Printing from a writer’s perspective and the fun of re-purposing…
When planning my projects for the next few years, I was aware that print books are still my format of choice (as a reader and writer). A love of nature and lifelong habits of re-using paper, where possible, impacts my purchasing and use of paper. Though as far as print books I’ve published, I’d yet to address it. I sat and made a plan, tackling the issue from various angles and here’s what I came up with:
The service I use to publish enables me to produce books affordably (for readers and myself). The ink is chlorine-free, the paper stock is 90gsm acid-free and supplied by a Forest Stewardship Council-certified provider. It is a print-on-demand service, so only what is needed is printed. When publishing Sky Drum, I chose white paper. For continuity, I’m maintaining that for the book that will follow it. Beyond that, all books will be printed on 90gsm cream paper; made from 30% post-consumer waste recycled material. This is something that the printing service I use offers and though I’m grateful for that, alone it doesn’t feel enough. I’ve made other choices to align with this:
- Merge projects (combine some stories so there’s 1 book in place of 2)
- Create some digital-only creative works (coming in 2021)
- Offer creative work in multiple formats besides print (not just e-book)
- Write shorter novels (25k less words is approximately 50 less pages)
- Choose the smallest dimension (like Spirals – Sky Drum sequel being the exception)
Alone, it isn’t a great impact; I’m one of millions of writers and billions of people. If the impact is so small, is the only real impact on my conscience? Perhaps. Though I still believe it’s worthwhile. There’s the option to go entirely digital which I may consider in the future. For now, I’m building towards multiple digital formats at lower cost; so it’s more desirable than print. I encourage people to pass on my books once read (if they’ve no wish to keep them), to a free book shelf, charity or shop; because the second-hand market plays a role in reduced consumption too.
There are non-wood alternatives to paper and these are being used. I’ve no control over when they become the norm for publishing / printing services, though I can take steps towards reducing the impact my creative work has. I purchase less books than I used to and often second-hand. All of these things done together and done by many, certainly help. Artists can use digital software though it’s true some people find they create better, with the tactile use of a brush or pen.
I buy recycled notebooks and squirrel card and paper stock from multiple sources. I use pretty scenery paper for letter writing, though just as often write on the back of a colouring page or paper from packaging. It’s fun to re-purpose! I save the covers from notebooks gifted to me, then cut, punch and thread paper that is only printed on 1 side to make new journals. What fun ways do you re-purpose paper?