500 plus the printers mark up.

Thirdly: Let the printer advise you if a slight size change can save you significant money.

The best example of this is postcards. If you want 5 x 7 postcards, you will get (4) cards per 13 x 20 paper size. If you switch to the normal postcard size of 4.25 x 6, your yield is (9) postcards per sheet. More than double the cards if you changed to the smaller size. That might save you 50% on the printing.

For additional information, please visit and You're also invited to contact Greg via email at

You can find links to all the tips at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is there a future for Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores? Is it a green one?

Can bookstores succeed in the digital age of eBooks and growing online purchases? And what will they sell exactly? will it be mainly books just like today? These questions are no longer asked just about independent small bookstores, but also about big book chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Today on our third part of our series on the future of the book industry (see part 1 and part 2), we discuss the future of book chains and explain why taking the "green" path is their best shot for success.

The last couple of weeks were full of interesting news in both chains. In March, in what the Wall Street Journal described as the most dramatic management change since it went public in 1993, B&N named 39-year-old William Lynch, a newcomer
with Silicon Valley roots, as chief executive. And last week Borders announced that Bennett LeBow, chairman of tobacco holding company Vector Group, is buying a 15.5% stake in the book seller for $25 million (He could later increase his stake to 35%).

These moves were the latest indication of the pressures both B&N and Borders are dealing with and their attempt to meet these challenges. Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble's 69-year-old chairman and largest shareholder explained it very simply - "The store model is under pressure, whichever way you look at it." And he's right of course, just look at the figures.

According to Bowker PubTrack, Chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders account for about 27% of the market, where online purchases account for 20%. These figures show a shrinking market share for the big book chains and you can see it also on their sales figures - Borders saw same-store sales decline 14% at its superstores for the quarter ended Jan. 30. And B&N reported on February 2010 that "store sales decreased 4.7% to $1.4 billion, with comparable store sales decreasing 5.5% for the quarter" and estimated that "for the fiscal 2010 fourth quarter ending May 1, 2010, comparable store sales at Barnes & Noble stores are expected to decline 2% to 4%."

The future brings with it further challenges - The Wall Street Journal quotes Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of the Idea Logical Co., publishing consultants, who predicts that "by the end of 2012, digital books will be 20% to 25% of unit sales, and that's on the conservative side. Add in another 25% of units sold online, and roughly half of all unit sales will be on the Internet."

Now, this might a problem if you own one or two bookstores, but it is a MAJOR problem if you operate
723 bookstores like B&N (not including Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Barnes & Noble, that operates 639 college bookstores) or 511 bookstores like Borders (not including 175 mall-based and other small format bookstores, including stores operated under the Waldenbooks, Borders Express, and Borders Outlet names).

Not that B&N and Borders don't try harder on the online front - both either launched (Nook) or will launch soon (Kobo) their electronic book readers and put a lot of effort to improve their online presence. But still the bottom line is very simple - the majority of their revenues are generated from bricks-and-mortar bookstores.

So what should B&N and Borders (and other book chains of course) do with these stores? Are these over 2,000 bookstores continue to be assets or they begin to look like a huge liability? Is it a risk or an opportunity in the digital age, where we have companies such as Netflix or Amazon that are a huge success without even a single brick and mortar store?

Let's look at some of the ideas that are currently on the table:

a variety of merchandise, other than books - Mr. Riggio tells the WSJ that "I would say that there's nothing we wouldn't put under consideration, although it's safe to say we won't have pots and pans."

Makes sense, But can B&N (and Borders that has similar ideas) can really compete with Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, Costco and other retailers? I can see why someone who is already shopping at Wal-Mart will buy a book there, but what will bring customers to buy a DVD or a laptop at B&N stores? will it be the price? the brand name of B&N? and will the B&N brand be enough to get them there?

Support eReader and online sales - At B&N, as the WSJ reports, "customers can test the Nook and get free original in-store content...Other in-store perks include free Wi-Fi service and free cafe offers."

But how many Nook readers will actually get to the stores because of these incentives? and what actual sales they'll make in the stores that they wouldn't have made at home otherwise? and what about 80%-90% of e-book readers that use other devices and can't download BN eReader software? Why should they find these offers attractive at all?

