Books Gone Green

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 6, 2010

In addition to the many lovely children’s books about going green, we’ve been seeing some extremely appealing books that are themselves green: that is, books made of mostly recycled materials, and printed with vegetable inks. These books sometimes have an environmental theme, which is timely and terrific, but we’re also excited about a recent influx of fiction board books and activity books. Publishers are showing a real commitment when they make “regular” titles green, and not just their ecology-related titles. Healthier inks, less waste with greener processing materials, practices and byproducts, and happy little hands holding these books = win-win-win!
Let's Go Green Word FunLet's Go Green Picture Puzzles
We’ve been selling Priddy Books’ Let’s Go Green activity books like crazy. Kids like them, parents like them, they fly off the slatwall spinner display fast. It makes sense that the green angle is a strong selling point for consumable books, and for gifts (parents like to give earth-friendly, veggie-ink books to other families). And at $2.99 apiece, parents often buy all four books at once. (Note: the age indicator says 5+, but a customer reports that her 9-year-old loves them, as well.)
Little Animal Books
Little Animal interiorSome other favorites come from Innovative Kids’ Green Start line. Board books in regular and tiny sizes feel good in your hands. Their pleasing palettes — colors against kraft brown backgrounds — manage to be both bright and calm. The two “towers” of mini books make great baby-shower gifts; in addition to looking good, they have sweet, simple text that is fun to read aloud to babies and toddlers.(Tower at left; IK Floor Puzzleinterior detail of one of the books, right)Green Start Book and  PUzzle set
Innovative Kids also has a set of green book-and-puzzle packages, as well as several floor puzzles, one of which sold to a customer who didn’t even notice the ‘green’ aspect but just loved the cute art. In the Garden
We also like the board books aimed at the 3- to 5-year-olds, such as In the Garden.
Little Green Panda
Simon & Schuster has a new series called Little Green Books. The website describes the series thus: “Little Green BooksTM teaches kids to be eco-friendly. The books are made from recycled materials and cover topics such as the earth and recycling.” Inks aren’t mentioned, but I’d be surprised if such eco-focused books would have been made with petroleum-based inks. I like to think not.
The Little Green series also offers something I haven’t seen elsewhere: 100% recycled fleece cloth books, made from cotton and recycled Polartec fleece to make very snuggly bedtime books. (Above, at left, an example withLittle Panda.
Bag in the WindCandlewick Press is taking a slightly different tack. Unlike the toasty-brown-colored books that signal recycled paper, their eco-friendly books may not announce themselves quite so obviously, but they exist! Some of their books have started to be produced using 100% post-consumer-waste covers and dustjackets and 30% post-consumer waste paper, including Ted Kooser and Barry Root’s Bag in the Wind (pictured at left), Timothee De Fombelle’s Toby Alone (both hardcover and paperback editions) and Tim Flannery’s We Are the Weather Makers: The History of Climate Change (also both hc and pb editions). Gigi Amateau’s novel, A Certain Strain of Peculiar, was printed on recycled paper with 30% post-consumer waste.
If you’re interested in learning more about green publishing, The Barefoot Press, a printing company, is a great resource. They’ve been in the green printing business since 1987, long before most printers were interested in pursuing more earth-friendly practices.
Finally, if you’re a consumer or business interested in replacing your traditional ink printer cartridges with soy-ink printer cartridges, they’re starting to become more readily available. Soyprint is one source.
We applaud all of these efforts. Please let us know about other truly eco-friendly publishing programs!

5 thoughts on “Books Gone Green

  1. braker

    Thanks for the article! I agree about the Innovative Kids series–very beautiful printings on kraft brown. Let’s hope it’s soy ink or that this publisher will move in that direction.
    Also search for the Green Press Initiative for more on green printing and assistance to interested publishers.


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