Puddletown Publishing Group

Archive for the ‘Renee LaChance’ Category

Happy Earth Day!

In Renee LaChance on April 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm

It is a great day to discuss the sustainability of ebooks versus paper books. And an even better day to reveal how the Dead Tree Press can become more sustainable and save billions of dollars by making one change to its business model.

The most often quoted study on ereader sustainability was released by Cleantech Group. Cleantech Group is a provider of market intelligence and insight on sustainable issues. Basically, Cleantech Group sets industry standards. In August 2009 they released a life cycle analysis of Amazon’s Kindle.

The report, authored by Emma Ritch, forecasts that ereaders purchased from 2009 to 2012 could prevent 5.3 billion kg of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 9.9 billion kg during the four-year time period.

These are staggering numbers. That is equal to the average carbon dioxide emissions of one million U.S. households. One million.

But the astute reader will notice the word “could.” The reality is Ritch’s numbers hinge on the publishing industry decreasing production of paper books. This is happening as ebooks begin to outsell paper books, but paper books are not going to be replaced completely by ebooks.

Over the past week I have looked at data, studied statistics, and looked at numbers in ways that would numb the brain of the mathphobic. Don’t worry, I am not going to bore you with all that. I can distill all that data down to one change the traditional publishing industry can make to eliminate billions of pounds of CO2. One change to the Dead Tree Press business model that will save billions of dollars per year and would save the industry and the booksellers dependent on it.

It is so simple. No returns.

It started during the Great Depression. A desperate New York publisher told bookstores you can return whatever you don’t sell. It caught on until it became standard practice and continues to this day.

The practice causes publishers to overprint titles, warehouse them, and dump them if the book doesn’t sell. A 2006 Green Press Initiative report says one billion books per year go to landfills due to this practice. Not even recycled. One billion. That’s crazy. That is waste this planet cannot afford. Waste of resources, waste of dollars, waste of lives. I am not the first to notice this.

Any rational business person can see the error of this business model. Epublishers, like Puddletown Publishing Group, use a model of print on demand. Not only do we provide books digitally, we also have print on demand editions that are custom made when you purchase them. We don’t print them until we sell them.

The inconvenient truth is, ebooks aren’t killing the publishing industry and bookstores, it is the outdated business model of returns. It is not a sustainable practice and it needs to change. Booksellers should demand that publishers eliminate returns. This would revolutionize the book industry and make it sustainable for the planet and for the bottom line for decades to come. It seems so simple but it is not convenient.

It won’t happen unless consumers demand it. Ask your favorite bookstore to embrace the point of no returns. Then go hug some dirt, it’s Earth Day.

Kermit said it first

In Renee LaChance on April 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Technically, whoever wrote for Kermit said it first, “It’s not easy being green.”

Reduce, reuse, recycle: it is tattooed on my cerebral cortex. I cannot make a buying decision or throw anything into the trash before considering the three R’s. I have been living a green lifestyle since before green became the color of environmental responsibility. Before Al Gore preached the gospel of an inconvenient truth.

In the 70s and 80s you had to haul your paper, metal and plastic to designated recycling centers. No curbside pick-up. So I hauled mine, my office’s and newspapers I gathered from neighbors.

When I had a motel on the Oregon coast, I hauled recyclable materials 20 miles to the nearest recycling center.

It isn’t easy being green, but I have always felt a moral imperative to reduce my personal impact on the Earth and I have sacrificed convenience.

When I decided to help found Puddletown Publishing Group, questions about the environmental impact of ereaders and ebooks tickled the back of my brain.

Sure there were the obvious advantages of ebooks versus paper books. Less paper means fewer trees lost to the process. But what about the materials used to make ereaders? What about the manufacturing process? How are they recycled? Who is involved? What are they made of? Where do the materials come from? When does the benefit to the environment pay off?

Between now and Earth Day— April 22— the journalist in me will probe the who, what, when, where and how regarding the sustainability of ereaders and ebooks. Check back for the answers, they may surprise you.

It may not be easy being green, but I think it would be harder to be a frog.

27 days and counting

In Renee LaChance on January 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Susan does a great job relaying the birth of the Puddletown Publishing Group notion. I feel compelled to talk a little about what kept me from doing it years ago.

My best friend works at a bookstore and ebooks threaten the security of her job. I felt I would be going to the darkside to build a business in an industry that could devastate booksellers, and my friend’s livelihood. (Okay, full disclosure, I am a Leo. Predisposed to extreme loyalty and the belief that we have control over everything in the world.)

I realized, at the birth of our great notion, that ebooks and print books are not mutually exclusive. Combine ebooks with print on demand, and booksellers can order copies and sell them as well.

These 27 days have been a wild ride. My publishing experience is old and ebook technology is a huge learning curve for me. My old Just Out crew is probably laughing out loud because they dragged me kicking and screaming into the desktop publishing age.

Ebooks are the same thing — digital format that can be printed on demand or published for digital readers. This is a good fit for me. It utilizes old school publishing with new school technology and meets the sustainable criteria that steers my decisions. Fewer trees are killed in the process since books are not warehoused, they are printed as needed.

Though ebooks have been around for over a decade, the technology to read them had not gone mainstream until just this year. Add to the Kindle the release of Apple’s iPad and the NOOKcolor, and ebook sales are rumbling to tsunami status. Sales of ebooks are outpacing hardcover sales at Amazon and paperback sales at Barnes and Noble.

I remain committed to partnering ebooks with brick and mortar bookstores. I think print on demand (POD) is the answer.

That New Year’s after party where 2011 was still a brand new baby full of possibilities, the question evolved from “why do ebooks?” to “why aren’t you doing ebooks?” and I didn’t have a good answer.