Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The new age of publishing - Guest Post by SB Knight

Our week-long event continues with a fascinating guest post by SB Knight who shares his insight on publishing and the environment. If you missed yesterday's Meet & Greet ... never fear ... it will stay open until Friday evening and you can link up HERE.

The new age of publishing!

Printing, publishing, and the process of delivering the written word to readers all over the world has drastically changed. Actually, there are certain milestones throughout history that have greatly impacted the world of writing. Of course it all started with chipping symbols in store and/or painting them. From there we developed ink and the quill. Jump a few years and the world invented the ink pen. Technology took a nap but rebounded with the typewriter. Boy was that an invention. Books were published at a rapid rate by that time. Things did not slow down after that, soon the computer and laptop sprang onto the scene. To complete the leap we now have eBooks and eReaders. What is very sad is even with all of these advances the one thing that trailed behind was the environmental impact. Trees suffer the largest impact from book publishing but other hazards exist from the adhesive used for the binding to the ink used on the pages. Yes, we enjoy reading and although it is not often that books end up in the landfill or burned the true impact to the environment happens on the production side instead of the aftermarket such as we see with so many other items such as cardboard, empty plastic bottles, etc.

That was the bad news. Here is the good news. Technology, commerce, and financial feasibility have collided and a change is being seen in the publishing world. Allow me to get the most obvious out of the way right now. With the popularity of eBooks and eReaders the impact to our forest and trees is decreasing. Some may think that the fact that eBooks must be charged will use more energy but the Kindle, for example, can hold a charge for thirty days easy. That is twelve charges a year. I’m willing to bet that is on par or maybe even less than what a television uses in a year’s time.

With that out of the way let’s move on to the second most obvious jump in environmentally safe processes for publishing books. That would be…say it with me…recycled paper. Now here is a little something about recycled paper; each time paper is processed the fibers that make up the page breaks down which means the paper breaks down and loses quality. You know what I’m talking about, when you get paper at work and it looks flimsy and off white, maybe even a little thin but the package reads that it is recycled. It is recycled but it is recycled with paper products that have been processed a number of times. Publishing companies originally used virgin paper which is processed right from the tree with no added recycled materials. That has changed, Eco-friendly publishing companies use recycled paper with almost a 50/50 split of virgin paper and recycled material. This provides the thickness, crisp color, and paper quality everyone expects from a published book. This greatly cuts down the impact on trees. We may even see the day when there is no virgin paper used at all.

How do we know how much virgin paper and recycled material is actually used? I’m glad you asked. There are certification programs provided through councils and initiatives that track virgin paper use, recycled paper use, deforestation, and protection of regulated forest areas. Here are a few:

  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

Other techniques and processes that lessen the impact on the environment are soy based ink and a process called coldset drying. This process not only saves energy but it greatly reduces pollutants from entering the atmosphere.

As you can see publishing companies have made great strides in reducing their footprints on the environment. I now have a fun assignment for you. What? I heard that groan but trust me, you will enjoy this. Click on the following website and take the quiz (click on ‘click to begin’) http://www.webcomlink.com/enviro/. With each correct answer the tree grows. Once you are done scroll down for more information about all the topics I talked about here. So, what do you think of the environmentally friendly techniques and processes publishing companies are taking? One more thing – how many questions did you get right on the quiz? Be honest.

Thanks to Brian for a wonderful post. I don't know about you ... but I learned a lot! Oh ... and to answer your question, Brian ... I completed the assignment and, thanks to the information you provided, I got all but one question right!

Join us tomorrow when we'll start a brand new "Change The World Wednesday" challenge ... inspired by the release of Brian's debut novel Born of Blood.

Born of Blood by S.B. Knight is available at:
MuseItUp Bookstore

Don't have an eReader device? No problem ... download a free application HERE for use on your computer, iPhone, etc.