Tuesday, November 30, 2010

3,000 trees will be planted in Africa for the Swedish edition of Muhammad Yunus' new book 'Building Social Business'

We are happy to announce on our latest collaboration with the Swedish publisher BookHouse Editions. We have the privilege of collaborating on a special book of a special author - 3,000 trees will be planted to balance out the Swedish edition of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus' latest book: 'Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity's Most Pressing Needs'.

The Swedish edition of 'Building Social Business' (In Swedish it is 'Socialt företagande') is released today by BookHouse Editions and can be purchased on their website. 3,000 trees will be planted with Eco-Libris in Malawi, Africa by our planting partner, RIPPLE Africa, on behalf of the publisher to balance out this edition. Inside the book you can also find our logo and details on our vision and operations.

This is the second book of Prof. Yunus we're collaborating on with BookHouse Editions. In 2008 we balanced out the Swedish edition of his book 'Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism'.

What's the book about? (from the Yunus Centre's website):
This third book by Professor Yunus, following Banker to the Poor and Creating a World Without Poverty, is dedicated solely towards the concept of social business, its implementation, and its maintenance. Social business is an innovative business model which promotes the idea of doing business in order to address a social problem, and not to maximize profit. As the title suggests, this complement to traditional capitalism truly can serve humanity’s most pressing needs, especially poverty. Each and every social business creates employment, good working conditions, and of course, addresses a specific social ill such as lack of education, healthcare, and good nutrition.

In simple terms, a social business is a non-loss, non-dividend company dedicated entirely to achieve a social goal. In social business, the investor gets his investment money back over time, but never receives dividend beyond that amount. The Grameen Bank is a prime example of social business, with the Grameen borrowers themselves being its shareholders!

Building Social Business
consists of case studies, anecdotes, and solid advice from Professor Yunus himself. This “Social Business Manual” is a must read for anyone who wants to use his or her creativity to make a positive impact in their neighborhood, town, country, and world.

About the author (from the Nobel Prize website): Professor Muhammad Yunus established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, fueled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right. His objective was to help poor people escape from poverty by providing loans on terms suitable to them and by teaching them a few sound financial principles so they could help themselves.

From Dr. Yunus' personal loan of small amounts of money to destitute basketweavers in Bangladesh in the mid-70s, the Grameen Bank has advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through microlending. Replicas of the Grameen Bank model operate in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Born in 1940 in the seaport city of Chittagong, Professor Yunus studied at Dhaka University in Bangladesh, then received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt in 1969 and the following year became an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University. Returning to Bangladesh, Yunus headed the economics department at Chittagong University.

From 1993 to 1995, Professor Yunus was a member of the International Advisory Group for the Fourth World Conference on Women, a post to which he was appointed by the UN secretary general. He has served on the Global Commission of Women's Health, the Advisory Council for Sustainable Economic Development and the UN Expert Group on Women and Finance.

This is a very interesting book on a fascinating subject that is relevant more than ever - the social business model and its potential to harness the entrepreneurial spirit to address poverty, hunger, and disease. Certainly worth reading, and if you can't read Swedish, you can check out the English version of the book published by Public Affairs.

In this video you can see Muhammad Yunus talking with Tina Brown of the Daily Beast about his book:

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Monday, November 29, 2010

What are you buying this holiday season: a paper book or an e-book?

No matter what choice you make (although if you choose e-books we recommend to check out post on which e-reader is the greenest one), we would like to offer you to green up your gift with Eco-Libris!

Yes, Eco-Libris has a special offer for you:
Plant trees to balance out the books your loved ones read. We will send them a beautiful holiday card and Eco-Libris stickers to display on their books’ sleeves. Just change the shipping address on the PayPal payment page to the address of the gift receiver (or send us a separate email to info@ecolibris.net with the details) and we will take care of the rest!

If you're buying books as gifts, you can also add the stickers and the card, making it a great green gift (And if you're looking for an idea for a "green" book, you can find plenty of ideas on our green books campaign).

The holiday greeting cards we send are made by
Doodle Greetings (see picture abvoe). Not only these cards come with a beautiful design, but they are also eco-friendly - printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper and are made chlorine-free and acid free. Sounds like a good fit with Eco-Libris stickers, which are also made of recycled paper!

This is also very affordable gift offer, starting from $6.50 for 5 trees/stickers and a holiday card!
Interested? go to our holidays gift page and check it out.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting green reading!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Award finalist for Mind Body Spirit Children's Book published by our Aussie partner Pick-a-WooWoo!

We just got great news from our partner, the Australian publisher Pick-a-WooWoo, announcing that their book KC the Conscious Camel was a finalist in the Mind Body Spirit Category for Children - 2010 Best Books, USA Book News Awards.

Kudos to Pick-a-WooWoo! KC the CONSCIOUS CAMEL is a story of being conscious of your own emotions and of employing spirituality and personal power to be the best that you can be. It even shows the children how to do this through meditating.

Eco-Libris is collaborating with Pic-a-WooWoo to plant trees for most their recent titles. 625 trees for were planted for KC the Conscious Camel.

Here's some more information about the book:

When K.C.'s dear friend, Sticky the Pig, is ridiculed by the class bully, Ginger the Red Fox, for an unfortunate mud puddle incident, KC shares with Sticky the tools to owning an emotion and then moving beyond it. KC demonstrates the need for acting instead of reacting. Throughout the day, the precocious camel points out opportunities for he and his friends to tune in to their inner peace, joy, and unconditional love. KC shows them how to stay connected to these productive and positive emotions through meditation.

