Books Have Nothing to Do with Paper

This tree deserves to become a better newspaper
"This tree deserves to become a better newspaper"

A few weeks back I stumbled upon this advertisement for a newspaper which in loose translation says “This tree deserves to become a better newspaper”. Seeing it was one of those events which short-circuit my mind by causing a storm of concurrent reactions, like hearing religious leaders speak out against using preservatives, for example. The thought vortex went something like this: “It’s like showing a picture of a lamb with the punch line that that lamb deserves to become a tender, juicy steak”, “Is this conclusive proof that there is no such thing as bad publicity?”, “Advertising your way out of a job…”, “Who are these people?!”, “Blissfully detached from the world around them…”…and so on. That advertisement is therefore one of the reasons why I would like to say a few words about books, newspapers and paper publishing in general.

A newspaper is a proper industrial society, 20th century product: it is mass-produced daily in up to millions of copies, packed into vans, trucks, trains and planes, sold in a massive network of points of sale where people stop by to pick them up, read up to 20% of their contents and throw them away at the end of the day. It is worth mentioning that while 80% of paper does get recycled, paper recycling is always a downcycling process (i.e. it can only be done several times) and other used resources (like transportation, storage, various sale costs) cannot be recycled at all.

As for books, Continue reading “Books Have Nothing to Do with Paper”