"People love holding books. They want their kids to go to bookstores. Their kids want their parents to take them to bookstores." (Leonard Riggio, B&N)

But even if it's true, can you base your business on it? Will people buy themselves books when they go with their kids to B&N or to Borders, and frankly will it be enough to get them there inf the first place? You can hold books in a local public library for example and I can assure you kids can have much more fun there.

"Some in the industry say bookstores may serve an even more prominent role as a forum for authors and a showroom for readers seeking to discover what's new. Bookstores are still the best places to go for divergent ideas," says James Patterson, the best-selling author. "With fewer newspapers providing reviews, where will people go to find out about new books? Barnes & Noble will do that and give you more assistance with e-books. They have a future."" (WSJ article)

Nice ideas, But can they generate revenues? Especially when there is a growing number of online resources for readers seeking to discover what's new, not to mention the growing number of authors that find that it's cheaper and sometimes more effective to have their book tours online.

OK, so it's very easy to say what's wrong, but what's right? what changes in the business model can actually work when it comes to brick and mortar bookstores?

Well, we believe that change is necessary. The current model won't survive more than 5 or 10 years at most. We also believe that the best shot for book chains is to implement a "green" strategy that will reinvent them as more relevant, more competitive and more successful. Here are eight ideas to start with:

1. Redefine your goals - Indigo in Canada
aims to transform into a "cultural department stores" and the new B&N CEO describes Barnes & Noble as "as much a technology company as we are a retail company", but is it enough to succeed in the long-run? How about setting what Adam Werbach called 'North Star goals' - "ambitious objectives that a company aspires to that may be very difficult or impossible to achieve and are aimed at solving a major global human challenge" (Triple Pundit). According to Werbach, a North Star goal should be optimistic and aspirational, can be achieved in 5-15 years, every employee can personally act on it, it connects to the core of your business and drives excitement and passion in your organization.

2. Plan and be prepared for change - somehow it looks like both Borders and B&N were caught by surprise by the digital revolution and its implications, although all the signs were there at least for the last 5-10 years. And the change can be described in one word: Sustainability. And both book chains should quickly adapt to this new reality, to the changes in business environment, customers behavior, resources and competition. And no, you don't need to ask Al Gore if it's true, you better ask your colleagues at Wal-Mart, Clorox, GE and Coca Cola and hear what they have to say about it.

Become part of the Gconomy - This concept was developed by Ron Gonen of RecycleBank, who describes it as follows: "The Gconomy is correcting a flaw in the development of modern economies...Towards the end of the 20th century, we discovered that the current processes and costs of producing and transporting these products and services were bankrupting the environment that sustains us. At RecycleBank, we are defining and building the 21st century Gconomy. It is a place where communities, companies and individuals are financially rewarded for positive green actions that create economic efficiencies."

4. Become the Mecca of "green" items -
If you want to sell nonbook items and you don't plan to use a cost leadership strategy, then don't just sell a variety merchandise like other retailers - differentiate yourself by focusing on "green" items.

5. Extend your strengths into green innovation territories - if B&N (and maybe Borders as well) is becoming "as much a technology company as we are a retail company", how about becoming an incubator of "green" tech start-ups? It definitely got the space and the infrastructure and probably even the money to invest in such companies. Like with Betaworks in New York, or Y Combinator in the Silicon Valley, these incubators can become hubs of innovation that can contribute to B&N in many ways, not to mention the opportunity to generate return on investment.

6. Strengthen your connection with local communities - I'm not among those who think bookstores should become community centers, but I do think that they can provide important services for local communities that not only will strengthen their connection with the communities, but will also develop new sources of income. One example is involvement with local food networks and helping to improve the distribution of local food. It can start with hosting local farmers markets in their parking lots, becoming collection points for CSA programs, selling items on the stores from local farms, renting space on regular basis for local food vendors, transforming the coffee shops to local ingredients only places, etc .

7. Become a center of "green" knowledge - here's another idea for effective and valuable use of the space in bookstores: take one floor in one store in every city and use it to provide "green" education and training programs in topics such as alternative fuel systems, sustainable design, green buildings, clean energy technologies and so on. The fact that the chains have stores all over the country can help them become a leader in "green" education, providing local residents with required knowledge and skills and generating further income.