KC and his classmates ultimately demonstrate to their teacher and to each other that they are capable of complex spiritual evolution...and a harmonious day on the playground!

Author: Suzanne McRae
Alexander Mortimer

More information on other titles published by Pick-a-Woo Woo can be found on their website - http://www.pickawoowoo.com

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Which e-reader is the greenest one - Kobo, Sony, Nook or the Kindle? An holiday gift buyer's guide

Black Friday is a good time to get to the second part in our analysis of purchasing an e-reader as a gift this holiday season. In the first part we discussed the question in which cases it can be considered an eco-friendly gift. Today we try to determine which e-reader is the greenest one.

We compared 4 popular e-readers - Amazon Kindle Wireless, Barnes & Noble Nook Wi-Fi, Kobo Wireless and Sony Reader Pocket Edition. As you can see we didn't include the iPad, as even after the discounts Apple is offering now, it costs $458, which I guess makes it less likely that it will become a popular gift. The other 4 e-readers cost $100-$150, which is a more reasonable pricing for a gift.

One obstacle we had is the lack of information. Unfortunately, the only company that publishes a detailed environmental report on its eReader is Apple. Therefore some important information that can change the results is still missing and we hope it will be available soon. We believe it is the responsibility of the companies selling these e-readers not just to provide quality products, but also to be more transparent and provide customers with information on the e-readers' environmental and social impacts.

We compared the characteristics of the 4 e-readers in 11 categories. Each e-reader that won a category got 1 point. In couple of categories there were more than one winner (for example, recycling) and then each of them received one point. So without further due let's go to the results:

Kindle - 4 points for winning the categories of battery life, ability of user to replace the battery, memory (storage) and recycling.

Sony - 4 points for winning the categories of weight, ability of user to replace the battery, availability of book lending from libraries and recycling.

Kobo - 3 points for winning the categories of ability of user to replace the battery, availability of book lending from libraries and toxins.

Nook - 2 points for winning the categories of capability to loan ebooks to friends and availability of book lending from libraries.

So technically the Kindle and Sony Reader share the first place, but among the two, the Kindle has better results as the 2 points Sony Reader got for ability of user to replace the battery and availability of book lending from libraries do not actually have any environmental impacts (they are more socially-oriented, which is also important, but at the same time do not have any influence on the footprint of the device).

The full comparison can be found at http://www.ecolibris.net/holidayguide.asp

So the bottom line is this: We still know too little on the environmental impact of e-readers, but from what we do know, if you went through the test we offered last week and still thinks e-reader would be a good fit for the person you want to buy it to, then from a green point of view the Kindle is your best choice.

More resources on the e-Books vs. physical books environmental debate can be found on our website at www.ecolibris.net/ebooks.asp.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting Sustainable Reading!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Borders is closing stores, adding Google tools and teaming with MeetUp - Is this a winning strategy? Probably not..

I read yesterday on GalleyCat that Borders Group plans to close 17 Borders superstores nationwide after the holidays including one in Michigan. They also mentioned that Borders announced "they will use Google’s Local Availability tool and Meetup Everywhere to create a more interactive shopping experience."

The reason Borders is taking these steps is obvious - Borders is in trouble (On the second quarter Borders Group lost $46.7 million - this was the fifth time in six quarters they posted a loss) and is trying to cut costs and find a strategy that will transform its brick and mortar stores back into an asset.

But is using Google's Local Availability feature and teeming with Meetup the strategy that will make Borders' remaining stores stronger and revive the company's profitability? I don't think so.

Mike Edwards, CEO of Borders explained these steps in their press release:

"Borders has recently introduced a number of customer-focused programs designed to create an exceptional shopping experience both in-store and online. Google's Local Availability feature is yet another great service we're offering that enables our customers to quickly search for a book at their local Borders store. We're making it easier than ever for customers to find the perfect gift when they are on the go this holiday season.

We're also excited to team with Meetup to provide our customers with the ability to find our enriching in-store events and organize their own activities at Borders. Our stores are natural community hubs, where our customers gather together to celebrate books — our participation in Meetup will be a great avenue for fostering an even stronger sense of community around the joy of reading."

The Google feature can be valuable, but it has more potential to boost online sales rather than sales at stores. The collaboration with Meetup is also a nice idea, but Borders stores as 'natural community hubs'? somehow it sounds more natural when we're talking about local independent bookstores and not stores that belong to the second largest book retailer in the U.S. I can understand why Borders wants to become a local hub, but I really don't think it will happen as is not a natural part of Borders' DNA, no matter how you look at it.

In all, my conclusion is that Borders is still far from having a solid strategy for its brick and mortar stores. They're trying, no doubt about that, and it looks like they're even trying harder than B&N, but it's not enough. To maintain their position in the book retail market they'll have to come up with a much better strategy. Until then, we'll probably see more Borders stores closing.

More related articles:
Is there a future for Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores? Is it a green one?, Eco-Libris Blog

Can monetary incentives + local benefits generate a brighter future for independent bookstores?, Eco-Libris Blog

You can find more resources on the future of bookstores on our website at

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Portland Bottom Line is going green with Eco-Libris!

We are happy to announce a new collaboration, this time with the editors of 'The Portland Bottom Line', a new book exploring how small businesses can effectively and efficiently shift toward sustainability and thrive.

This interesting and unique book, which was released earlier this month, includes 51 essays of small-business people from Portland who share their experiences with sustainability in their companies.One tree will be planted with Eco-Libris for every printed copy of the book.

