Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comments on LinkedIn groups on the future of bookstores

I like to share interesting stories, both ones we write about here and others we read on the Internet, with relevant LinkedIn groups. Usually, when the story is interesting, the discussion continues in these groups and provides thoughtful and interesting comments.

This was exactly the case with the stories on Nick Sherry's comment on the death of bookstores and the article on Toronto Star on how Indigo Books & Music is remaking itself in the age of the digital book. I wanted to share with you some of the comments these stories received on LinkedIn.

The first story is the one I wrote here on the comments Nick Sherry made about the death of bookstores in Australia (Is Nick Sherry right about the death of bookstores within five years?)

Just a reminder - Nick Sherry, the Australian minister for small businesses started an uproar after predicting that "in five years, other than a few speciality bookshops in capital cities, you will not see a bookstore. They will cease to exist because of what's happening with internet-based, web-based distribution." Our post focused on the counter-arguments to his comment, trying to figure out if they could indicate if Sherry has a point in his comment or not.

The discussion continued on the ABA LinkedIn group. Here are some of the comments:

"Hate to say it but yes. Once publisher don't need to print / wholesale books to Bookstores they won't. Borders? Barnes and Noble?. When was the last time you went to a record store?" - Michael Ridgway

Our small independent has already gone the way of Tower Records." - Sue Barnett

I concur with the fact that bookstores are becoming extinct; in my mind, this is the paradox that comes with technology. Will people miss the experience of physically flipping through pages of potential book purchases? Probably not, particularly since we seem to have become more and more dependent on our computers as extensions of product availability. We're not simply couch potatoes anymore, we're techno potatoe patches!" - Leamon Scott

"Well I can tell you this much, our retail and wholesale numbers are up. We do not sell ebooks. While there is definately a big change in the book business I don't believe they will become extinct. People still love the feel of a real book. " -

The second story came from the Toronto Sun. The story was on Indigo, the largest book retailer in Canada (Indigo also supported our 2010 Green Books Campaign) and how it is remaking itself in the digital age. The article itself is mainly an interview with Indigo CEO Heather Reisman.

Here are the comments on the LinkedIn group Digital Book World following this story, which I linked there. I have to admit that in this case the comments are more interesting than the article..

"If the US booksellers' margins are anything like Indigo's margins, traditional book retailers are doomed. $1 billion in income and only $11.3 million in profit -- that is just a little over a 1% profit margin -- zero room for error and no room for a market decline due to eBooks." - Kent Winward

Book retail has been living on a fragile 2% or less margin since the 80s but had to weather nothing so seismic as the ebook shift, poor economy and shrinking outlets as we are today. Five years from now it will definitely be a different landscape. What worries me is in the transition we may see be some non fiction categories really suffer to the point of extinction." - Jim Fallone

It appears Indigo is on a pair of well-financed fool's errands...

Betting the business on the Kobo reader is crazy enough - near-zero market share, and nothing compelling to recommend Kobo over the Nook, Kindle, or iPad. But aiming to become a bricks & mortar version of Amazon by selling home decor and kitchen products seems insane. " - Paul Gardner

hanks again for all the people who contribute to these interesting discussions!

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Greenpeace wants you to think how many trees it takes to make chopsticks next time you order Chinese food!

Greenpeace launched last year a campaign in China to call attention to the urgent need for forest conservation in China. One of the main issues they focused on was chopsticks.

According to statistics from the Forestry Administration, China produced 57 billion pairs of disposable wooden chopsticks in 2009 alone. How many trees were cut down for these chopsticks? According to Greenpeace , the production of disposable chopsticks required wood from 3.8 million trees!

Last year Greenpeace and Ogilvy Beijing have teamed up to plant an eye-catching “chopstick forest” that was displayed outside The Place, a popular shopping center in the heart of Beijing.

Ogilvy explained how it worked:

Over the last several months, Ogilvy worked with Greenpeace, local artist Yinhai Xu and more than 200 volunteers from 20 Chinese universities to collect more than 80,000 pairs of used (and sanitized) disposable wooden chopsticks from restaurants and repurposed them into a forest of chopstick trees that stand approximately 5 meters tall.

Aihong Li, director of Greenpeace's Forest Protection Program, said: “These trees should have been abundantly green and vibrant, but now they are pieced together with wasteful disposable chopsticks. Our hope is that everyone in China will join us in saying "no" to disposable chopsticks to protect our forests.”