Reduce the number of brick and mortar bookstores - It's inevitable. The current number of stores is based on an old and now irrelevant strategy. Although a new sustainable strategy will support many of the stores, it won't support them all. Less stores mean both a lighter footprint and reduced costs.

On the next post we'll discuss the green future of independent bookstores. More articles on the future of bookstores can be found at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Green book of the week - Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World

Today we review a green book that is about traveling around the world with just one rule in mind: no airplanes please!

Our book is:

Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World

Author: Seth Stevenson

Seth is a contributing writer for Slate. His work has also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, New York, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and other publications. He's received multiple Lowell Thomas awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, been excerpted three times in the Best American Travel Writing series, and won the 2005 Online Journalism Award for commentary. He graduated from Brown University and live in Washington, D.C.

Publisher: Riverhead Trade

Published on: April 2010

What this book is about? (from the publisher's page)
An eye-opening and fascinating journey from an acclaimed travel writer who circled the globe without ever leaving the ground.

In this age of globalism and high-speed travel, Seth Stevenson, the witty, thoughtful Slate travel columnist, takes us back to a time when travel meant putting one foot in front of the other, racing to make connections between trains and buses in remote transit stations, and wading through the chaos that most long-haul travelers float 35,000 feet above. Stevenson winds his way around the world by biking, walking, hiking, riding in rickshaws, freight ships, cruise ships, ancient ferries, buses, and the Trans-Siberian Railway-but never gets on an airplane.

He finds that from the ground, one sees the world anew-with a deeper understanding of time, distance, and the vastness of the earth. In this sensational travelogue, each step of the journey is an adventure, full of unexpected revelations in every new port, at every bend in the railroad tracks, and around every street corner.

What we think about it?
This book is like the opposite of the movie "Up in the Air". If George Clooney's character adores airplanes and airport, Seth Stevenson just hate them, or in his own words: "We despise airplanes and all they stand for." Now, I don't have such strong feelings against airplanes, but if I have to choose between Seth and George Clooney, then I'm with Seth!

Now, when I finished reading the book, I thought that 'It's not about the destination, it's about the journey' might be a good beginning to describe my thoughts about this book, but as more as I thought about it, it occurred to me that this book is actually both about the journey and the destination.

True, Seth and his girlfriend Rebecca are moving quite fast from one place to another in their way to circumnavigate the world. They don't spend too much time in each of the interesting places they visit on the way, which can be understandable if you use any possible means of transportation other than airplane and don't have couple of years to dedicate for the challenge you took on yourself.

So why it's also about the destination? because as Seth explains in the book and I totally agree with him - when you travel by airplane, you might get somewhere but "your soul never completely leaves home". Our ability to fully enjoy new, as well as familiar destinations, when we're "teleporting from airport to airport" is clearly limited. So when we travel somewhere by a train or a bus, not only that we have the ability to enjoy the journey, our experience once we get to the destination is much more enriched.

For me, Seth and Rebecca's travelogue is not about nostalgia to the days where most people traveled by trains, ships or buses, but an offer to alternative travel, a more sustainable and fulfilling one. You reduce your carbon footprint and at the same time increase the number of adventures as well as the level of intimacy you'll reach with people, cultures and places.

Somehow I got here philosophical when all I actually wanted to say that this is a great book. I love to travel and I had my share with 40-hour bus travel in Brazil, ramshackle buses in Guatemala, night drives in a small jeep in India, road trip in Australia and so on, so I immediately got into the travel mood of the book and followed with pleasure every bit of their long journey.

Last but not least, once I finished this book I knew I'll have to go to the library and get my hands on "Around the World in Eighty Days" by Jules Verne, which is an inspiration for Seth, who keeps getting back to this book especially in times of difficulties, and a great book in general.

Bottom Line: A great book to read before, during and after you travel, even on an airplane, although it goes much better with a nice and long ride on a train or a bus!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Don't miss the only green panel on BookExpo America next week

BookExpo America (BEA) is taking place next week in New York (May 25-27). This year I won't be able to attend BEA, but I would like to invite everyone else who is going to be there to go to the the event - "New Green Certification Program and on-Product Logo for Publishers Unveiled."