Here's more about the book:
Co-edited by Peter Korchnak and Megan Strand and organized into 12 sections along the triple bottom line of People, Planet, and Prosperity, “The Portland Bottom Line: Practices for Your Small Business from America’s Hotbed of Sustainability” explores how small businesses can effectively and efficiently shift toward sustainability and thrive. In their short, 400-word essays, 51 small-business people from the City of Roses share their experiences with sustainability in their companies.

“The Portland Bottom Line” demonstrates how small businesses can innovate to put people before profit, help restore the ecosystem, and prosper. The book is also a community benefit project. Contributors collectively chose, by vote, the local community organization Mercy Corps Northwest, which supports the launch and growth of sustainable ventures, to receive 100% of profit from the book’s sales.

We are happy to partner with this book as we strongly believe in the power of local businesses to create change and move the local economy towards sustainability. We know very well from our involvement with SBN in Philadelphia and Portland is also a good (if not the best) example of this process. Hopefully this book will help and inspire other places to follow and create the change we are looking for.

This book is also a very interesting experience in crowdsourcing, as the sustainable marketing expert and co-editor Peter Korchnak points out in the introduction to the book:

"As I delved deeper into my exploration of sustainability and marketing, the questions seemed increasingly pressing. In my search for the best way to explore and publicize the issue, I recalled my experience co-authoring mass-collaboration book projects such as "Connect! Marketing in the Social Media Era" and "Age of Conversation 3: It's Time to Get Busy". Could I employ the same crowdsourcing technique of co-creation to produce a collection of essays highlighting answers to those burning questions?" Did you receive answers to these questions?

We talked with Peter about the book, the working process and the answers you can find this book:

Hi Peter. How "The Portland Bottom Line" started?
Three factors motivated the creation of “The Portland Bottom Line”:

First, after I contributed chapters to “Connect: Marketing in the Social Media Era” and “Age of Conversation 3: It's Time to Get Busy”, I realized collaborative books that benefit causes are a fantastic way to create microcommunities around topics of interest and raise money for good.

Secondly, as principal of Semiosis Communications [link: http://www.semiosiscommunications.com/ ], a Portland, Oregon-based sustainable marketing company, I have focused on strategies and tactics that support social sustainability – the People bottom line.

Finally, Portland is on the national, if not worldwide, forefront of sustainability, and I'm always on the lookout for additional ways to share our accomplishments here.

I thought, why not combine it all? Can I create a crowdsourced book in which Portland's business community can share their experiences with sustainability? “The Portland Bottom Line” is the answer.

Did you receive answers to the questions you brought up at the
introduction to the book (see above)?
Absolutely. Each essay in the book demonstrates sustainability and business go well together. For Portland's small-business community, sustainability is both personal and profitable.

Can you highlight one or two stories that taught you new lessons about
integrating sustainability and business together?
What really struck me was how personal doing business in a sustainable way is for contributors. Adopting sustainable practices in business is certainly a business decision, but personal experiences and convictions drive it long-term.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the range of stories, from deeply autobiographical narratives to number-crunching case studies, as well as by the range of businesses that contributed. To see very little shameless self-promotion was also very encouraging.

Alan Gunderson's piece “Growing and Staying Green” highlights how company growth and environmental sustainability can go well together. As a marketing professional, I was happy to see Rich Bruer write about sustainable branding in “Sustainable Branding: It May Not Be What You Think”: small businesses, too, need to cultivate their brands to stay in business.

With all these stories that show you how sustainability is a win-win business strategy, why do you think the majority of businesses still avoid this path?

Though the essays in “The Portland Bottom Line” demonstrated that sustainability is partly a personal, emotional issue, none of the contributors would have applied sustainable practices in their business if it hadn't made business sense as well.

There's a widespread, albeit slowly diminishing, misconception out there about what sustainability means. For far too many people sustainability still equals 'being green', even though it, in fact, includes social and financial benefits as well. That's why the triple bottom line is often depicted as a three-legged stool: Profit, People, and Planet must be balanced in our business decisions, otherwise it won't work.

As the number and success of sustainability-minded companies grows, more will join them on that path.

Do you think there's a next level to making local businesses more sustainable or what we read in these stories is as good as it gets?
I believe that outside of nature, total sustainability does not exist. We can only strive to conduct business as sustainably as possible. In other words, sustainability isn't a goal, but, as the previous question pointed out, it's a path. In sustainability, the journey truly is the destination.

Why is it (almost) only Portland? Why don't we see similar sustainable/local business hubs in other cities?

Several theories exist why Portland is a hotbed of sustainability. A while ago I summarized my take in a dedicated blog post “
Portland is an island”. In brief, we must thank our natural environment, climate, people and their connection to this place, liberal politics, government policies, and the virtuous circle connecting it all together. Portlanders love their city and its surroundings, and we'll do everything possible to preserve and nourish both.

At the same time, while Portland may be on the forefront of sustainability, we still have a ways to go. As I said earlier, sustainability is an ideal. In a small city like this one, sustainable business stands out because of its higher-than average concentration. A lot of good, and often better, stuff is happening in other cities as well, and we have plenty to learn from them.

How was the crowdsourcing process? Would you do it again?

am doing it again. Volume 2 of “The Portland Bottom Line” will be out in November 2011.

Crowdsourcing is a lot of work – it takes more than you think at the outset. Particularly coordination of the crowd is a huge task, testimony to the fact that crowdsourcing requires good management, it doesn't just happen. The experience made me wish there were an easy way, and I look forward to soon delivering that with GoodBookery, which will enable people to create and publish collaborative books that benefit causes.

