I’m perusing the catalogs again to get ready for appointments. One obvious trend I’ve noticed across the board is a movement toward “green”, be it living green, thinking green, buying green. Often the title will be something like So-and-So’s Awesome Guide to Living/Thinking/Working/Loving Green. The catalog page will have a big dot that says “Printed on Recycled Paper!” This reminds me of a Simpsons episode where they’re touring the Springfield Shopper factory and Lindsay Naegle says that a percentage of each newspaper is printed on recycled paper. Lisa, spotting some phony business-speak, asks what percent and Naegle’s response is zero. “Zero’s a percent!”
It’s not that I’m against the green movement. It’s more that I’m wary of the way in which companies are now marketing towards this movement, as if simply buying something “green” will make you a better consumer. Replacing everything in your house with organic products won’t make you more environmental. People should try and do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint especially those in the US and Europe. Read Jared Diamond’s Op-Ed piece about first world countries’ consumption factor which is 32 times higher than the third world.
This all sort of goes against what I do for a living, selling a product based on chopping down trees. I’d like to see the publishers move to printing all books on recycled paper. Also, they should print fewer galleys and quit sending so much wasteful marketing materials—posters. pins, bookmarks—that end up in the trash anyway. I’m not sure how to go about making this happen.
The good folks at KNOPF sent along coffee (brew up some PLAIN HEATHEN MISCHIEF) and T-shirts with my last novel, and I got the impression folks really enjoyed both. Of course, when I mentioned the coffee, people would say, “oh, that was for YOUR book–I didn’t make the connection.” At least it didn’t wind up in the trash…Best for 2008–Martin Clark
I get so many useless marketing things all the time. The titles of the quickly forgotten books, seem to resurface every day on a pink post-it pad sent by a publisher here, or a hideous and outrageously expensive laminate bookmark there. I think the publishers are way behind in their sense of how to appropriately market a book. I keep wondering if a simple letter, signed by as many booksellers as possible and addressed to the publicity folks at the publishing houses would get them to stop wasting so much on these materials and sending fewer, but more valuable materials to us. Then maybe we can move on to recycled paper . . .
Wary indeed. Jared Diamond’s Op-Ed calls for consumers to redude waste and consumption, but I don’t think consumers are going to wake up and do so. Afterall, it’s marketing that largely drives consumer behavior, and marketing ploys like these are not telling people to consume less.
Maybe Kindle will change the world. Or, maybe not. Personally I’d like to reduce waste by making credit card companies stop sending me multiple offers *per day* which all go in the bin.
First off, Amen, sister. I hate all the waste that I see pass through this industry. As a person who does marketing, it’s hard to resist the temptation to just keep printing more things. You want to get your name out there, to put it on something that has value, but you can’t spend too much money on something that won’t gain back in sales dollars.
The marketing of books is like this unstoppable juggernaut that can’t change paths because no one has a better idea of how to sell books. We really should put our heads together and find an alternate to publishing galleys, which are wasteful as well as expensive. But so necessary!