Now, 6 months later, Greenpeace is coming out with a video entitled "Disposable Project" that is showing the campaign and calling for greater awareness among chopstick users for the materials the chopsticks are made from. In other words: Trees. Their suggestion? Very simple - replacing wooden chopsticks with a plastic or metal version, a reusable and environmentally-friendly alternative. Think about it next time you order Chinese take-out.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant trees for your books!

Monday, June 27, 2011

My article today on Triple Pundit about the coolest video on Whole Foods!

Here's an update on a new article I published today on Triple Punditv on a new viral video about Whole Foods.
The article is entitled "It’s Getting REAL in the Whole Foods Parking Lot, Good News for Execs." Here's the first paragraph of the article:

I’m sure that when Whole Foods’ executives saw for the first time the YouTube video ‘Whole Foods Parking Lot (see the video below)’ they were relieved. This self-mocking parody on a shopper at Whole Foods, they’ve learned, is very funny and does not include any nasty language. You won’t find any mention of John Mackey (Whole Foods’ co-founder and co-CEO) and his positions on health care reform, unions and climate change, not to mention the code name “rahodeb.”

We’re safe, they probably told each other – no boycotting groups on Facebook this time, just more than 1.77 million people humming to themselves ‘It’s getting’ REAL in the Whole Foods Parking Lot’.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

10 best eco-chic and eco-beauty ebooks!

We're back with our weekly ten recommendations on green ebooks, and today we have a special list of eco-chic and green beauty ebooks!

The links of these ebooks are to and I apologize in advance to all the Nook, iPad, Kobo and Sony Reader owners. I hope you can easily find an ebook you'll like on other ebookstores. This is also the place to disclose that we're taking part in Amazon's affiliate program and therefore will receive a small percentage of every purchase made using these links.

We hope you don't mind!
You can find all the lists published so far on our recommended green ebooks webpage (see examples at the bottom of this post).

Without further ado, here's this week's list of 10 recommended eco-chic and eco-beauty e-books for this week:

1. EcoBeauty: Scrubs, Rubs, Masks, Rinses, and Bath Bombs for You and Your Friends by Lauren Cox - Ten Speed Press (March 9, 2011)

2. Eco-Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Beauty and Wellness by Lina Hanson - Rodale Books (May 12, 2009)

3. Eco Chic by Matilda Lee - Octopus (November 30, 2007)

4. The Cosmetic Chemicals Guide by Tamara Laschinsky - Amazon Kindle Services (Jan 6, 2011)

5. The Green Beauty Guide: Your Essential Resource to Organic and Natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup, and Fragrances by Julie Gabriel - Health Communications (September 8, 2008)

6. The Eco Chick Guide to Life: How to Be Fabulously Green by Starre Vartan - St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (August 19, 2008)

7. Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie Tourles - Storey Publishing (June 1, 2007)

8. Green Chic by Christie Matheson - Sourcebooks, Inc. (March 1, 2008)

9. The Essential Green You (Green This!) by Deirdre Imus - Simon & Schuster (December 30, 2008)

10. Gorgeously Green by Sophie Uliano - HarperCollins e-books (July 8, 2008)

More recommended green ebooks lists:

Best green ebooks for Father's Day

Best ebooks for green entrepreneurs

Best green marketing ebooks

Best green business ebooks

See you next week!


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Barnes & Noble Bankruptcy Index: Will John Malone still be interested in B&N following their 4Q loss?

After a break of couple of weeks, we're back with our B&N bankruptcy index, following the release yesterday of B&N's fourth quarter report.

Jeffrey Trachtenberg summed B&N's report on the WSJ: "Barnes & Noble Inc., the target of a takeover bid by Liberty Media Corp., saw its digital strategy pay off in its fiscal fourth quarter with healthy gains on the e-book and e-reader front, but investments in that business took a toll on the bottom line."

Still no word about the future of B&N's brick and mortar stores as B&N seems to be putting everything it got on the Nook and e-book sales, a risky bet that might be too risky for a brick and mortar company
. Bottom line: This week our B&N bankruptcy index stays in the 50-59 zone: Bankruptcy is a clear and present danger.

ust a short reminder - As Borders filed for bankruptcy couple of months ago, we started looking at Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest book chain to see if they will follow Borders and also go into bankruptcy and if so, when exactly.