How come you don't have even one story from a bookstore?

I did notice that. I guess no bookstore owners are in my social network yet. Please connect me or, if you run a bookstore that would be interested in carrying “The Portland Bottom Line”, please get in touch at editors[at]portlandbottomline[dot]com.

Any advice to someone who might be inspired from your project and would like to do something similar in their city?

Start working on the concept now, but hold off until July 2011 when GoodBookery will be launching. In the meantime, go to GoodBookery.com to sign up for updates!

Thanks, Peter! More information about 'The Portland Bottom Line' can be found at http://portlandbottomline.com

The book can be purchased and downloaded on

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Green book of the week: The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway

After having the Green Books Campaign we're getting back to the tradition of presenting you each week an interesting green book. And today we have a book that is a great fit to the upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

Our book is:

The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove

Author: Cathy Erway
Cathy Erway is a Brooklyn-based food blogger and freelance writer. Her blog, www.NoteatingoutinNewYork.com is based on a two-year mission to forego restaurant and take-out food in place of home-cooked meals.

Cathy began cooking at an early age, learning from her parents, who are both avid cooks and adventurous eaters. She studied creative writing at Emerson College. She has written for The Huffington Post, Time Out NY online, and various small online magazines, and has a feature article in Edible Brooklyn. She has hosted, competed in, or served as a judge at numerous cook-offs in NYC and participated in fundraiser events for Slow Food USA. Cathy has also taught cooking classes at Garden of Eve, a Long Island based farm.

Publisher: Gotham

Published on:
February 2010

What this book is about? (from the publisher's website)

In the city where dining out is a sport, one daring gourmand swears off restaurants and commits to cooking at home in a manifesto for a new generation of conscientious eaters.

Named one of Publishers Weekly's most exciting cookbook deals, Cathy Erway's timely memoir of quitting restaurants cold turkey speaks to a new era of conscientious eating. An underpaid, twentysomething executive assistant in New York City, she was struggling to make ends meet when she decided to embark on a Walden-esque retreat from the high-priced eateries that drained her wallet. The Art of Eating In reports on the delectable results of her twenty-four-month experiment, with thirty original recipes included.

What began as a way to save money left Erway with a new appreciation for the simple pleasure of sharing a meal with friends at home, a trove of original recipes, and a greater awareness of take-out food waste and whether her ingredients were ethically grown. She also explored the antirestaurant underground of supper clubs and cook-offs, and immersed herself in an array of alternative eating lifestyles from freeganism to picking tasty greens in the park. The Art of Eating In is a personal journey that transforms the reader as it transformed the writer, about the joy of getting back in the kitchen and turning something seemingly ordinary into something completely extraordinary.

What we think about it?
I mentioned that is book is a great fit with Thanksgiving because all in all this book is about the joy of food, and not just food (well, even junk food is technically food..) but good food that is prepared at home and is consumed with family and/or friends. And Thanksgiving is maybe the holiday that comes as close as it gets to this definition.

For the author, although it is a journey full of discoveries, the joy food does not come as a complete surprise as she comes from a family with a tradition of cooking and appreciation of the social aspects of food consumption. You can see it in her description of the Thanksgiving feast at her parents:

"At holiday gatherings with my family, rarely does cooking cease to be the center of activity. I don't see this as a strange quirk, or as archaic. Cooking and feeding one another are ways of playing out family roles as much as they are acts of necessity when your are with a big group of family members all in once. They were also an expression of hospitality for our guests."

It might not look strange to her, but the whole book is describing a food culture that is strange to most Americans.

As mentioned not too long ago in Grist, a survey conducted French food sociologist Claude Fischler and his colleagues, which surveyed 7,000 people from the United States and five European nations (France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and England) about their attitudes toward food and health, found a spectrum of attitudes, with the U.S. occupying one extreme end and France, the other. Grist described the American side of this spectrum:

Here in the good ol' U.S. of A, our national identity as disparate, atomized individuals is reflected in how we see our food: nothing more than a sum of individual nutrients that can be customized to fit the health needs and tastes of the individual. Americans value choice in their diets above almost all else. They want to build a diet especially for their bodies and what they choose to put in their bodies is always their choice.

Fischler explained in a lecture at the University of Washington that "the simple act of eating involves more than just you and your food -- society is also present, in the customs, in the place, and in your companions (or lack thereof)." Erway agrees with him: "The need to prepare food and to consume it is what tamed humans into living in interdependent societies instead of individually as hunter gatherers...Coming to the table for an unquestionably enjoyable act - eating - allowed for human interaction either meaningful or mundane - essentially, the opportunity to commune."

The journey of Erway explores not only the abandonment of restaurants and takeouts, but also other alternative ways of food consumption such as freeganism and urban foraging. In all, this is far more than just another experience of "a year without _______", which became so popular in the last couple of years. I see it more as unlocking the doors of food of perception that dominates the current Western food culture. This is an enjoyable journey into the land of sustainable food consumption, full with great recipes and honest personal accounts from what seems to be the busiest kitchen in Brooklyn. Last but not least, here's a warning: This book will make you hungry to be prepared!

Final green comment: Inside the book, published by Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group, there is no mention of the paper the book is printed on, so I can't know for sure if it is printed on environmental paper or not. Having said that, given Pearson's paper purchasing policy (Pearson is the parent company of Penguin US), there's a good chance it is printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. In any event, due to the issues the book deals with, we thought it earns the right to be part of our green books recommendations.

Disclosure: We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why RAN's rainforest-safe children's books campaign might not mobilize consumers to take action?

