Thursday, September 30, 2010

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) - good or bad? ITS is saying APP is good and actually Greenpeace is bad!

We had an interesting discussion going on here on the paper company APP and its operations in Indonesia.

We interviewed Ian Lifshitz, APP's Sustainability & Public Outreach Manager at Asia Pulp & Paper. Ian presented in the interview APP's point of view regarding the company's activities and the accusations against it. One of the issues discussed in the interview was a Greenpeace report "How Sinar Mas is pulping the planet", where Greenpeace claimed that APP "is destroying Indonesia’s rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands."

Afterwards we interviewed Rolf Skar, Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace, who responded to the interview with Ian and presented Greenpeace's position in this case.

Now, we have a third party that is getting involved in this debate, defending APP and accusing Greenpeace in making false accusations against APP. This is International Trade Strategies Pty Ltd, trading as ITS Global Asia Pacific (ITS Global), which consults on dynamic international issues. According to their press release, ITS Global focuses on four core areas: international trade, environmental policy, development aid and strategy and communication. ITS skills are research, policy analysis and corporate affairs and communications strategies.

ITS is claiming to present a peer-reviewed audit. According to the press release, "the audit systematically analyzed 72 Greenpeace claims against APP that included more than 300 footnotes and approximately 100 references. The evidence shows that Greenpeace provided quotes that don’t exist; maps that show concessions that don’t exist; and used source material with high margins of error that was cited as absolute fact, said Alan Oxley, chief executive office of the Melbourne-based ITS Global."

The press release adds that "ITS Global commissioned two independent academic experts, one in forestry and economics and the other in agricultural science, to review Greenpeace’s claims. The audit shows that both describe the Greenpeace report as “highly misleading." No names attached.

You can see Alan Oxley, Managing Director of ITS and the Chairman of the Australian APEC Study Centre and Founder of WorldGrowth presenting ITS' audit in this video:

The audit itself is available here:

So what do you think? Is this audit the crucial proof APP was looking for to show that they're right and Greenpeace is wrong? I don't know..One thing I do know is that this is not the final word in this debate. We'll try to have Rolf's response to this audit and see what Greenpeace has to say about these allegations against its report.


1. Check out what Rehtt Buttler at has to say about this audit ("
Asia Pulp & Paper hires its PR firm to do a hit job on Greenpeace but comes up short"). Thanks to Peter Nowack (@printleadership) for the reference to this excellent article!

2. Here's Greenpeace's response to the audit -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Want some candies? Go to Strand!

If you needed another reason to go to Strand Bookstore, which is taking part in our bookstores program, we've got it for you and it's as sweet as it can get!

The New York Daily News reported yesterday (and thanks to GalleyCat for the link) that "customers are abuzz over a newly built Candyland on the shelves beneath the 40-foot-long checkout counter at the Union Square used-book mecca."

Customers, according to the article, can find there Old-fashioned sweets like $2.95 boxes of Gobstoppers, $1.95 chewable wax lips and three-for-35-cents Pixy Stix.

The reason is very simple - another way to generate income, especially from those who just browse the books in the store, as Fred Bass, Strand co-owner
, explains on the article (he's the one standing on the photo above in front of the candy shelves).

Candies are of course just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to considering a visit in the store.
Located in 828 Broadway (at 12th St.), this New York's independent landmark bookstore is one of most famous bookstores in the world. As GalleyCat reminds us Strand "boasts an 18-mile collection's worth of new, used, rare, and out-of-print books. Some of the rare titles include a first-edition of Lewis Baltz's Park City, a signed first-edition of Hunter S. Thompson's Kingdom of Fear, and a signed complete set of the Writings of Mark Twain: Definitive Edition. The last collector's item will set a buyer back $5,500."

And of course customers at Strand can plant a tree for every book they buy there and receive our sticker at the counter!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Green book of the week: Farmer Jane by Temra Costa (including an interview with the author)

If you were surprised by the fact that Michelle Obama took last Friday the spouses of 32 world leaders on a trip to the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York, then you really shouldn't. Sustainable and local food is becoming an increasingly significant topic and the First Lady is one of its leading supporters.

And she is not the only woman involved in this growing industry. A growing number of women is dominating the field and 30 of them are profiled in the new book of Temra Costa, Farmer Jane, which is our green book of the week.

Here are some more details about this book:

Title: Farmer Jane: Women Changing The Way We Eat

What the book is about:
Farmer Jane profiles thirty women in the sustainable food industry, describing their agriculture and business models and illustrating the amazing changes they are making in how we connect with food. These advocates for creating a more holistic and nurturing food and agriculture system also answer questions on starting a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, how to get involved in policy at local and national levels, and how to address the different types of renewable energy and finance them.