To do it more analytically we launched few weeks ago a new B&N Bankruptcy Index, which is based on 10 parameters, which receive a grade between 1-10 (1 - worst grade, 10 - best grade). Hence we receive a 0-100 point index scale, which we divide into several ranges as follows:

90-100: B&N is in an excellent shape. Couldn't be better!

80-89: B&N is doing great. Bankruptcy is no longer a real threat.

70-79: B&N could do better and has to be cautious of bankruptcy.

60-69: B&N doesn't look too good and bankruptcy is becoming a more realistic threat.

50-59: Bankruptcy is a clear and present danger.

49 and less: Red alert! Bankruptcy is just around the corner and is likely to happen within a short time frame.

We will check the
B&N Bankruptcy Index every Thursday, updating each one of the parameters included in the index and will analyze the trend. You can follow the weekly changes in the index from the day it was launched on the Barnes and Noble Bankruptcy Index page on our website.
So here's our update for this week (in brackets is last week's grade):

1. Confidence of the stock market in B&N
This parameter will look at the performan
ce of the B&N stock (symbol: BKS) in the last week. The performance of B&N's stock is an indication of the confidence the market has in the ability of B&N to maintain a viable business.

So let's look at last week's figures (for consistency we look at results from Wed. 6/15 to Tue. 6/21):

6/15: $19.90
6/21: $18.94
Change: -4.82%

As you can see, B&N's stock lost 4.82%
last week. Just for comparison, Amazon gained 4.44% last week and the S&P500 Index went up 2.38%.

B&N's stock did well in the last couple of weeks and only fell sharply (about 6%) yesterday following the release of the 4Q report. We'll have to see how the market will digest this report and react to the relatively negative comments from analysts following the report.

This wee's grade is staying the same: 5 (5)

2. What analysts say on B&N
"Although store revenue fell, revenue from other sectors rose. Online revenue rose 54 percent to $217.3 million and college bookstore revenue rose 4 percent to $211.2 million.The revenue results show the diverging trends in book retail -- physical store sales fell while online sales rose. But the two aren't as separate as they may appear, said Simba Information senior trade analyst Michael Norris. "The physical stores are the cyclists shielding the team leader from the wind," he said. "There's no way on this planet that would have grown as much as it did without the bookstores performing as Nook showrooms for the past year." (Yahoo! Finance)

"The bookseller, which suspended its dividend this year to conserve cash, has been using its profits to invest in e-books and its Nook digital reading devices as sales of paper books falter. That helped attract interest from John Malone’s Liberty Media, which offered $17 a share for the bookseller last month. “They’re spending a huge amount of money developing a reader that people are afraid is going to go the way of the VHS tape or the CD,” Bill Kavaler, an analyst at Oscar Gruss & Son Inc. in New York, said in an interview. Kavaler recommends investors sell the shares." (Bloomberg)

"The company has had to ramp up spending on marketing on product development to stay competitive with Inc. (AMZN), whose Kindle is the top selling e-reader, according to Michael Souers, an analyst for Standard & Poor’s in New York. The Nook is “the only driver of long-term growth and they have to establish that niche,” said Souers, who recommends holding Barnes & Noble shares." (Bloomberg)

The market sentiment looks negative after the release of the fourth quarter report - analysts don't like the fact that B&N put all its eggs in the competitive e-book basket. Therefore our grade goes down by half a point: 5 (5.5)

3. New strategy to regain sales in the brick and mortar stores
Just like Borders, B&N still doesn't have yet a clear and comprehensive strategy that will transform their brick and mortar stores from a liability back to an asset. This is also one the reasons their stores keep losing money - Sales at Barnes & Noble stores open at least one year fell by 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter, ended April 30.

Right now all they have is selling more toys and games - CEO Lynch predicted toys and games will become "a very sizeable business for us within a reasonably short time horizon." This doesn't seem to be a very viable strategy to me, as

For all of those at B&N and outside the company who think the brick and mortar stores don't matter so much, especially now when Liberty’s chairman, John Malone has indicated that his primary interest in Barnes & Noble is its Nook e-reader, I'd like to quote again here Michael Norris, an analyst of Simba Information, who said following yesterday's report:

"The physical stores are the cyclists shielding the team leader from the wind," he said. "There's no way on this planet that would have grown as much as it did without the bookstores performing as Nook showrooms for the past year." (Yahoo! Finance)

This week's grade stays the same: 3.5 (3.5)

4. What B&N is saying about itself
Barnes & Noble said yesterday it is reviewing Liberty Media’s offer, the first bid disclosed publicly since the company put itself up for sale in August. B&N said that while the offer is being considered, earnings projections for fiscal 2012 won’t be announced.