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released yesterday a new report grading 11 of the largest children’s book publishers in the US. Their grades were given based on their paper policies and purchasing practices. It was also accompanied by a consumer guide, asking consumers to choose books from publishers who are committed to rainforest protection.

Both the report and the consumer guide follow a report launched by RAN in May, which found that a large number of kids’ books sold in the US are now being printed in Asia using paper that is closely linked to the loss of rainforests in Indonesia.

This is a very important campaign and we applaud RAN for their efforts to ensure that books will be printed sustainably and won't be contribute to the destruction or Indonesian rainforests. This campaign is clearly aiming at mobilizing consumers to buy rainforest-safe children's books this holiday season (and in general), but we have to ask ourselves - is it really effective? is it really change consumers' behavior?

First, let's look into what RAN's guide include. According to their press release,RAN’s guide recommends that consumers buy from industry leaders that have taken action publicly to decrease their forest and environmental footprints by creating time-bound commitments to phase out controversial Indonesian paper fiber and paper suppliers. The recommended companies include Hachette Book Group, Candlewick Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, MacMillan, Penguin Group (Pearson), Scholastic and Simon & Schuster. (the last three publishers, by the way, took part in the Green Books Campaign).

Some top publishing companies have yet to take public action to protect Indonesia’s rainforests. These companies have failed to make public commitments or adopt purchasing policies that improve their environmental footprints and ensure the papers they buy are not linked to Indonesian rainforest destruction. RAN’s guide recommends that book buyers avoid these companies this year: Disney Publishing Worldwide and HarperCollins.

So this is the message. Loud and clear - buy books published by the recommend publishers and avoid the ones that got a Failed grade. What tools RAN is using to get the message out to consumers? You got the following:

- A pocket-size shopping guide, which can be downloaded and printed. You can also share it with friends on Facebook and tweet it.

- There's the full report you can read online: Rainforest-Safe Kids' Books: How do Publishers Stack Up?

- Rainforest-Safe Book Database

- 'Roar At the Store' week - from December 6th-12th, hundreds across North America will hand out rainforest-safe guides in front of their favorite bookstores.

This is an impressive campaign. But will these tools help the campaign to meet its goals? Will it mobilize people to take action and buy only rainforest-safe children's books? I'm not sure about it and there are couple of reasons that makes me worry that the campaign won't be as effective as it could be:

1. The first step in mobilizing consumers into action is to get them aware of the campaign and its messages. RAN makes an effort to make it social network friendly and to have presence in bookstores during the first week of December, but I wonder how many consumers will actually hear about it.

First, a growing number of consumers buy online (online spending this holiday season is expected to grow by at least 9% according to analytics firm comScore), and the chances they will hear about the campaign are relatively slim. Second, even though RAN will have presence in hundreds of stores during the first week of December, they will still be able to reach to only a small percentage of the buyers.

What can be done? The best option would be to collaborate with book retailers such as Amazon, B&N, Indigo, Borders and the American Booksellers Association. If even one of them would agree to collaborate with RAN, there's a much better chance to reach a much greater number of consumers both at brick and mortar stores and online.

But I guess that's not going to happen as no retailer would agree to call his customers to avoid books they're selling. It just doesn't makes sense for them. So if we're looking at RAN's options realistically then I believe their best option then is to go viral - a viral campaign, just like what Greenpeace did with their 'Ask Nestle to give rainforests a break' campaign is the only way to get the word out effectively and reach a large number of consumers.

2. The most problematic part is how to mobilize consumers into action. OK, so you got people to hear about the campaign and let's assume many of them really relate to the message and care about the rainforests in Indonesia. Will it be enough to convince them to prefer books published by "good" publishers and avoid ones published by "bad" publishers? I doubt.

And the reason I doubt is that according to the rules of green marketing there's a good chance it won't work. Now, you can wonder why an activism campaign should look into rules of green marketing - RAN is not a company and it doesn't try to sell anything. That's true, but at the same time it tries to influence consumers' behavior and get them to buy a "green" product over a "non-green product", which is exactly what green marketing is all about.

One of the basic rules of green marketing, according to green marketing expert Jacquelyn Ottman, is to avoid trade-offs and if you can’t, make sure the cost to consumers of the green attribute doesn’t outweigh the product’s benefits.

Let's look for a moment at the equation here. The cost is very clear - you need to avoid certain books, even you wanted to buy them in the first place because of their publisher's practices. Instead you're being asked to buy books from a list of rainforest-safe books of publishers who got a Recommended grade. The benefit is that by doing that you're supporting publishers who help to protect Indonesia's rainforests.

Would this benefit be enough to persuade consumers to pay the price? Not to most of the consumers. This is unfortunate of course, but that's the reality. For the majority of the consumers you need actual benefits and not just the good feeling of doing the right thing to outweigh the costs. These benefits can be for example a discount on the recommended books, an hard to resist deal such as buy two recommended books and get the third one for free, discount coupons, etc. Without such benefits that will reward consumers for taking green actions you will be able to persuade only a small percentage of consumers to do the right thing.

What can be done? Again, the best way is collaborating with retailers, but since it's not realistic, maybe RAN should check with the recommended publishers how to create an hard to resist deal or provide consumers with discounts (maybe through websites like groupon). Another way to incentivize consumers is to find a green sponsor that will give a coupon for every purchase of a recommended book (RecycleBank is an inspirational example of this concept).

Another way to change the equation is to reduce the costs. The shopping guide is really small and informational, but still it's a hassle to check every book with the list of the publishers on it (especially when each one of them has many imprints). How about an App, where you can scan the ISBN of the book on your mobile phone and get an immediate YES/NO recommendation? This can also be a convenient way to provide coupons or discounts.