Author: Temra Costa
Temra Costa is a nationally recognized sustainable food and farming advocate. She has written for numerous publications on hot-button issues such as Farm to School, eating locally, food safety, and how to create regional food systems. Her previous role as statewide director of California’s Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign, and other positions held with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), worked to engage stakeholders in our food system, from farm to fridge.

Temra works, cooks, gardens and writes in the East Bay of California. She's a radio show co-host on Green 960 (, works as a sustainable food systems consultant for various businesses, and speaks at events throughout the year.

This is a very interesting book on an extremely interesting issue and I really enjoyed reading these personal stories, so I decided to ask the author for an interview to learn more about it.

Hello, Temra. What was the reason you decided to write this book, focusing on women in the sustainable food world?

The timing was right! As women are taking more leadership roles in the food and farming sector as well as the business world in general.

How did you choose the women that you profile in the book?

I chose the women in Farmer Jane by sending out a call for nominations. I received responses from all over the country. It was really amazing.

From the 30 women you profile on your book, what story you felt mostly connected to on a personal level?

Almost all of the women talk about heart and community. Language that we're starting to hear more about - at least the community part.

You write in the introduction to the book that women "have long been underrepresented in the public sphere about the sheer amount of work they do, at home and outside of the home" - do you believe this is still the case when we have such prominent women figures leading what you describe as the "delicious revolution", from Michelle Obama and Alice Waters to Anna Lappe and Judy Wicks?

Women are still making less than men and will continue to be under acknowledged as long as the work that they do in the home, with family and with community is not valued.

Did you learn anything that surprised you while working on the book with regards to the role of women in the sustainable food industry?

Yeah, there are a lot of women ranchers out there! Second to women entering farming and food businesses because of the interest in local foods is women cattle ranchers that are succeeding their husbands. It's hard to imagine running a ranch without your partner but so many women are!

Why do you think we see so many women involved with urban farming?

It's small scale, serves and builds community, can be done in spare time, accesses volunteerism and has an immediate purpose.

Do you think that we'll continue to see so many women in key roles if and when the sustainable food industry will shift from a movement to an industry that is more focused on its business side?

This is a great question. I hope they are hired in the droves to do what they love and to make economic sense of it. Ultimately, it is our economic system that undervalues food and food producers. This needs to change so that people can make a right livelihood without "going corporate."

The sustainable food industry is still relatively small in size - do you believe we'll see it going mainstream in the near future?

Not as long as our FDA and USDA is being primarily run by the food companies that we need them to protect us from. Seriously, sustainable food, diversified foods, handmade foods are counter capitalistic models because they are time intensive and more hands on way of producing food.

Restructuring the food system will happen out of necessity due to water shortages and distribution challenges that will start to make local food a environmental and economic choice for businesses. Right now it's still riding a local food washing phase where there is a shift happening, but not to the scale that those marketing it to people require.

What you're working on these days? Any new book in the horizon?

Definitely! I've really loved talking about this subject and in traveling around and celebrating women of food in various communities around the country. I've got a few Farmer Jane sequel ideas that I'm working on at the moment.

Thank you, Temra! To learn more about Farmer Jane visit

You're welcome to pick up Farmer Jane at your local, independently-owned bookstore. To find an independent store near you, click here.

In case you don't have an indie store close by, the book is also available on Amazon.

For wholesale orders, contact Gibbs Smith Publisher directly:

Yours, Raz @ Eco-Libris
Eco-Libris: Promoting   sustainable reading!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will Barnes and Noble end up like Blockbuster? Bloggers are connecting the dots between the two

It's official: Blockbuster filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier today. I mentioned Blockbuster few weeks ago with regards to Barnes & Noble as I thought B&N should learn couple of lessons from the failure of Blockbuster (as well as from Tower Records before it).

Of course many on this day connected the dots between the two and not in a positive way for B&N. Michael Wolf asked on GigaOm Tech News 'Will All Brick & Mortar Media Sink Like Blockbuster?' and wondered if this is a sign for other brick and mortar retailers:

But are Blockbuster’s troubles a sign that all large brick and mortar retailers of content — be it music, movies and yes, even books — are eventually doomed? If you look back, signs point to yes.

Although he was more optimistic about B&N ("Barnes & Noble appears to be trying to forge a digital strategy much faster "), his conclusion was still somewhat pessimistic:

Still, I expect Barnes & Noble to see significant challenges in coming years, particularly since Amazon will likely dominate e-book sales, at least in the near term. As with Blockbuster, the combination of a nimble digital rival and costly brick and mortar real-estate weighing down the actual product ties a retailer down. And we all know that what happens when you when you tie a brick to something: it sinks.

