As London Book Fair Opens: Authors Seed a ‘Tree to Me’ Campaign

In News by Porter Anderson

Authors are asking their publishers in the UK 10 questions about the climate crisis and what it takes to get a book from the ‘Tree to Me.’

Image: Society of Authors, Jane Ray

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Books Are Part of the Problem’
As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the 2023 London Book Fair opens today with a new Sustainability Lounge in place, a program co-organized by the fair’s administration and LBF’s sister RX company Elsevier‘s global director of sustainability Rachel Martin.

As that focused sequence of events gets underway, the Society of Authors here in London is opening a new campaign called “Tree to Me,” which organizers say “is about challenging the journey a printed volume takes from virgin pulp to a book in a reader’s (or writer’s) hands”–from the “tree to me,” as it were.

The program, housed on a page here, is built on 10 questions that authors are encouraged to ask their publishers.

The messaging is moving today (April 18) as London Book Fair opens, across the society’s social media channels with the aesthetic enhancements of artist and illustrator Jane Ray.

In its rationale for the new campaign, the society writes, “Books are part of the problem, and while the publishing industry is beginning to work toward more sustainable practices, change isn’t happening fast enough.

“The paper and pulp industry alone accounts for the same level of greenhouse gas emissions as aviation.”'Tree to Me' campaign, Society of Authors

“From deforestation to produce paper, to packaging and carbon-hungry transportation and shipping, current manufacture and supply chains are unsustainable.

“The paper and pulp industry alone accounts for the same level of greenhouse gas emissions as aviation.”

The program praises to strong entries in the United Kingdom’s market, such as the Publishers Association’s “Zero Carbon Toolkit” and BIC’s “Green Book Alliance.”

In a prepared statement, author Piers Torday—who heads up the society’s sustainability steering committee, is quoted, saying, “I’m hugely proud to have published a sustainable book; it is possible.

“But for that to be the norm rather than the exception, authors need to be able to have clear and transparent conversations with publishers about their impact on the planet.

“‘Tree to Me’ equips them with the starting kit to do just that.”

Authors Asking Publishers Pointed Questions

The program seeks to leverage the position of authors in the industry by arming them with 10 questions for them to put to their publishers:

  • Have you signed up to Publishing Declares, the [UK] Publishers Association’s pledge on climate action, or do you have an alternative reduction strategy? [On the broader, international scene Publishing Perspectives is designed to cover, a particularly important parallel is the  SDG Publishers Compact from the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA).]
  • Have you set emissions targets with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), the global standard? Have you set a net zero goal?
  • Do you disclose your carbon emissions annually to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and/or are you reporting in other ways?
  • Do you use 100-percent renewable electricity across your operations?
  • Do you plan to use 100-percent recycled paper, or otherwise sustainably source the paper used for packaging, books (where possible) and across your operations? Have you stopped using plastic packaging?
  • Have you taken specific action to protect biodiversity, limit deforestation and reduce water usage?
  • Do you use foils and finishes or lamination? What proportion of these can be recycled? Do you offer more sustainable formats such as trimmed sizes?
  • Does your organisation have a corporate governance system to hold it accountable for sustainability? Do you provide staff sustainability training?
  • Do you disclose any of your organisation’s investments (including employees’ pensions) in the fossil fuel industry?
  • How can you help me communicate this prominently to my readers?

The hashtag for this one, of course, is #TreeToMe.

A detail from the artwork developed by Jane Ray for the Society of Authors’ ‘Tree to Me’ environmental sustainability campaign. Image: Society of Authors, Jane Ray


A programming note:
Publishing Perspectives will also participate in a Sustainability Lounge event on London Book Fair’s opening day, April 18: a 30-minute examination of the status of the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals with an eye to the 2030 time line for this program’s accomplishment.

April 18, 1:30 to 2 p.m., Sustainability Lounge
Halfway to 2030: What is Needed to Get the SDGs on Track?

  • Sherri Aldis, UNRIC Brussels
  • Porter AndersonPublishing Perspectives
  • Louis Coiffait-Gunn, Publishers Association

More from Publishing Perspectives on the climate crisis is here, more on London Book Fair is here, more on sustainabilty in the international publishing industry is here, more on the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals is here, more on the IPA and UN SDG Publishers Compact is here, and more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More coverage relative to the 2023 London Book Fair:

At London Book Fair Tuesday: Copyright Under Attack
London Book Fair: Google Becomes a Client of MVB’s Metabooks
London Book Fair and the UK’s National Literacy Trust Open Schools Program
Emirates Publishers Association at London Book Fair: Seven Presses for Rights Meetings
London Book Fair: The 2023 International Excellence Awards
From Richard Charkin’s ‘My Back Pages’: ‘The Challenges of Diplomacy’
London Book Fair and Bologna: 2024 Trade Show Dates Conflict Resolved
London Book Fair: Klaus Flugge To Receive London’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Interview: Rachel Martin on London Book Fair’s Sustainability Lounge
London Book Fair: International Publishers Association Events
London Book Fair: A Keynote From London Mayor Sadiq Khan on the Climate Crisis
Richard Charkin in London: ‘The Perils of Literary Publishing’
Sustainability: Exact Editions Promotes ‘Collections’ for Book-Award Juries
London Book Fair’s New Director Gareth Rapley: ‘A Rich History’
London Book Fair Names Main Stage Speakers
London Book Fair Plans: Scholarly and Rights Conferences
Exact Editions to Showcase IPG Publishers’ Books at London Book Fair
Industry Notes: London Book Fair Awards, Hay Festival in Colombia
London Book Fair Opens International Excellence Awards for Submissions

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.