This week's grade stays the same: 6 (6)

5. Steps B&N is taking
No new steps were reported on the report. Apparently B&N won't do anything significant until it will be sold to John Malone if the bid will proceed as planned, even after the release of the 4Q results.

This week's grade stays the same:
6 (6)

6. Competitors
According to Yahoo! Finance, B&N said yesterday results were hurt by Borders' liquidation sales at 200 of its stores. Longer term, however, Barnes & Noble expects to benefit from the store closings. CFO Joseph Lombardi said in areas where a Borders store has closed, nearby Barnes & Nobles are recording revenue increases in stores open at least one year.

Also, it is reported there that
"analysts have speculated over the possibility of some combination of Borders and Barnes & Noble as the industry consolidates. But Lombardi dispelled that idea. He said in a statement that over the past 5 years, before Borders filed for bankruptcy court protection, Barnes & Noble considered buying it "many times" but always came to the conclusion it wasn't interested. "We are still not interested," he said."

This week's grade stays the same:
5 (5)

7. Financial strength

Barnes & Noble released its fourth quarter report yesterday, and as the NYT wrote, it wasn’t pretty. "The company lost $59 million in the quarter, or $1.04 a share. Analysts on average had expected a smaller loss of 91 cents a share. Despite a rise in revenue, thanks to higher online and digital sales, Barnes & Noble was hurt by the liquidation of more than 200 Borders stores as part of that retailer’s bankruptcy. Sales at Barnes & Noble stores open at least one year fell by 2.9 percent in the quarter."

If you compare the results to last year's results, it doesn't look any better - B&N's net loss was $59.4 million, or $1.04 per share, for the three months ended April 30, 2011. A year ago B&N reported a net loss of $32 million, or 58 cents per share for the three months ended April 30, 2010.

This is not a good news from a financial strength perspective and therefore our grade goes does by half a point: 6 (6.5)

8. Strength of the digital business

Although store revenue fell in the fourth quarter, online revenue rose 54 percent to $217.3 million. CEO William Lynch said B&N estimates e-books added 1%-2% to its U.S. market share, bring its total to 26%-27%.

Barnes & Noble also said in its report that its Nook sales continued to improve. The company introduced a new $139 Nook last month in an effort to boost its share of the growing e-book market and also offers a NookColor for $249.

This week's grade goes up by half a point
: 8.5 (8)

9. Sense of urgency
It looks like B&N still think they have time and are not worried at all, especially after they received a proposal from Liberty Media to acquire the company. They might be right because after John Malone will buy the company he's the one who will need to handle these problems. Yet, the purchase hasn't been completed yet and even if Malone will purchase the company, I'm sure it is the best interest of B&N to ensure the company reaches its next phase of operations in the best condition possible.

This week's grade stays the same: 5.5 (5.5)

10. General feeling
This parameter will be an indication of our impression of all the materials read and analyzed for this index. Our feeling that things are still not looking too good for B&N even with the offer they have from Malone - their current strategy of putting all their bets on the digital front is very risky given the fact B&N is still mainly a brick and mortar company. Yesterday's report presents this risk and its results very clearly.

This week's grade for this parameter stays the same
: 5 (5)

This week's Barnes & Noble Bankruptcy Index: 55.5 points (56)

As you can see, this week's index is set at 55.5 points, which means B&N is getting deeper into the 50-59 zone: Bankruptcy is a clear and present danger. It's still not the red zone but it means that bankruptcy is getting closer and is becoming a real threat to B&N. See you next Thursday.

To view the weekly changes in the index visit Barnes and Noble Bankruptcy Index on our website.

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

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Working to green the book industry!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is Nick Sherry right about the death of bookstores within five years?

Nick Sherry, the Australian minister for small businesses started an uproar after predicting that "in five years, other than a few speciality bookshops in capital cities, you will not see a bookstore. They will cease to exist because of what's happening with internet-based, web-based distribution."