I'm sure that such an App will significantly increase the number of consumers that will use the guide and take it into consideration, as it will lower the cost they need to pay for taking a positive green action.

In all, we wish RAN all the best with this important campaign, but because of its importance and the effort they already put into it, I do hope they'll take into consideration some of the comments made here and will make this campaign as effective as it can possibly be.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting Sustainable Reading!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New research looks into the habits of e-book buyers

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) just released their Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey, looking into the habits of e-book buyers.

According to BISG's press release, Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading is the first study to capture data from hundreds of book buyers who also identify themselves as e-book readers. Respondents were first surveyed during a 2009-2010 cycle (November 2009 to July 2010) to find out when, why, how and where they purchase and use both e-books and e-readers, providing a baseline measure of impact in a dynamic market. Both the 2009−2010 cycle and the new 2010-2011 cycle are powered by Bowker's PubTrack Consumer.

Here some interesting findings from the 2010-2011 cycle:

- E-book buyers are buying fewer print books: more than 40% of survey respondents say they have reduced the number and dollars spent on hardcover and paperback books.

- So far, iPad shows only marginal impact on the popularity of Kindle and NOOK. It appears that heavy to moderate book buyers want a dedicated device for reading that doesn't have a lot of distractions bundled with it.

-Publishers are declining as a source of information about upcoming e-books, being replaced by retailers.

- Third parties play an important role in device acquisition: survey respondents say they more often received their device as a gift.

- When purchasing for themselves, survey respondents say they are most often motivated by a suggestion from a friend.

This is very interesting, especially as it shows you the cannibalization effect of e-books on physical books. I also wonders if the retailers they talk about as a source of information are mainly online retailers or also brick and mortar bookstores. It would be interested to find it out if e-book buyers go to bookstores to get advice and then go home (or just do it on their mobile phone) and buy the e-book in the cheapest place they find.

I didn't see the full research (prices start from $395 to non-members), but I'm quite sure the research didn't check the green side of e-book buyers' habits, so here are some questions for e-book buyers I hope they can include in the 2011-2012 cycle:

1. If you bought the e-reader, how much did you take into consideration the environmental impact of e-reader when buying it?

2. What the chances are you will read at least 18 books on your e-reader (this is the breaking-even point)?

3. Are you aware of the recycling options offered by the seller of your e-reader?

4. Do you think in general e-books are greener than physical books?

5. How many years you think you will be using your current e-reader?

5. If offered with the same quality and price, would you consider buying a "green" e-reader (one with considerably lower carbon footprint and minimal environmental and social impacts) if such an e-reader will be in the market when you will be looking for your next e-reader?

I'll be curious to see the answers to these questions!

More resources on the e-Books vs. physical books environmental debate can be found on our website at www.ecolibris.net/ebooks.asp.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting Sustainable Reading!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Should you buy an e-reader as a gift this holiday season? Here's a green perspective

Julie Bosman wrote yesterday in the New York Times that "In a recent Consumer Reports poll, 10 percent of the adults surveyed said they planned to give an e-reader as a gift this year, up from 4 percent in 2009." According to Forrester Research, these plans are estimated to be translated into purchases of 1.3 million e-readers by American shoppers in the upcoming holiday season.

While I was reading it, I thought to myself that e-reader can be a nice gift, but what about the environmental impacts of such act? Should people really consider giving an e-reader as a gift?

Now, I'm trying to look at it from a realistic "green" point of view. I mean, we all know that the holidays is a celebration of shopping, which generates a lot waste and is far far away from any sort of sustainability. Having said that, I know that people like to give gifts, so I'm not going to preach here about giving just a card you made by yourself (which is not a bad option by the way), but instead I'll try to add into your considerations a green perspective.

The good news is that as you'll see there's no contradiction between a good gift and a green gift. When it comes to e-reader it's actually (almost) the same thing. You will see that in a minute.

As I mentioned in my article 'Is E-Reading Really Greener?
', when comparing the carbon footprint of the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G Model provided by Apple (130 kg CO2) with the carbon footprint of an average physical book (7.46 kg CO2, as provided by Cleantech report), I found a breakeven point of 17.4 books, meaning that in terms of carbon footprint, the iPad becomes a more environmental friendly alternative option for book reading once its user reads the 18th book on it.

Now, let's generalize this finding and apply it for the rest of the e-readers. It means that in general if you buy an e-reader to an avid reader, or someone that reads at least 6-7 books a year, then there's a good chance this gift will reduce hers or his reading's carbon footprint - if and when they will start reading books on the e-reader instead of buying physical ones.

So the first question you need to ask yourself is how much of a reader the person you want to buy him the e-reader is? If she or he doesn't read much, then not only you didn't buy them a green gift as they might not reach the breakeven point of 18 books, but you also bought them something that is not that useful for them, which means you can think of other gifts that can be more useful and enjoyable for them.

Another question you should ask yourself is about the chances they'll start reading using electronic format. Some people might do it very easily, while other won't as they like too much physical books or just not interested in changing their reading habits.

Remember that the worst thing is if you're buying an e-reader that will become sooner than later another piece of electronic junk that will end its life inside a drawer, or to become part of the 40 million tons of e-waste are produced globally each year according to the UN (see Annie Leonard's excellent 'Story of Electronics' to learn more about it).

