In early 2003, I decided to try my best to stop buying books made from trees. Living in a city where independent booksellers proudly sell used books, and knowing that online booksellers let used bookstores sell through their sites, this lifestyle choice wasn’t too hard to make. But the early buzz around J.K. Rowling’s “Order of the Phoenix” grew louder, and I didn’t want to wait months for a used copy to turn up. I then researched Rowling’s use tree-free paper for that book.
I was astonished to discover that Canada was the only country, out of 22, that would print the hardback version on 100% tree-free paper. I instantly wrote J.K. Rowling and published a simple page on this site urging fans to write her about this. I also urged fans to buy the Canadian version, and proudly bragged about my Canadian version (which I bought via Amazon.ca).
I also called several local independent bookstores requesting the Canadian version and they all stated that they couldn’t stock that version. I called Powell’s Books, a huge Portland, OR store with online presence, requesting the recycled book, and they couldn’t stock it either. Due to copyright laws, the Canadian version couldn’t be sold in the USA. Finally, I e-mailed several progressive paper companies urging them to pressure J.K. Rowling to go green.
Canadian publisher Raincoast boldly promoted their successful use of “ancient forest-friendly” paper for their 2003 run. According to their Web site, Raincoast sold 6 million copies of “Order of the Phoenix.” When that number compares to the 195 million in total Harry Potter sales, in 200 countries, then one can see the alarms that go off with regards to the loss of trees for printing Harry Potter books.
But that success, with eventual prodding of the author, sucessfully tipped Rowling into the conservation camp. The Markets Initiative and the Green Press Initiative have recently created substantial pressure to make author’s print their books with green inks and papers, and Rowling seemed to be an easy convert. According to Greenpeace UK, “JK Rowling is one of 16 UK authors who have pledged to print their future books on ‘ancient forest friendly’ paper as part of the Greenpeace Book Campaign, launched last year.”
Initial research shows that some of the upcoming “Half Blood Prince” will be printed on varying percentages of recycled paper, but that is an improvement from past books. Raincoast has rights to Canadian paperback reprints as well, and Rowling’s promise will hopefully cover all those millions of reprints that will go into future circulation internaitonally. And hopefully this is the beginning of a trend for popular authors.
My thanks go out to the activists and business people with the resources and vision to save the trees that are the lungs of Earth. I look forward to buying my new Harry Potter book, down the street, on recycled paper. If you have the time, please take a moment to write J.K. Rowling and thank her for making a great decision (make sure you use recycled paper to do so):
c/o Bloomsbury Publishing
38 Soho Square
London W1V 5DF