His comments, as the Guardian reported, followed the collapse of Australia's largest bookseller, Angus & Robertson, and Australian high street chain Borders earlier this year. Still, Sherry got many book lovers and bookstore owners angry, but is there a chance he might be right, and as much as we hate to hear it, this is the future we're heading to?

I write here extensively about the challenges of brick and mortar bookstores and about the fact that both large retailers (B&N, Borders) and indies haven't found yet the right strategy to bring customers back to the stores. So you might guess I wasn't surprised to hear Sherry's remark. Still I was curious to see what arguments were made against his prediction as I thought they might be a good indicator whether he has a point or not.

So let's look at some of the arguments made against Sherry's prediction:

1. Joel Becker, chief executive of the Australian Booksellers Association, said he was "gobsmacked" at the "extraordinarily unhelpful" remarks, and had written to the minister asking him to explain himself. "It's an industry that's obviously going through changes, and we're responding to those changes by working out ways for even the smallest bookstores to go online and sell ebooks; we've been doing it so far without any support from the government," he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

2. Jon Page, president of the ABA and a bookseller at Sydney's Pages and Pages, insisted on Twitter that "we are not a dead or dying industry". There is "still a place for an independent that services their local community", said Page, telling the SMH that Sherry had shown "a distinct lack of understanding about the Australian book industry".

3. Daniel Jordan, managing director of Collins Booksellers, also dismissed the comment, stating: “To assume that bricks-and-mortar retailing won’t exist in five years is just plain wrong.”

4. Shadow Small Business Minister Bruce Billson also slammed Sherry’s comment, describing the minister as a “prophet of doom”. “Senator Sherry’s defeatist and demoralising commentary adds insult to the injury of his lack of support for retailing as small business adapts and innovates to respond to market trends and difficult trading conditions,” Billson said in a statement.

5. Page has had the same response in his Mosman store, and says it started in February when RedGroup Retail, the parent company of Borders and Angus and Robertson, called in administrators. ''Ever since the collapse of the RedGroup, customers have been coming into my bookshop asking if I am going to close, too,'' he told me yesterday. ''The minister's comments have been very damaging because they have reinforced in some customers' minds the idea that bookshops are on the way out.''

My impression from all these arguments and comments is that they don't really challenge Sherry's assumptions. They don't show in any way how the future of bookstores can be different from the one Sherry predicts and how bookstores can fight back online stores and be relevant to e-book consumers. His prediction might be unpleasant and even wrong in terms of timeframe, but it still important to be aware of this possibility, especially given the fact that we see so many bookstores closing and as we see from Borders' case, even the large retailers are not immune.

Bottom line: Let's not shoot the messenger. It won't help the future of bookstores even a bit.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 best green ebooks for Father's Day!

We're back again with our weekly ten recommendations on green ebooks, and today we have a special list of book recommendations for Father's Day, which is celebrated today in the U.S.

Yes, if you haven't bought your father anything yet and he has an e-reader and would enjoy a good book on a green topic, a green ebook can be a great option! The list is including ebooks on a varied list of green topics,
which we think will suit different types of dads. We hope your dad is one of them and that you will find this list helpful!

The links of these ebooks are to and I apologize in advance to all the Nook, iPad, Kobo and Sony Reader owners. I hope you can easily find an ebook you'll like on other ebookstores. This is also the place to disclose that we're taking part in Amazon's affiliate program and therefore will receive a small percentage of every purchase made using these links. We hope you don't mind! You can find all the lists published so far on our recommended green ebooks webpage (see examples at the bottom of this post).

Without further ado, here's this week's list of 10 recommended green e-books for Father's Day:

1. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes Abo by Colin Beavan - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (April 1, 2010)

2. Off the Grid: Inside the Movement for More Space, Less Government, and True Independence in Modern America by Nick Rosen - Penguin (July 27, 2010)

3. Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben - Times Books (April 13, 2010)

4. The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers: An Unconventional Memoir (P.S.) by Josh Kilmer-Purcell - Harper Collins, Inc. (June 1, 2010)

5. Living Like Ed: A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life by Ed Begley Jr. - Crown (March 25, 2008)

6. Confessions of a Radical Industrialist: Profits, People, Purpose--Doing Business by Respecting the Earth by Robin White and Ray Anderson - St. Martin's Press (April 1, 2010)

7. The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (Process Self-reliance Series) by Kelly Coyne - Process (June 1, 2008)

8. Sustainable Value by Chris Laszlo - Greenleaf Publishing (March 7, 2011)

9. Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman - Picador (April 1, 2010)

10. Boiling Point by Karen Dionne - Jove (December 28, 2010)

More recommended green ebooks lists:

Best ebooks for green entrepreneurs

Best green marketing ebooks

Best green business ebooks

See you next week!