This is actually the only "green" panel that the BEA will have this year (just like last year I wonder why they don't have more green related events), and it present the green certification program and eco label by leading members of the Book Industry Environmental Council (BIEC), where Eco-Libris is also serving as a member.

Here's more information about the panel from the BEA's website:

Panelists will cover the benefits of the certification and eco label including: Most rigorous system out there and developed by industry collective through the Book Industry Environmental Council; Green Publisher certification that verifies environmental performance across 22 areas; Addresses recycled and certified fiber use, Endangered Forest impact, reducing carbon footprint and much more; National standard that retailers, librarians, readers and others will be able to understand and support; Will enable environmental leaders to differentiate themselves.

Moderator: Tyson Miller, Director, Green Press Initiative

Panelists: Pete Datos, VP Inventory & Procurement, Hachette Book Group and Lisa Serra, Director Corporate Paper Procurement

The panel will take place on Thursday, May 27, 2010, 11:00AM - 12:00PM at room 1E02.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Is sleeping naked green? Here's a good way to find out:

We're happy to update you that
we're adding another great green book to our green gift giveaway:

Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days

You can get a free copy of Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson when you balance out 50 books by planting 50 trees with Eco-Libris. And this is not the only book we offer as a free gift - we have some other great books you can choose from: Clean Body, Greening Your Small Business, Raw for Dessert, The Lazy Environmentalist and Sustainable Sushi.

All of these books are printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper and readers can choose from this list the book they would like to receive as a gift from us.

So what Sleeping Naked is Green is about? (from the B&N's webpage of the book):

No one likes listening to smug hippies bragging about how they don't use toilet paper, or worse yet, lecturing about the evils of plastic bags and SUVs. But most of us do want to lessen our ecological footprint. With this in mind, Farquharson takes on the intense personal challenge of making one green change to her lifestyle every single day for a year to ultimately figure out what's doable and what's too hardcore.

Vanessa goes to the extremes of selling her car, unplugging the fridge, and washing her hair with vinegar, but she also does easy things like switching to an all-natural lip balm. All the while, she is forced to reflect on what it truly means to be green.

Whether confronting her environmental hypocrisy or figuring out the best place in her living room for a compost bin full of worms and rotting cabbage, Vanessa writes about her foray into the green world with self-deprecating, humorous, and accessible insight. This isn't a how-to book of tips, it's not about being eco-chic; it's an honest look at what happens when an average girl throws herself into the murkiest depths of the green movement.

You can read more about it on things mean a lot's review of this book, which was part of our green books campaign.

You are also welcome to check out Vanessa's blog, Green as a Thistle, this video, where Vanessa Farquharson talks about her book:

More details about our green gift giveaway and the other gifts we give to readers who balance out 25 books or more (gift cards for Strand Bookstore and BookSwim!) can be found on the campaign's page at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Can book publishers build an effective green brand?

Last week we started a new series that is exploring why and how the book industry should go green. The first part focused on WHY and discussed the main drivers to go green outside of just being nice to planet earth. Today, we talk about HOW and more specifically on building a green brand.

For a long time I'm occupied with the question 'Can book publishers build an effective green brand?'. I mean we have green brands on almost every market possible, but books have a very unique nature that differentiate them from most of the products we regular consume.

To better understand it, let's have a look at the factors that influence people's buying decisions when they purchase books. Zogby International did a research for Random House in 2008 on 'The Reading and Book Buying Habits of Americans'. One of their questions was 'What was the most important factor in your most recent book purchase?' and the results were:

Subject 43%

Author 29%

Good recommendation/word of mouth 11%

Reading a few pages 5%

Title 4%

Price 3%

Jacket design 1%

Other (record) 2%
Not sure 3%

As you can see from these results, there's no mention of the publisher and mostly it's about the subject or the author of the book. So given these circumstances, can publishers really build an effective green brand?

I decided to ask the best experts on green branding and marketing and learn what they think about it - is this a mission impossible or a challenge that can be met?