This also brings us to the last two questions you should ask yourself - first, is the person you want to buy e-reader to likes to update or replace gadgets quite often? If we're talking about someone who (like most Americans) reads only six to seven books a year and switches to a newer e-reader version within three to four years, your gift isn't that green anymore.

And the last question, what is the chance they will recycle the e-reader when they'll stop using it? According to the EPA, in 2007, approximately 18 percent (414,000 short tons) of TVs and computer products ready for end-of-life management were collected for recycling. Even if you take Apple's figures into consideration ( In 2008, Apple recycled 33 million pounds of electronic waste, achieving a worldwide recycling rate of 41.9%), you will find out that there's a good chance that the e-reader you bought won't be recycled. Why it's important anyway to make sure the e-reader will be recycled? 'Story of Electronics' provides some good answers as well as on Electronics TakeBack Coalition's website.

To sum it up, you should ask yourself 4 questions about the person you want to buy e-reader to:
1. Is she an avid reader?
2. Is there a good chance she will start reading books in an electronic format?
3. Will she keep the e-reader for at least 3 years?
4. Is there a good chance she will recycle it properly when she will replace it or just stop using it?

If you replied 'Yes' to all 4 questions, you can go ahead and search for an e-reader, knowing you'll bring this time a useful gift that is eco-friendly from many perspectives. If you don't answer 'Yes' to at least 3 of these questions, you may want to look for another gift.

Next week we will discuss the next important question - which e-reader to buy from a green point of view?

More resources on the e-Books vs. physical books environmental debate can be found on our website at www.ecolibris.net/ebooks.asp.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting Sustainable Reading!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spit That Out! by Paige Wolf is going green with Eco-Libris!

We are happy to announce a new collaboration with Paige Wolf to plant a tree for every printed copy sold of her new book

Spit That Out!: The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt

The author Paige Wolf is an SBN member just like Eco-Libris and we're very excited to partner with her on he first book! Not to mention that as a relatively new parent, I can definitely relate to the issues discussed in the book and find it greatly valuable!

Here are more details about
Spit That Out!:

Have you ever stayed up all night scraping lead paint off the walls (only to realize you’ve just made the problem worse)? Googled every toy in the house to make sure they didn’t contain high levels of cadmium or lead? Searched every product in the cabinet for the mere mention of a paraben?

As a new mother, Paige Wolf has been committed to living an eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. And as an advocate for green living and owner of an eco-friendly public relations company, it has been especially important for her to “walk the walk” and be especially conscious of her choices. But with the flood of constantly changing information, it can become an increasingly impossible task.

Spit That Out!
The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt answers the questions posed by mothers on the verge of a “green mom nervous breakdown.” Parents in the 21st century have to deal with myriad concerns and information overload, the likes of which past generations never imagined. In addition to the age-old daunting task of raising happy, healthy babies, we are constantly bombarded with new and contradictory research concerning environmental toxins, long-term product effects, and the far-reaching impact of every product we purchase and decision we make.

Spit That Out!
turns to experts in pediatrics, environmental advocacy, science, holistic health, and humanitarianism to present facts, debunk myths, and help parents stay on a reasonable and responsible course without losing their minds. The mothers themselves also offer anecdotes and advice on staying sane in an ever-changing landscape of conscientious parenting. Chapters include “Green Mom Sanity Tips,” “Dollar-Savvy Sustainability Tips,” and “Parent-to-Parent Pointers” from real moms who have been in the trenches of eco-anxiety.

Real moms confess “eco-sins” and share solutions to everyday dilemmas. In addition to “everyday moms,” comedians, authors, and actresses like Tammy Pescatelli from NBC’s Last Comic Standing; Lisa Landry from Comedy Central's Standup Showdown; Sideways actress Alysia Reiner; Amy Wilson, actress and author of When Did I Get Like This?; Vicki Glembocki, author of The Second Nine Months; and Abby Sher, author of Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying (Among Other Things) find humor in the journey from overwhelming madness to solace and sanity

they are cloth-diapering, holistic mamas or moms who still can’t give up their designer duds, all modern mothers can relate to the desperation of wanting to do the best for their children — and feeling hopelessly overwhelmed in the process. Spit That Out! feeds an audience of mothers hungry for commiseration, direction, and relief.

Spit That Out!
The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt will be available on Amazon.com and select retailers.

Paige Wolf
Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations, an award-winning, eco-friendly public relations firm offering communications services to a sustainable clientele. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and American Hairless Terrier. Visit www.paigewolf.com and www.spitthatoutthebook.com.
You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Spit That Out! also participated in the Green Books Campaign last Wednesday and was reviewed by the blog shoutthelove.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Pick-a-Woo Woo's new book, Angel Archie To the Rescue, is going green with Eco-Libris!

We are happy to announce a new collaboration with our partner, the Australian publishers
Pick-a-Woo Woo, on a great new green children's book that was released last week: Angel Archie To The Rescue.

625 trees will be planted with Eco-Libris for the book's first edition. As you can see in the picture above, our logo is also added to the book's cover.

Based in Western Australia, Pick-a-Woo Woo Publishers are publishers of Mind Body Spirit books for children. Their inspirational books are designed to help children connect with their intuition and inner guidance, develop their awareness skills and enhance their Mind, Body, Spirit connection.

This book is a green book, not just because of the trees planted for it, but also because of the story it tells and the messages it sends to the readers. Here are more details about Angel Archie to the Rescue:

Mother Earth has sent Angel Archie on an incredible mission - to show children how to care for her Planet. Archie tirelessly works from morning to night with his fun, magical and sometimes musical methods.