Happy Father's Day,

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The book "DRIVEN! Remembrance, Reflection, & Revelation" has joined the 100 trees project!

We're happy to update you that the book "DRIVEN! Remembrance, Reflection, & Revelation", John Elliott Churchville’s autobiographical account of key aspects of his life, his reflection on these, and his revelation of a future where social justice is global normative behavior, has just joined the "100 Trees Project"!

This joint program was launched by Infinity Publishing, a leading self-publishing company together with Eco-Libris to promote environmental sustainability among its authors. Through the program, authors that publish with Infinity are able to plant 100 trees for the title they publish. These authors also have the option to add a special "100 trees planted for this book" logo to their book's design, as a way to showcase their commitment to environmental sustainability.

What's this book is about?

Driven! is John Elliott Churchville’s autobiographical account of key aspects of his life. He begins with an abbreviated memoir that highlights critical moments from his past, and examines the overarching themes that have been central to his personal development. He then reflects on important elements of those moments as they have impacted his present world-view. Finally, he shares the biblical Revelation, as well as his own, for the future. His thoughts are not of doom and gloom. Rather, they forecast a world where oppression is a faded memory and social justice is the international behavior understood and practiced by everyone.

About the author:
John Elliott Churchville, Ph.D., is Senior Pastor at Liberation Fellowship Church of Jesus, Chairman/CEO of Liberation Fellowship Community Development Corporation, President of the Greater Germantown Business Association, a principal in the Churchville Triad Group, LLC (a leadership training consulting firm), and a practicing attorney admitted to the Pennsylvania and federal bars. He is an environmental justice advocate, HIV prevention and treatment activist, and sustainable community development thought leader.

In addition, Dr. Churchville is leading an effort to convert an abandoned nationally certified historic building into a multi-use, LEED-certified community facility using best practices in historic preservation and energy-efficient design.

DRIVEN! Remembrance, Reflection, & Revelation is available for sale on Infinity's website.

Other books on the
"100 Trees Project":

The Last Original Idea: A Cynic's View to Internet Marketing by Alan K'necht and Geri Rockstein

Buffalo on the Ridge by Deanna Meyer

What Love Is...A-Z by by Elle Febbo

Raven Wings and 13 More Twisted Tales

Ishift- Innovation Shift

Good Management is Not Firefighting

Play on Words

This is Your Brain on God

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My article on Triple Pundit on the elimination of the automatic delivery of white pages in California

I'd like to update you on a new article I published today on Triple Pundit entitled "California Stops Automatic Delivery of White Pages. Will Yellow Pages be Next?":

Here's the first paragraph of the article:

Last Thursday California joined a unique book club, which already includes 16 other states. This book club doesn’t celebrate the release of new books, but actually promotes the disappearance of one. This is still a celebration because we’re talking about a book that is redundant and wasteful, and yet about 6 million Californians receive a new copy of it every year without being asked if they want or need it. If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re talking about the White Pages.

To read the full article go to

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Plant trees for your books!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another victory for Greenpeace - Mattel instructs its suppliers to stop sourcing pulp from APP!

Environmental Leader reported earlier today that "Mattel has pledged to create a sustainable procurement policy and directed suppliers to put a freeze on purchases from Asia Pulp & Paper, following Greenpeace protests over the origin of its packaging."

Mattel wrote on its Facebook page: "We know deforestation is an important issue. It is to us as well. Today we announced the development of a Sustainable Procurement Policy for all of Mattel’s product lines. This policy will require packaging suppliers to commit to sustainable forestry management practices."

Mattel also referred on this page directly to APP:

"Today Mattel launched an investigation into deforestation allegations. While Mattel does not contract directly with Sinar Mas/APP, we have directed our packaging suppliers to stop sourcing pulp from them as we investigate the allegations."