Green Street Advisors analyst Cedrik Lachance was also pessimistic. He told Reuters the following:

The future of retailers of books appears to be going the direction of DVDs, video retailers or the music industry. It appears that books will follow in that direction but it will be more slowly.

The connection between Blockbuster and B&N wasn't the only lit one made today. Apparently there are some who also see here lessons to be learned for the whole publishing industry. Mike Cane, in his post 'Blockbuster's Lesson for Print Publishing', wrote:

Hey, print publishing! Do you really think you’re providing everything people want to read in eBook format? Does Harry Potter ring a bell? What about those backlist titles Andrew Wylie moved into eBooks without waiting for any of you? What about all those backlist and even current titles that readers have scanned and uploaded and are distributing for free?

What do you think? will B&N end up like Blockbuster or B&N is a different case? And what should book publishers take from it? Is there really here a lesson for them? We'll be happy to hear your thoughts!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting sustainable reading!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The bus you don't want to take (no matter how much you love books..)

Last July we had a post with a list of five places where it's better to use a Kindle than a physical book.

This video got me thinking we need to have another list of places where it's better not to have neither:

As reported on GalleyCat earlier today, the Portland, OR driver was caught reading his Kindle while he is slowly driving through traffic. The video by the way was filmed by a passenger, which makes me wonders why the passenger thought he wanted to film this bus driver first and not ask him to get the Kindle out of his site right away.

Anyway, I'm quite sure Amazon won't use this video to show the Kindle is better than the iPad, although they can claim that even bus drivers find it more convenient to use.

Raz @ Eco-Libris
Eco-Libris: Promoting   sustainable reading!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Will the iPad succeed to conquer the campus?

I heard an interesting report last Friday on NPR's excellent program 'All Things Considered' disucssing a question that I'm sure is occupying many people in the e-readers industry:

Is the iPad a game changer in the market of electronic textbooks?

As the report explained and as we all know, e-readers makes a lot of sense when it comes to students: traditional textbooks are expensive and heavy. Textbooks are also very wasteful from an environmental point of view, as not only they consume a lot of paper, but they also become irrelevant pretty quickly when new editions are published.

The Kindle was the first e-reader that tried to conquer the campuses, but without much success.Last year
Treehugger reported on a failure of a pilot test at Princeton University in which 50 students were given a Kindle DX for three of their courses. The Daily Princeteonian explained why:

But though they acknowledged some benefits of the new technology, many students and faculty in the three courses said they found the Kindles disappointing and difficult to use. “I hate to sound like a Luddite, but this technology is a poor excuse of an academic tool,” said Aaron Horvath ’10, a student in Civil Society and Public Policy. “It’s clunky, slow and a real pain to operate.”

Horvath said that using the Kindle has required completely changing the way he completes his coursework. “Much of my learning comes from a physical interaction with the text: bookmarks, highlights, page-tearing, sticky notes and other marks representing the importance of certain passages — not to mention margin notes, where most of my paper ideas come from and interaction with the material occurs,” he explained. “All these things have been lost, and if not lost they’re too slow to keep up with my thinking, and the ‘features’ have been rendered useless.”

The NPR report also mentioned the fact that Reed College in Portland, which ran this year a trial with the iPad, did the same thing last year with the Kindle. The feedback on the Kindle was very similar to the one from Princeton:

..Montgomery-Amo says they're hoping to have better luck with the iPad than they had with the Kindle.

"That went … I think horribly would be a good way of putting it," he says. "The problem is that the Kindle is less interactive than a piece of paper in that the paper, you can quickly write notes in the margin or star something or highlight something, and the Kindle was so slow at highlighting and making notes that the students stopped reading them as scholarly texts and started reading them like novels."

The result, according to Montgomery-Amo, is that his students didn't understand the material as well as they did when using a traditional textbook. To make matters worse, he says the Kindle proved unable to keep up with the class discussion — it would take half a minute to load a page and by then, the discussion would have lost its momentum.

This is bad news for Amazon, but might be good news for Apple. But is it? What did the students think about the iPad? Well, according to NPR's report, they were much happier with it:

Senior Michael Crane and junior Rebecca Traber say that even though they've only had their iPads for a few weeks, they've already been pleasantly surprised.

"I thought it would just kind of be a fun toy," Crane says. "It still is a fun toy, but it also … makes it really easy to read articles for class. In fact, I read pretty much all my articles for all my classes on this now. The instant boot time I think is really nice because if I have half an hour somewhere, I don't have to set up my laptop to get my articles out."