‘This story empowers children, giving them the wisdom to ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle' and to ‘Think Green' at every opportunity. It is an extraordinary teaching tool for parents and teachers as Archie opens the opportunity for discussion about respecting our Mother Earth. Many interactive and fun activities are offered at the end of the story'

Author: Lisa Sheehy
Lisa is an energetic, positive person who lives her life with purpose and embraces everyday. She is passionate about environmental issues and the need for everyone to reduce-reuse and recycle.

With the help of ‘Angel Archie', Lisa aims to educate children on Earth the important role they play in saving our planet. Her hope is children will then teach parents and reinforce Greener living in the family home. ‘Angel Archie' and Lisa are currently working on how diet and lifestyle are affecting our children's spiritual, emotional and physical health.

Illustrator: Aaron Pocock
Aaron was born in Reading, England on May 11th 1970, now living in Brisbane, Australia and has been creative for most of his life. He's been illustrating in one way or another for most of his life.

It's the typical story of drawing since he was a child, making up imaginary worlds, populated with Wizards, Kings, Queens, Pixies, and Elves. He's been illustrating professionally since 1991 and has been blessed with the opportunity to do what he loves for a living.

Other Pick-a-Woo-Woo titles that go green with Eco-Libris:

The Boy Who Was Born To Love Frogs
Angel Steps
Ocean's Calling
KC the Conscious Came

More information on these books and other titles published by Pick-a-Woo Woo can be found on their website - http://www.pickawoowoo.com

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Can Going Green Help Publishers, or Just Planet Earth?

This question is at the center of an article I wrote, which was just published this month on the Independent Book Publishers Association's (IBPA) monthly journal, the Independent.

Here's the first paragraphs from the article:

Forecasting the future of books and the book industry seems to be becoming a national sport. All bets are open, but although no one really knows what the future holds for the industry, there’s no doubt that changes are happening fast and that publishers who don’t adjust to current trends will find themselves in a very unfavorable position.

One current broad trend is going green. You can see evidence of it almost everywhere and increasingly often. But is going green a good fit for book publishers? Can going green help the book industry meet its ever-growing challenges?

So, Can Going Green Help Publishers, or Just Planet Earth? You're welcome to read the rest of the article here and find out!

You're also welcome to read the last article I published on the Independent - is E-Reading Really Greener?

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Books Campaign: Co-opportunity by John Grant

This review is part of the Green Books campaign.Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on "green" books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

The book we review on the Green Books campaign is:

Co-opportunity: Join Up for a Sustainable, Resilient, Prosperous World

Author: John Grant

John Grant was one of the co-founders of St Luke's (the socially aware London ad agency) and is the author of 4 previous bestselling books on new frontiers in marketing, media and innovation. John's sustainable marketing and innovation clients include (the UK Government) ACTONCO2, Cisco, The Co-operative Bank, The Design Council, The Guardian, innocent drinks, IKEA, ING, i-Team (a local government initiative), O2, Philips, The Royal Mail, SSE, Unilever. John is a prolific international speaker, writer, blogger, commentator and is an associate of Forum for the Future, Demos and an Observer Ethical Awards judge.

John Grant's blog is greenormal.

Publisher: Wiley

Published on:
March 2010

What this book is about? (from the publisher's website)

John Grant is back! Bestselling author of Green Marketing Manifesto fame returns to get you involved in creating a sustainable future!

In this book, green business guru John Grant shows how we, when we join forces through co-operative initiatives, can really make changes and work towards a better future.

John uses cases and examples from around the world, from social networks to social ventures, Carrot Mobbing to the Carbon Disclosure Project, to show how a move to greater co-operation via what he calls Co-operative Networks can be a way forwards for all of us to increase the common well-being.

Arguing that a climate for change can be created by engaging rather than alienating people, John also demonstrates ways of ‘relocating dreams’ to allow us to reassess our desires and priorities.

Whether you are a business leader, politician, armchair economist, environmentalist or general interest reader, the inspiration and ideas John Grant provides in Co-Opportunity encourages us all to think again about our individual behaviour and our actions – our ideas of what it is to be human - and to get co-creating to build a better world for all. Sit back and watch, or become part of this grass roots new movement.

What we think about it?

Let me start by saying this is a brilliant book. I read many green- and sustainability- themed books and I find Co-opportunity one of the most important and mind provoking ones I've ever read.

In days where some environmentalists and just ordinary people are in despair as they read about the death of the cap and trade in Washington (was it ever alive?) and see the inability of governments to agree on a global platform for action, this book provides a moment or two of optimism.

John Grant is looking in a systematic way at the things in our life that we might take for granted but are broken and need to be fixed. And he suggests compelling arguments about the way we should fix it: together. His call for changes, as well as suggestions on how we can change both our mindset and behavior is far from being naive. On the contrary, he is very realistic and understands the limits and the compromises of real life. Still, armed with tons of interesting examples he is very convincing in getting you to believe that things can be different if we would only adopt the right approach.

I think this book is a great fit with the Green Books Campaign as this campaign is exactly the type of the
many co-operative initiatives described in the book, and our hope is that the joint work of readers, authors, publishers, retailers and organizations that are involved in the campaign will help moving the book forward towards a more sustainable future.

This book is printed using acid free paper, responsibly manufactured from sustainable forestry in which at least two trees are planted for each one used for paper production.

Co-Opportunity for Sustainable Change - John Grant from Sustainable Brands on Vimeo.

Disclosure: We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

If you're looking for other interesting green books, please check out
the Green Books Campaign's page at www.ecolibris.net/greenbookscampaign2010.asp .

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!