Monday, May 19, 2008

Digitise the Waste

The greatest area of waste is often where you have to get your product seen. We may well used eco friendly paper, reduce the book miles or even cut back on executive travel but given the sheer number of titles, publishers and third parties waste prevails. Promotion, publicity and marketing, not only burn money but also currently generate more paper. Anyone who receives those glossy publisher and wholesaler’s catalogues, or a constant stream of advanced information sheets, review copies or turns the pages of any trade paper is witness to the waste generated in merely the industry talking to its self.

It is estimated that between 6 and 15% of initial print runs are given away as review, gratis or inspection copies. HarperCollins, reportedly distribute around 100,000 catalogues not once but three times a year. Paper, post and labour waste, that is replicated throughout the industry.

HarperCollins is among a group of major trade publishers who have recently announced that it is planning to convert its publishing catalogues from paper to online and have called the current system both economically and environmentally indefensible. HarperCollins President Jane Friedman in an article in the Associated Press stated, "I think we are overdue. We produce thousands and thousands of catalogues, many of which go right into the wastebaskets."Interestingly, their first class statement on environmental policy posted on their UK web site covers much but says nothing on marketing and promotional waste – perhaps it’s a given.

The question now is will the booksellers respond to the new format or take the traditional route and request a paper catalogue or ignore the ecatlogue and buy elsewhere? We can all see waste but realising the saving is often difficult in a many to many supply chain. Think how long it has taken the industry to move along the obvious supply chain logistics agenda.

Digitisation offers publishing far more than ebooks, audio downloads and online and marketing is one of the big prizes.

Update from Ashley Lodge,Corporate Responsibility Manager,HarperCollins Publishers

"HarperCollins UK stopped its company-wide glossy 4-colour sales catalogues in 2006. Instead they publish a condensed one-colour stocklist on recycled paper twice a year in line with bookseller demands."