"I actually found it startlingly easy to annotate," Traber says. "You just swipe your finger and you highlight."

The question remains whether these positive experiences will be eventually transformed into actually buying the iPad. Well, not so fast. The students interviewed for the report bring up several issues that will get them to think twice before buying one: the price of the iPad, it's easier to do many functions on laptop (even just writing) and the keyboard (as one student said - "I don't like the keyboard at all.").

There's no doubt that we're heading towards a digital age of e-textbooks. It's just a matter of time. The bottom line is that it's a win-win especially for students. The only question is which e-reader will learn to adjust itself to meet students' special needs - it looks like the iPad is much better positioned for that right now, but I'm sure Amazon haven't said the last word.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Friday, September 17, 2010

14-year old author Taylor Michie is going green with Eco-Libris!

We're very happy to announce our new collaboration with author Taylor Michie to green up his first book 'Racing Winds'.

Trees will be planted with Eco-Libris to balance out the printed copies of the book, starting with 50 trees that will be planted with our planting partner AIR in Guatemala. Also, starting next week, he will be offering Eco-Libris sticker (free of charge) saying “One tree planted for this book.” with every copy purchased!

This is a unique collaboration given that Taylor Michie is 14 years old and actually becomes the youngest author we have partnered with. But make no mistake - not only that Taylor has impressive accomplishments to his age, including this book, he also has a very impressive commitment to the environment, which is the reason he approached us in the first place.

So what's the book all about? Here are some more details:

Dave Rhodes is a weathered boat captain, with a ton of races and regattas under his belt. He is chosen to lead the Puma apparel-sponsored Volvo Ocean Race team. An easy task at first, Dave soon realizes that all his years of experience have not prepared him for what comes up in this race. Conspiracy is becoming a factor in this race, and it is now up to Dave and his race team to save the race (and win it for themselves!). Join us for this action-packed mystery written by then-13-year old Taylor Michie.

book size: 109 pages
formats available: paperback
awards won by book/author: book featured at Volvo Ocean Race in Boston, MA, May 2009; author won United States Sailing's Sailor of the Week award, May 2009;

For more information on Taylor Michie and his book visit

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) - good or bad? Rolf Skar of Greenpeace is replying to Ian Lifshitz

Last month we interviewed here Ian Lifshitz, Sustainability & Public Outreach Manager at Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world that has also long been a target of green groups for its logging practices.

Ian presented in the interview APP's point of view regarding the company's activities and the accusations against it. One of the issues discussed in the interview was a Greenpeace report "How Sinar Mas is pulping the planet", where Greenpeace claimed that APP "is destroying Indonesia’s rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands."

Following the interview, we got a request from Rolf Skar,
Senior Campaigner at Greenpeace, to respond to the interview and we happily agreed, as we want to use this blog as a platform to promote a better understanding of the issues discussed and hopefully contribute to the creation of solutions.

Hello Rolf. What were your thoughts after reading the
interview with Ian Lifshitz?

My first reaction was that the interview demonstrates just how out of touch APP remains. Our evidence, based on Ministry of Forestry data, satellite imagery analysis, aerial surveillance and on the ground documentation shows how APP continues to clear natural forests and peatlands. The evidence is simply overwhelming. This is a company that fails to meet even its own sustainability targets to stop using natural forest fiber for its products.

The apparent APP preference for rhetoric over substantive change has led every NGO that has tried to engage with the company to conclude that the company is not serious about sustainability. An example is when the auditing organization Rainforest Alliance broke off relations in 2008, concluding that “we do not wish to be used by APP again in order to mislead the public and the consumers.”

I was also not surprised to see Ian mention his role as a spokesperson to “educate North American audiences about the balanced approach developing countries…need to take between social and economic priorities.” I hope Ian will recognize that though Greenpeace campaigns have tremendous impact in North America and Europe, our campaign to protect Indonesian rainforests is guided and led by our Indonesian staff – people who know very well the complicated economic, social and environmental realities of their native land.

Ian Lifshitz described your report on APP's operations in Indonesia "unequivocally inaccurate and deliberately misleading" - what is your response?

I would like Ian to show evidence that Greenpeace is “unequivocally inaccurate.” His main claim seems to be about the expansion issue, for which the source of our evidences was an internal Sinar Mas Group presentation, by the APP pulpwood supplier Sinarmas Forestry. It was presented as an “area development project for supporting mill license capacity” in 2007. The project was sponsored by Aida Greenbury’s boss and head of APP, Teguh Ganda Widjaja, and his brother, head of Sinarmas Forestry, Muktar Widjaja.