This announcement added Mattel to a growing list of companies that stopped making business with APP, either directly or indirectly following Greenpeace campaigns against APP in the past. These companies include Carrefour , Tesco, Kraft, Nestlé and Unilever. When I asked Ian Lifshitz, Sustainability & Public Outreach Manager at APP, about it in an interview we conducted with him last year, he replied:

APP is a brand umbrella for paper products manufactured by several pulp and paper companies in Indonesia and China. APP operates independently from PT. SMART Tbk's palm oil with different entities, management and shareholders.

Despite the circulating rumours started by the GP report, overall volume of APP products to customers has not been impacted upon. Most our associates know that these rumours are unfounded.

Greenpeace by the way doesn't see in Mattel's announcement the end of story - they wrote on their blog that "Mattel’s latest statement, released on Friday in the US, suggests that the company now recognises it has a deforestation problem. However, it isn’t out of the woods yet and the company must provide more details and clear timelines to show that they are serious about dealing with these issues."

APP's response? According to Environmental Leader,
APP responded to the Greenpeace allegations, saying in part, “Greenpeace’s allegation that it found mixed tropical hardwood fibers in some products that we might have produced is meaningless. Indonesia’s pulpwood land concessions, legally provided by the Government of Indonesia, include some degraded forests, which are required by law to be developed into plantations…"

We'll keep you posted with any further developments in this story.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Planting trees for your books!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why Amazon rejected a shareholder decision to disclose how it deals with climate change?

Last Tuesday Amazon's shareholders rejected on their annual meeting a resolution calling the company to prepare and publish a report describing how is assessing the impact of climate change on the corporation.

This resolution was This resolution was filed by Calvert Investments, one of the largest sustainable and responsible investment companies in the U.S. and we also helped in the preparation of this resolution.

Why Calvert filed this resolution? Because as a shareholder it sees climate change in terms of risks and opportunities that Amazon can’t and shouldn’t ignore any longer. Rebecca Henson, sustainability analyst at Calvert, explained it to Seattle Times:

"We own this company and want it to do well, so we wouldn't want any poor performance to come from the release of a document. We just think it's something that would be beneficial and could save money in the long run."

Amazon's shareholders rejected the measure mainly because Amazon was opposing it. Why Amazon opposed it? Well, according to Seattle Times "Amazon opposed the measure, saying that preparing a climate-change report would not be "an efficient use of time and resources."

I think this is a poor reply and definitely not the one you can and should expect from Amazon. We're talking about a company that in the same shareholder meeting reported on $34.2 billion sales and $2.5 billion free cash flow.

Now, how much it costs to prepare the report Calvert was asking for? If Amazon would use the format offered by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), which is used by 70 percent of S&P 500 companies that unlike Amazon disclose their emissions, then it would be about $80,000 (65% of the companies surveyed by CDP are spending up to £50,000 on reporting greenhouse gas emissions). Let's say for the sake of arguments that it would be $100,000 because Amazon is a large company.

$100,000 are 0.004% of Amazon's free cash flow. In other words it is such a marginal expense, Amazon wouldn't even notice it. Actually, according to the CDP, most companies believe the benefits of reporting outweigh the costs, so there's a good chance it won't even be an expense at the end, but a profitable investment.

It's not just Calvert and I that are positive that climate change represents material risks and opportunities that should be assessed and considered accordingly. A growing number of investors understand that climate change is influencing every business and ignoring it equals poor management of their money.

Only yesterday climate change investor groups published a report on global investor practices relating to climate change, and according to their press release "the majority consider climate change a material investment risk/opportunity and incorporate climate change risk assessments into their existing investments; public policy a key driver of investment decisions". This report is based on survey responses from 44 asset owners and 46 asset managers with collective assets totalling more than $12trillion.

Unfortunately the majority of the shareholders of Amazon doesn't see it this way and chose last Tuesday to follow the company's position against a measure that even doesn't propose to take action, but only to prepare a climate change assessment.

For a company involved in the manufacturing and sale of the Kindle, providing web services, relying on data centers and using shipping it just doesn't make sense. Not to mention the fact that Amazon is a company that is proud in making decisions based on “long-term market leadership considerations rather than short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions”. We hope that Jeff Bezos and Amazon will understand it eventually, not just for the sake of the environment, but also for the sake of the company's future success.

More related articles:

Why Amazon Needs to Come Clean About its Carbon Footprint - Triple Pundit

Why Amazon is so hush hush about the Kindle's sales figures and footprint?