"Yes, you can apply green marketing/strategy thinking/rules to books", told me John Grant
, author of "Co-opportunity" and "The Green Marketing Manifesto" and one of the green gurus interviewed on "Conversations with Green Gurus". The key principles of green marketing would apply here as well, he added - be innovate and then educate, i.e. bring the market with you. And don't greenwash!

According to John, this is actually an opportunity for brands to show cultural leadership. You have to remember that with the exception of Penguin and a few others, there are few strong publisher brands, so here's an opportunity to challenge that - be more of an Apple or Dell in a world of faceless clone PCs.

John also referred to new product and service opportunities that can create together with a green brand new revenue sources. There are numerous new markets waiting to be tapped, he explained - new paperless formats, pricing models, second lives for books - sharing/passing on, printing on demand/on location, custom books, and new recycling, reuse and upcycling models - e.g. different materials than paper.

Joel Makower, Executive Editor at, and author of "Strategies for the Green Economy" also thought creating a green branding is doable, but emphasized that not every green step is necessarily useful.

"I don't believe that a publisher can build a green brand based entirely on the physical nature of the product. Recycled paper, planting trees, using green printing techniques, creating e-books, and offsetting shipping impacts have become commonplace, table stakes even, and aren't much of a differentiator. (And much of this is invisible to the reader; you can no longer judge a book by its cover,)" he told me.

Joel added that "to build a green brand would require a publisher to develop a deep strength in environmentally minded editorial content, or perhaps create an innovative business model that encouraged sharing/reuse of books, or some other disruptive innovation."

Jacqueline Ottman, Founder and President of J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. and author of "Green Marketing: Opportunity for Innovation" and the upcoming "The
New Rules of Green Marketing (Fall 2010) reminded me that we shouldn't forget one of the main trends in the industry - the shift from print to digital. "I think publishers can put forth a green brand, but they need to consider with the electronic looking like it may soon be take over the printed word, all publishers will need to be sustainability in order to ensure their own, well, sustainability," she told me.

Peter Korchnak, Founder and Principal of Semiosis Communications and a sustainable marketer, blogger and speaker, thought it's a challenge that can be met. "Absolutely, book publishers can create sustainable brands," he replied. "Sustainable publishers must find ways to reduce their products' environmental footprint. Using recycled paper or low-VOC inks is the low hanging fruit," he added.

But this is only the beginning - Peter believes that to build truly sustainable brands, publishers must change their entire business model, away from printing a run and then trying to sell it, with unsold product recycled back into pulp. Models like print on demand (only a book that gets purchased gets printed), audio (voice) or electronic distribution could be considered as the next step. Subscription models similar to the way some music is distributed may also be viable (although, libraries already do that, don't they). And exploration of and experimentation with other novel business models should also be on the table.

Book publishers can build sustainable brands, he concluded, just like with any other sustainable brands, however, adaptation and especially innovation must be a part of that process.

It's not just the book itself told me Orly Zeewy, a brand identity specialist and communications strategist. "A book is not inherently a “green product” but can become one. A book can be packaged in a 100% post consumer (molded pulp) carton, shipped with biodegradable packaging peanuts made from cornstarch and printed on acid free pages with paper harvested from FSC (The Forest Stewardship Council) approved forests."

In addition to the books themselves, she added, publishers can look at their organization’s practices around diversity and fair wages and set strict guidelines for their supply chain. Publishers can get tough on issues such as child labor and fair trade and publicize their efforts to produce their products in the fairest way possible through a yearly Corporate Sustainability Report (CSR).

In all, Orly, just like the other experts, believes it is possible (and should be expected according to her) for book publishers to build a green brand. But, she said, they need to look beyond producing a “green” product and look at how their products can be produced in a more sustainable way.

So it looks like there's a consensus among all the experts we talked with - creating a green brand by book publishers is possible. It's not easy and there are challenges in finding the best ways to do it effectively, but at the same time it also means creating new business opportunities - developing new products, models and markets that will translate into new revenue sources.

It will be interesting to see which one of the big publishers (we already know some smaller ones like Chelsea Green or Green Books that are known as green publishers) will be the first to go for it. In times of change in the book publishing industry, and based on what we've heard here, creating a green brand looks like a promising way to ensure a long-term sustainable success.

On the next post we'll discuss what part green can take in the future of bookstores.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!