I assume Ian was not party to this plan, and encourage him to take a look at the excerpts form this presentation included in our recent report, Empires of Destruction.

It appears like Ian is not the only one raising questions about your report. APP reported last month to its shareholders that the (yet unreleased) audit of the international accounting and auditing firm Mazars found that "the facts contained in the APP report were accurate and, therefore, the allegations made by the environmental NGOs were indeed baseless, inaccurate and without validity." - What's your reply to Mazars' findings?

The first thing to note is that the quote you referenced is from APP. It is their interpretation of the Mazars report, not what Mazars concluded. Given the liberties APP takes with the facts, this is an important distinction.

Second, it should be noted that Mazars essentially audited whether a specific APP report met generally accepted standards for CSR reporting – things like whether the claims were properly footnoted or referenced. Mazars made no attempt to assess the accuracy of our specific claims against APP.

Mazars is not in a position to audit APP mills or concession areas to make judgements about sustainability. This is not its area of expertise. Further, a number of the “key facts” they highlight are not referenced and therefore cannot be evaluated. APP’s attempt to use this audit to justify their activities will, frankly, not convince any stakeholder with even a basic understanding of sustainability.

Did you try in the past to communicate with APP?

Greenpeace has written to APP on a number of occasions and has typically received long, puzzling responses from Aida Greenbury, the APP sustainability and stakeholder engagement director. Instead of a meaningful response, we have consistently received rhetoric designed to justify their business as usual approach. It is difficult to engage with a company that refuses to acknowledge it has a problem.

Greenpeace activists unfurl a giant banner “APP-Stop destroying Tiger Forests” to expose ongoing forest destruction by pulp giant Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). The banner was deployed in an area of active clearing by PT. Tebo Multi Agro (TMA), an affiliate of APP, on the southern part of the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape. © Greenpeace / Ardiles Rante

What are the demands of Greenpeace from APP? What are the steps that Greenpeace would like APP to take to meet these demands?

To be clear, our campaign is about stopping deforestation, not opposing APP. Greenpeace is asking that APP pulpwood supplier, Sinar Mas Forestry, immediately halt further clearance of natural forest and peatland in Indonesia. We will continue to encourage responsible companies to stop all business with APP until the company takes this action.

A wide range of international companies including Nestlé, Kraft and Unilever, are in the process of implementing global sustainability policies that will exclude APP products unless it makes substantial improvement to its fiber supplies. Many others, like Kimberly-Clark, have never purchased from APP and have reaffirmed commitments to keep APP out of their supply chains.

Greenpeace is well known in its ability to transform activism and campaigns against companies into collaboration and joint work with these companies - is this the case here as well?

We have an informal motto that we have “no permanent friends and no permanent enemies.” This allows us to work with companies that are doing the right thing, regardless of histories. The fact that we do not accept corporate or government contributions allows us to stay independent, flexible and fair.

From the Canadian Boreal forest to the Amazon, Greenpeace has a long history of working collaboratively with companies we had previously butted heads with. We are open to this with APP as well, but we will need to see a genuine commitment to change that has to date not been evidenced.

APP will have to realize that business as usual is no longer an option for industry leaders. As long as to APP fails demonstrate basic criteria – like fulfilling its own sustainability commitments, or agreements reached with NGOs – it will be difficult to move forward. This is not just something Greenpeace has experienced. Back in 2008, the last major corporate who tried to engage with APP – office giant Staples – gave up, concluding that APP was a “great peril” to the their brand. I am not sure what it will take for APP to decide it is time to move forward. Until that day, Greenpeace campaigning will intensify pressure on the company and its customers.

If you would have sat with Ian to the same table - what would you like to tell him?

I don’t want to sound severe, but Ian is either being very badly misled by his employers, or is simply not interested, for any number of reasons, in sustainability. If it is the former, I would invite him, and senior management at APP, to come to the field with Greenpeace to see for themselves the reality of APP business practices. If it is the latter, I would most likely not have a productive conversation with him; we would continue talking past each other, and the status quo would continue. When APP is genuinely ready to talk, Greenpeace will be too.

I would like to thank Rolf for taking the time to reply my questions and I would also invite you all to add your comments, questions and any other feedback you have on this issue.

The interview with Ian Lifshitz is available at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What can change the way Amazon is dealing with environmental issues? Lessons from the Green Grades report and a NYT article

Last week Dogwood Alliance and ForestEthics published the 2010 Green Grades Office Supply Report Card. The goal of this report is to inform "American consumers and large purchasers of paper products on what companies are doing—or not doing—to safeguard the environment and the world’s forests."

