I am in New York, NY attending the largest publishing event in North America — BookExpo America (BEA) — “the content and the buzz.” Despite predictions to the contrary, the event is well-attended and fueled with vibrant energy from the exhibitors and participants. One thing that has amazed me about this event is how unconscious it is about consuming the other kind of energy.
Books are precious, not disposable. Publishers throughout the exhibit hall have their authors signing and giving away their books to anyone who lines up for them faster than business cards. How about if instead, publishers reconsidered their marketing strategies and were more judicious about giving away their books to a targeted audience of those who are seriously considering distributing, buying, or licensing the rights to them? It would be better for the environment and better for the authors and artists.
Do we really need or want all this “stuff”? Every booth has freebies to give away to attract those mulling about the exhibit hall to spend more time in the booths. Staplers, candy, sewing kits (no kidding), pads, bags, pens, . . . “stuff” is everywhere. People are walking around with bulging give-away bags full of stuff. Does it really help to propel the industry to a better place? What if the hosts and sponsors of BEA took a stand and said enough is enough, and they encouraged (or demanded) that exhibitors be friendlier to the environment and just show their wares without giving away superfluous “stuff”?
Collateral abounds. On top of the “stuff” there is also reams of paper used to produce all of the collateral materials each exhibitor has at their booth. What if the hosts and sponsors of BEA had guidelines that permitted only small-format collateral (such as bookmarks vs. full sheets of paper)? What if they encouraged (or demanded) that publishers post their catalogs online and direct interested parties to a website vs. hand out paper catalogs?
No place to recycle! At BEA10 there is a lot of paper changing hands, water from bottles being imbibed, containers being disseminated at lunch . . . and at the Jacob K. Javits Center there is not a single place to recycle anything. What if the hosts and sponsors of BEA encouraged (or demanded) that the Jacob K. Javits Center place recycling bins throughout the event and, if they wouldn’t, change the location of the event to a venue that would?
Take a leadership position. As a publisher (and mother) who cares about the environment, I would like to see the North American publishing industry take a stand and commit to being more environmentally friendly. The inspiration could come from reading What Does It Mean To Be Green?, and the initial momentum could come from taking the baby steps I’ve suggested at BEA11.