Green Books: Sustainable Development or Just a Fad?

| 10/10/2008 9:09:54 AM

In recent years, the popularity of green-themed books has exploded, with titles like The Omnivore's Dilemma and An Inconvenient Truth hurtling from the niche market onto bestseller lists. As publishers scramble to grab a piece of the green pie, pumping out evermore eco-themed books, Quill & Quire magazine (article not available online) reports that some industry insiders are unsure if the trend has staying power.

Some publishers and booksellers fear the market for green books is expanding too fast. The genre already has bulged to include what Judith Plant, copublisher at New Society, described to Quill & Quire as "dross, light green" fare—such as insubstantial lifestyle guides and diet books. If publishers put quantity before quality in their rush to address consumer demand, the market may soon hit a point of saturation. That, booksellers point out, will have unintended (and sadly ironic) environmental consequences. If the buying trend trails off, all the go-green books that don't sell must be returned to the publishers. More unsold books means more wasted paper and more carbon emissions released from return shipping.

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