Sunday, July 17, 2011

How Print on Demand Could Save the Environment

   The Traveler's Companion is now available in print form from Createspace. I have a real book for sale, which means I'm a real author . . .  er, whatever. I have to thank Createspace for providing this opportunity, it's pretty awesome and its nice to know I'm helping to save the world. It's proof that the market is just as good a tool for protecting the environment as a tree hugger, of which I'm one. Is it possible to be for the free market and a tree hugger? Now it is. We'll call ourselves Free Huggers.
   How are Free Huggers saving the world? POD is one example.
   You've heard of pulp books? After WWII, pulping was a term used for mass market books that were destroyed or returned to the publisher because they weren't selling. Books were sometimes "remaindered" which was when the publisher sold the book at a reduced price, but this was usually reserved for hard cover books--not to say that hardcover books weren't destroyed as well; they were and they still are, and more often than you might think.
   Why did they do this? Back in the forties, there were no Free Huggers and paper was cheap and plentiful--so cheap in fact that it was cheaper to just destroy a book rather than try to keep selling it. Today it's cheaper to destroy the book rather than store it somewhere. If they wanted to keep every book that didn't sell in its first printing, they would need a very big warehouse.
   The pulping process survives to this day. It's now called "stripping." If a book isn't selling, book stores tear off the covers of mass market paperbacks, destroy the book, and send the cover as proof to the publisher that the book was destroyed. (Sometimes the books end up in used book stores or thrift stores, but they aren't supposed to.) To be fair, sometimes destroyed books are recycled for cardboard products, but more often than not they are burned like a Nazi s'more party. If you bought a book without a cover, the author and the publisher received none of the revenue, and no, you can no longer be a Free Hugger.
    How many books are destroyed in this fashion these days? For mass market paperbacks it can be as high as 50-55 percent of books. WOW! For trade imprints, it’s a little lower, more like 35 percent, and for specific imprints like tech books it's about 25 percent, which is still a lot of books.   
   Publishers budget for a certain amount of returns, but one would think, with this much waste, publishers would be quicker to embrace eBooks. What other business plans on destroying more than half of its unsold products? It doesn't make sense!
   With that many books being destroyed, it's just a matter of planetary health that we embrace eBooks or POD. I submit to you that every POD should also come with a Free Hug.
Get your physical, printed, pulpable, and environmentally friendly version of The Traveler's Companion today!

Check out Dave Taylor on the subject:

1 comment:

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