This report is very important and reader-friendly and I warmly recommend to read it. But today we'll focus on just one of the companies presented in the report, which is a significant player in the book member. Yes, we're talking about

So how did on the report? See for yourself:

As you can see, Amazon got the lowest grade in the mass market retail sector. Just to give you a perspective - Amazon got the lowest grade not just in its category but in the whole report. What's behind these Amazon's grade?

The report explains in further details: does not have a meaningful paper policy or other basic safeguards and goals. Indeed, the company appears to have no problem with buying and selling paper from Endangered Forests and other controversial sources, including in the US South. Some subsidiaries are also using the SFI greenwash logo on their paper-based packaging, and has publicly expressed support for the SFI.

If you're wondering how Amazon did last year on the 2009 report - well, there are no big surprises - the company got an F. One change from last year, except of the slight better grade, is that last year it was reported that "The giant online retailer ignored our survey, so questions remain about their paper sourcing practices." This year there was no mention of such behavior, so I can only assume that Amazon did cooperate this year.

Amazon's grade doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who is watching Amazon's behavior when it comes to environmental issues, whether it's is paper policy or transparency regarding the Kindle's carbon footprint. In all, the company doesn't really care much about these issues.

So it got me wondering - what can possibly change the way is dealing with environmental issues? What can make Amazon care about it? And only couple of days passed by before I got a hint from a New York Times article.

The article (Packaging Is All the Rage, and Not in a Good Way) was about how Amazon is trying to get manufacturers to make packages easier to open, hoping to reduce consumer “wrap rage.” It was very interesting as I learned from the article that Amazon is trying to promote packaging solutions that have environmental benefits (for example, using less packaging materials). How come? Very simple - it wasn't about the environment at all.

There are two reasons Amazon was promoting alternative packaging solutions (frustration-free packaging options) to the products it sells. The first one is that they receive a lot of complains from customers on the current packaging, where "“you’ve got a ton of packaging and a ton of work ahead of you". Customers simple hate it and find it unjustified, so they write their complains to Amazon. And Amazon doesn't like customers that are not happy, even if it's not its fault as the manufacturers are the ones responsible for the products' packaging.

The second one is because “it’s such a win-win proposal,” as Nadia Shouraboura, vice president for global fulfillment at Amazon explained in the article. And again, he didn't refer to the environmental benefits - he referred to the facts that these packages that are more user-friendly (it's easier to open them) and actually cost less to the manufacturers.

So what do we have here? simply a combination of two elements - customers that care and aren't satisfied with the current way things are done and win-win solutions. Is it enough for Amazon to generate "green" solutions? The beauty here, as well as in other cases, that "green" is embedded in these solutions - you talk about saving materials or more efficient packaging and you're actually talking about green solutions, just without mentioning the word "green".

So the bottom line is that maybe we don't need to look on ideas how to make Jeff Bezos and other Amazon's executives more empathetic to environmental issues - it may take forever. Maybe the shorter and better way is to motivate Amazon's customers to act and voice their concerns and also come up with win-win solutions for Amazon. Then you might see suddenly how Amazon's executives start looking for alternatives with environmental added value. Otherwise don't be surprised if next year the company that will receive the lowest grade in the Green Grades report will be again no other than

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where you can meet Michele Norris and Robert Reich and plant trees for your new books?

In one word: Strand.

Located in
828 Broadway (at 12th St.), this New York's independent landmark bookstore is not only one of most famous bookstores in the world, but also a partner of Eco-Libris. Strand are taking part in our bookstore program and customers at the store can plant a tree for every book they buy there and receive our sticker at the counter!

And they also have a great list of events for the upcoming month, where you can meet some of the authors of the most interesting new books, such as Michele Norris of NPR, author of
The Grace of Silence: A Memoir and Prof. Robert E. Reich, secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and author of the new book Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future.

Here's information on more events at Strand this month:

Monday, September 13

Fantasy and reality collide as the book's principal characters-two lovers-meet, part and reunite, time and again, at different stages in life and in landscapes both familiar and exotic.

Frederic Tuten, who has received a Guggenheim fellowship and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Distinguished Writing, is the author of Tintin in the New World and The Green Hour, among other fiction.

Tuesday, September 14

James Ellroy returns to the Strand to discuss his new book, The Hilliker Curse-a predator's confession, a treatise on guilt and on the power of malediction, and above all, a cri de coeur. Ellroy unsparingly describes his shattered childhood, his delinquent teens, his writing life, his love affairs and marriages, his nervous breakdown and the beginning of a relationship with an extraordinary woman who may just be the long-sought Her.