Dear Jeff Bezos, please make Kindle the greenest e-reader

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

10 best ebooks on sustainable food!

We're back again with our weekly ten recommendations on green ebooks!

This week I prepared a list of book recommendations on one of my favorite topics - sustainable food .

This list is based on my personal preferences - some of them are relatively old, but I still find them relevant and valuable.

The links of these ebooks are to and I apologize in advance to all the Nook, iPad, Kobo and Sony Reader owners. I hope you can easily find an ebook you'll like on other ebookstores. This is also the place to disclose that we're taking part in Amazon's affiliate program and therefore will receive a small percentage of every purchase made using these links. We hope you don't mind!
You can find all the lists published so far on our recommended green ebooks webpage (see examples at the bottom of this post).

Without further ado, here's this week's list of 10 recommended green e-books on sustainable food:

1. The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love by Kristin Kimball - Scribner (October 12, 2010)

2. Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All by Oran Hesterman - PublicAffairs (May 31, 2011)

3. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan - Penguin (January 1, 2008)

4. The Seasons on Henry's Farm: A Year of Food and Life on a Sustainable Farm by Terra Brockman and Deborah Madison - Agate Surrey (April 28, 2010)

5.Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It by Karl Weber and Participant Media - PublicAffairs (May 5, 2009)

6. Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter - Penguin (June 11, 2009)

7. The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food by Ben Hewitt - Rodale (March 16, 2010)

8. Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered by Woody Tasch - Chelsea Green Publishing (November 12, 2008)

9. Food Matters by Mark Bittman - Simon & Schuster (December 30, 2008)

10. Farmer Jane by Temra Costa - Gibbs-Smith (July 29, 2010)

More recommended green ebooks lists:

Best ebooks for green entrepreneurs

Best green marketing ebooks

Best green business ebooks

See you next week!


Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Greenpeace is using Ken and Barbie to protest against Mattel's relationship with APP

What do you think of Barbie? Well, no matter what you have in mind, Greenpeace has news for you:

"Barbie has a nasty deforestation habit - she is trashing rainforests in Indonesia, including areas that are home to some of the last tiger, orang-utans and elephants, just so she can wrap herself in pretty packaging."

Apparently, Ken wasn't aware of it either:

Greenpeace started this campaign against Mattel, the manufacturer of Barbie, accusing it in contributing to deforestation in Indonesia "by using paper packaging for the world's most famous toy from Indonesia's most notorious rainforest destroyer Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)."

Not only that Greenpeace calls supporters to tell Mattel to stop destroying rainforests for toy packaging, but they also extended the protest to Mattel HQ, as our friend, Ralf Skar reported on Greenpeace USA website:

"Wearing baby blue formal wear, Ken and a few buddies paid a visit to the Mattel HQ in Los Angeles today. And, by ‘pay a visit’, I mean they climbed on top of the building, strapped on climbing gear, dangled off the roof outside the windows of awe-struck employees, and hung a 2,500 square foot banner reading “It’s OVER” for Barbie to see. I guess you could say the guy has a flair for the dramatic."

You can see photos of the protest at Mattel HQ on Greenpeace's flickr page.

More articles on Greenpeace and APP:

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

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

APP - good or bad? An interview with the sustainability manager of the world's most controversial paper company

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Love reading? Have a big book library? Check our monthly subscription option!

I'd like to remind you with a great option that is available on our website - monthly subscription.

If you have a big library at home and you want to green it up one bookshelf or bookcase at a time, balancing out 5 or 10 books every month on regular basis, can be a good fit for you.

The process is very easy and similar to one-time purchase: On
the subscription page you choose how many books you want to balance out each month. Then just click on the 'Buy' bottom and complete the payment process on the PayPal page. That's it.

Then, every month we'll balance out for you the number of books you chose by planting trees in developing countries with our planting partners. You will receive a confirmation email from PayPal following each monthly payment, and of course you will also receive our stickers on monthly basis.

And that's not all, if you're also a member at, you will receive 1 bookmooch point for every 10 books you balance out!

If and when you'll decide that you want to suspend your subscription, you will be able to do it easily and quickly on PayPal website.

We are very happy to offer this option to all the eco-conscious readers out there who want to green up many of their books but want to do gradually.
If you have any questions about the subscription option, please feel free to email me at: raz [at] ecolibris [dot] net.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: Promoting sustainable reading!