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mx222
01-11-2014, 10:20 AM
I just wanted to know if there were any eco-friendly autopublishing or book printing solutions out there? (aside from e-books of course :) ) Thanks

Old Hack
01-11-2014, 08:26 PM
Autopublishing?

Are you asking us if there are any eco-friendly digital printers? I think that might be what you're after.

I know that many printing companies have hugely improved the impact that printing has on the world: but most of that work that I'm aware of has been done with regard to the content of printing ink, the efficiency of shipping product from printer to customer, and so on--and all the stuff I know about is to do with offset printing, not digital.

I'm not sure about the eco-friendliness of digital printing. It can't be set up any way but one, and it's relatively new technology so there hasn't been a decent amount of time for it to improve. I hope a few other people will chime in here, but you've asked such a specific question that I think you're going to need to get some very specialist advice to get the information you're looking for.

Polenth
01-11-2014, 11:39 PM
Lightning Source uses FSC paper for their POD. They have a page about it here: https://www1.lightningsource.com/ChainOfCustody/ I can't tell you much about using Lightning Source as a printer, because I've never done it.

CreateSpace and Lulu make no mention of it that I've seen. However, I believe CreateSpace may use Lightning Source as a printer at times, so it's hit and miss.

I've not seen carbon neutral statements for any of the companies.

C.R. Baker
01-12-2014, 12:46 AM
I suppose I think of POD as being inherently pretty earth-friendly. You tend not to have warehouses full of unsold books that need to be pulped.

Old Hack
01-12-2014, 01:27 AM
I suppose I think of POD as being inherently pretty earth-friendly. You tend not to have warehouses full of unsold books that need to be pulped.

Publishers which have "warehouses full of unsold books that need to be pulped" would very quickly go out of business: they need to sell their books in order to make money. So the scenario you suggest just isn't going to happen in the real world, no matter how many self-publishing evangelists claim that it does.

If you compare digital printing to offset printing then I believe digital printing is far more detrimental to the environment per copy printed. I might be wrong; and I'm not sure if that takes into account the cost of shipping, and the energy embedded in the technology required for either system.

Polenth
01-12-2014, 03:19 AM
The focus on energy per copy and pulping is looking in the wrong direction really. It's more important to know if a company is managing its energy use efficiently and sourcing its paper responsibly. Less energy per copy means nothing if the factory keeps its lights on all night and runs the machines when they aren't needed. Using less paper doesn't help when that paper was from an unsustainable source.

More generally, debating whether one bad thing is as bad as another bad thing tends to distract people from the actual goal of stopping the bad things.

Old Hack
01-12-2014, 01:16 PM
The focus on energy per copy and pulping is looking in the wrong direction really. It's more important to know if a company is managing its energy use efficiently and sourcing its paper responsibly. Less energy per copy means nothing if the factory keeps its lights on all night and runs the machines when they aren't needed. Using less paper doesn't help when that paper was from an unsustainable source.

More generally, debating whether one bad thing is as bad as another bad thing tends to distract people from the actual goal of stopping the bad things.

You make several good points, Polenth: but there are a few you're overlooking.

Energy used per copy is significant on long print-runs, but it is less likely to be an issue for a self-published print edition because sales are likely to be low.

The inks used in printing can be horrendously toxic, and as I hinted in my other posts here, this is a significant issue. It's just as significant, if not moreso, as using responsibly-sourced paper; and a printer's location has to be considered too, as there are different laws and regulations, and a different attitude to following those laws and regulations depending on which country the printer is situated in.

Many offset printers do keep their lights on all night, but that's not because they run the machines when they aren't needed: it's because they run the machines round the clock because they have so many books to print. Digital printers don't tend to work in the same way--it's rarer for them to do long print-runs, for example--but there's also the question about whether it uses more energy to leave the kit on 24 hours a day or to switch them off when they're not needed, and then have to switch them on again and start that big surge of energy as the printers start and warm up.

It used to be that POD books required a special, very dense and smooth paper and it's still usual for POD books to use it: it takes a lot more energy and, I believe, more pulp (have you ever noticed that a POD book is thicker than an offset one of the same pagecount?) to produce that paper. I seem to remember that such paper required specific trees, and that it was difficult to source them responsibly, but I can't be sure because I can't find my notes (I've written about the environmental impact of printing and publishing, but it was a while ago) and my last piece on this was written a couple of years ago, and I'd bet that things have changed a lot since then.

There are so many points to factor in, and I'm not sure that we can single out any one or two factors which are more important than others without a lot more analysis.

And after all this I'm still not sure if this is what the OP meant by the term "autopublishing"! I hope they'll come back to clarify.

mx222
01-13-2014, 10:18 AM
It's true POD can be pretty eco-friendly after all and thanks for that Lightning Source link I didn't know that.