Ellroy is the author of the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy, which includes American Tabloid, The Cold Six Thousand, and Blood's A Rover and the L.A. Quartet novels, The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, L.A. Confidential, and White Jazz.

Thursday, September 16

For children of all ages and their caregivers...
Jennifer Berne and illustrator Keith Bendis will read from their new book Calvin Can't Fly; The Story of a Bookworm Birdie.

Jennifer, a long-time contributor to Nick Jr. Magazine and award-winning author, and Keith, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Fortune and Time, as well as in nine books, will tell the story of Calvin, one unusual starling! While his siblings and cousins learn to fly, this rare bird lets his imagination soar while reading about pirates, dinosaurs and other fascinating things.
Family Hour Events occur every Thursday at 3:30PM in our 2nd Floor Children's Department. When we are not hosting an author, Strand Staff read from their favorite book and lead the children in a craft based on that day's reading. Email Christina if you would like to join the Family Hour Events email list.

Tuesday, September 21

Michele Norris, named "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists for her coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign, will discuss her memoir, The Grace of Silence. The Grace of Silence asks the difficult question, "how well do you know the people who raised you?" and answers it in a powerful, honest and deeply moving way that will serve as a model for us all to take up the question with our families, communities and country.

Michele Norris has served as a correspondent for ABC News, and has reported for the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times on education, poverty and numerous other social issues. She is a frequent guest on NBC's Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show. Her voice is heard by millions every weekday as co-host of NPR's All Things Considered.

Wednesday, September 22

Joshua Ferris The Unnamed

The Unnamed is a dazzling novel about a marriage and a family and the unseen forces of nature and desire that seem to threaten them both. It is the heartbreaking story of a life taken for granted and what happens when that life is abruptly and irrevocably taken away.

Ferris' first novel, Then We Came to the End, won the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a National Book Award finalist.

Thursday, September 23

In Aftershock, celebrated economic policy maker and political theorist Robert B. Reich argues that the reason the nation's economy foundered in 2008 is structural: it lies in the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top--and a middle class that had to go deeply into debt to maintain a decent standard of living.

Robert B. Reich is a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton, and was an economic advisor to President Obama.

Tuesday, September 28

Proofiness is defined as the art of using nonsensical mathematical arguments--Cheerios increases your risk of being hit by a bus?!--to convince us of the veracity of things we know in our hearts to be false. In his new book, Seife argues that bad math is undermining our democracy (not to mention our notion of common sense).

Charles Seife, author of Sun in the Bottle and Zero, which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for first non-fiction book, is an associate professor of journalism at New York University.

Wednesday, September 29

Historian and cultural critic Thaddeus Russell argues that the freedoms we cherish today were won not by "good Americans" but by the people who lived outside "respectable" society.

Written in the spirit of Howard Zinn's revisionist classic, A People's History of the United States, the new, alternative history revealed in A Renegade History of the United States, shows that drunkards, laggards, prostitutes and immigrants were the real heroes of the American Revolution. Russell upends all the standard assumptions about the United States, from its very beginning to the present day.

Thursday, September 30

Max's Kansas City: Art, Glamour, Rock and Roll is a lasting chronicle of the famed venue where Andy Warhol held court at the infamous round table in the backroom; where Willem de Kooning, John Chamberlain or Chuck Close could be found arguing about art; where Burroughs and Ginsberg discussed literature and where the Velvet Underground was the house band. Edited by Steven Kasher, with photographs by Bob Gruen, Anton Perich, Billy Name and more and contributions by Lou Reed, Lenny Kaye, Danny Fields and Steven Watson, the book captures the exuberance and decadence of one of the coolest pop cultural institutions of all time.

The Strand will host author Steven Kasher, writer Steven Watson and featured photographers Anton Perich and Danny Fields.
Oct 6: Vanessa Davis MAKE ME A WOMAN
Oct 7: Gloria Feldt NO EXCUSES
Oct 13: Lisa Birnbach TRUE PREP
Oct 14: R. Sikoryak, Neil Swaab & Keith Carter CREATING COMICS!
Oct 19: Al Jaffee & Mary-Lou Weisman AL JAFFEE'S MAD LIFE
Oct 21: Charles Burns X-ED OUT
Oct 26: Rachel Cohn & David Levithan DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES

Visit Strand's Event Calendar for the complete schedule of events.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree for every book you read!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bloggers - Join us on the 2010 Green Books Campaign: 1 day, 200 books, 200 reviews

Last November, as part of our efforts to promote books that are printed in an eco-friendly manner, we initiated a Green Books Campaign, where over 100 bloggers simultaneously published reviews of more than 100 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. This campaign also involved 40 publishers from the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

The campaign last year was very successful - more than 15,000 readers were exposed to the campaign and it received very positive feedback from publishers, bloggers and readers. Therefore, we decided to run the campaign again this November, but this time with 200 bloggers! Also, this year we are also collaborating with Indigo Books and Music, the largest book retailer in Canada to increase the campaign's impact and reach.

