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President’s Message: On Recycling, Rebinding, and More

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Green Publishing Update

As of the first of May, 140 North American publishers, including my Epicenter Press, had made nonbinding pledges to use more recycled paper with increasing percentages of post—consumer content over the next three to five years. We have associated ourselves with the Green Press Initiative (GPI), based in Ann Arbor, MI, and with Markets Initiative, its sister organization in Canada. As some of you may remember, my December column focused on organizations that GPI says seek “to create paper-use transformations that will conserve natural resources and preserve endangered forests.”

Our experience has been an eye-opener. Since the first of the year, we have published one new title and reprinted eight titles on recycled, acid-free text paper with 100 percent post—consumer content (PCC). We found price parity when we went to a recycled sheet for the new title and actually saw small decreases in the cost of the eight reprints. We printed with Transcontinental, one of a growing number of North American printers that stock recycled papers.

According to a list on the Green Press Initiative Web site, the following printers stock recycled papers with at least 30 percent PCC for uncoated text stock and 10 percent PCC for coated and cover stock:

AGM V Marquis; Capital City Press; Edwards Brothers; Friesens; Houghton Boston; Integrated Book Technologies; Lightning Source; Malloy; Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group; McNaughton & Gunn; PA Hutchison; Pinnacle Press; Sheridan; Thomson-Shore; Transcontinental; Vicks Lithograph; Victor Graphics; Webcom Limited

Do you want to make a difference? Here are three ways you can help.

1. Make a commitment. Visit www.greenpressintiative.org to find out more about this organization and to help save endangered forests. If you already are a GPI publisher, recruit at least one other publisher to make a commitment as well.


Send a donation.

Green Press Initiative is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with thin foundation funding. Donations should be made payable to Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs and sent in care of Erin Johnson at the GPI’s administrative office, 15225 Baughman Drive, Silver Spring, MD 20906.

3. Volunteer your time. A few people are trying to do a lot, and they need support. If you or a friend or colleague can spare time to help educate and motivate North American authors, publishers, printers, and paper manufacturers, contact Erin Johnson at 301/438-3927, or email her at erin@greenpressinitiative.org. Let her know what skills you can offer.

Sagebrush Solution Status Report

You may remember the many complaints from independent publishers who discovered their titles on Amazon with new ISBNs listing Sagebrush Educational Resources as the publisher. Sagebrush, a rebinder for the library market for more than 30 years, had been buying books from publishers, rebinding them, and adding new ISBNs. This practice was not new, but confusion and conflict arose when Internet book sales pushed the rebound titles into a broader market, creating situations in which publishers’ original editions faced competition from the Sagebrush editions.

On behalf of its members, PMA protested to Sagebrush about the practice, questioning its legality, and a lengthy negotiation ensued in which PMA was represented by its attorney, Jonathan Kirsch. The upshot was that Sagebrush agreed to seek specific permission. Publishers now have three choices. You can:

1. Give Sagebrush permission to rebind your books by signing and submitting a Rebinding Agreement. Using this alternative, you can give Sagebrush permission to rebind all your titles or selected certain titles, and you can provide the ISBNs or allow Sagebrush to provide them.

2. Decline to give to Sagebrush Corp. permission to rebind your titles.

3. Work with Sagebrush in a manufacturing relationship in which you ship paperback books to it for rebinding and it shops them back to you or drop-ships to the distributor you choose.

If you have not done so already, please visit www.pma-online.org to read the Sagebrush FAQs and download the simple, two-page Sagebrush Rebinding Agreement. Then complete and submit the agreement, no matter which alternative you want.

Author Signings Alert

I was surprised and disappointed recently to hear of a bookstore in San Francisco that has begun charging publishers to book author signings. I recognize that independent bookstores face challenges in the marketplace, but this is a bad idea because it threatens to erode support by independent publishers for independent booksellers, and vice versa. I hope publishers will resist this practice. If you have encountered it and/or have an opinion about it, please email me at gksturgis@earthlink.net.

Words of Wisdom

When valuable observations about self-publishing and book marketing didn’t fit into recent columns, I saved them to share with you:

“Never expect a call back. Self-publishing demands that you assume the mentality of a stalker. If that makes you uncomfortable, you should take a more traditional route to getting your book published.”

Suzanne Bush, Imagining Possibilities, LCC

“Anyone can publish a book. However, I wasn’t prepared for the amazingly difficult job of marketing. A lot of businesses have been created to make money at the new author’s and publisher’s expense. My suggestion to newcomers is to become knowledgeable about book marketing, or hire a competent marketing manager.”

Nita Howard, Nita Lina LLC


Correction: My apologies to Bill Fessler of Primer Publishers and Jan Louthain of Alexie Books. In my April column about solo publishers, I inadvertently attributed to Bill a quote from Jan. Sorry, guys.


As always, I welcome your comments and ideas for PMA–on any subject. Please contact me at gksturgis@earthlink.net.

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