Just like last year, the idea is to have 200 bloggers, who review books on regular basis, to simultaneously publish their book review of a "green book" of their choice on Wednesday, November 10 2010. Our goal also hasn't changed: To use the power of the internet and social media to promote "green" books and increase the awareness of both readers and publishers to the way books can be printed printed in an eco-friendly manner.

And we still have room for bloggers who want to participate! Are you a blogger who review books on regular basis and interested in participating? If you are, the list of participating
books is available at (Please note that it's recommended to increase the magnification of the web page up to (at least) 125% to see all the details).

The books will be assigned on first come first served basis. Once a book is taken, the name of the blog will appear next to it in the column 'assigned blog'. So if you find a book that you would like to review on the campaign, just send us an email to with your details.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shanah Tovah from Eco-Libris

Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah Eve, the day before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday celebrating the new year's day according to the Hebrew calendar.

Rosh Hashana is one of my favorite holidays, with many beautiful traditions, such as eating apple slices dipped in honey, which represent our hope for a sweet new year. So tomorrow not only President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be busy tomorrow with Rosh Hashanah issues, but we will will also be celebrating it with a lot of great local food in a traditional holiday dinner.

I would also like to take this opportunity and wish you all Sahanah Tovah on behalf of Eco-Libris. May this Rosh Hashanah be the beginning of a sweet, green and wonderful year!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Friday, September 3, 2010

We have a winner on our giveaway of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting"

We have a winner on our giveaway of the "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting"!

Following our review of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting"
by Chris McLaughlin, we asked you to share with us what you like most about composting and if you don't compost yet, what you think you'll like about it once you start.

We got interesting replies and we have a winner! Our winner is Julie Kieras who wrote:

What I like most about composting is that my husband does all the work! haha kidding - I like that when we compost we reduce our garbage, return energy to the earth, and improve our gardens! My hubby would love to read this book!

Congrats Julie! You won a copy of "
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting" and we'll also plant a tree for this book! Thank you also for all the rest of the participants!


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Axis of Structural Decline - Tower Records, Blockbuster and now Barnes & Noble?

"First Tower Records, then Blockbuster, now this [Barnes & Noble].”

This is a quote of Dora Schulman, a shoe saleswoman who referred to the
upcoming closing of B&N store at 66th Street and Broadway in Manhattan.

Ms. Schulman, who was quoted in a New York Times article about the store's closing, was talking about the stores on her route that were closing, but unintentionally she also created what w
e can describe as Axis of Structural Decline.

Tower Records filed for bankruptcy in 2004. On December 22, 2006, the last Tower Records store in New York City was closed down. Why? NPR tried to explain in a report in 2009:

"Folks would say, 'Well, wasn't this all about Napster?' And I'm like, 'Not so much as the fact that I think Tower just sort of lost relevancy,' " Crupnick [Russ Crupnick, who analyzes music retail for a firm called NPD] says. Big-box stores undercut Tower in pricing CDs. Baby Boomers stopped buying new music. Young people stopped caring about liner notes and owning a physical product. And Crupnick says that, by the late 1990s, Tower Records was no longer a music lover's mecca. It was just a higher-end Sam Goody. "They became very ordinary, in terms of their expansion plans," Crupnick says. "And arguably, as they went to about 90 stores, they lost that whole idea of being special."

Blockbuster, as was reported by is planning to file bankruptcy:

"Just as video stores once failed to compete with Blockbuster’s larger inventory, the retail chain now can’t compete with Amazon, Netflix, on-demand cable-satellite, and other means of delivering video entertainment that don’t involve going to a store".

So is Barnes & Noble about to fail just like Tower Records and Blockbuster Video did? Well, B&N definitely suffer from the same illnesses: they slowly lose their relevancy and their added value for customer, they face fierce competition, they have trouble to adopt to the new reality of growing online sales and e-book dominance. Still, unlike Tower Records and Blockbuster they're not out of business and they are still in a position where they can influence the way their future will look like.

Right now it doesn't seem like they have a plan, so if nothing happens don't be surprised if instead the old Axis of Evil, we'll have the new Axis of Structural Decline.

My suggestion to B&N? Here's what we think should become of of B&N brick and mortar bookstores to help them become again an asset for the company -

More articles on the future of bookstores can be found at /bookstores_future.asp

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting sustainable reading!