Sustainability in Book Publishing 2024

As Earth Month comes to a close, let’s all remember that meeting sustainability goals must be an ongoing effort. We’ve been excited to hear even more conversations with a focus on publishing’s impact on the environment at events around the world and, in particular, a shift toward action. 

At the London Book Fair this year, over 20 events were held in the dedicated Sustainability Hub, with topics meant to drive concrete action toward Sustainable Development Goals. Although we weren’t able to attend each session, the message was clear that publishers want to stop talking about the challenges that persist in transitioning towards greener publishing practices and start making more exponential progress.

In the session “Championing Climate Action: Authors as Agents of Change”, panelists discussed the impact of individual and collective action. Children’s author Jonathan Emmett expressed his no-fly policy, opting instead for virtual readings or traveling only within distances easy to access by train. The concept of “Climate Shadow” emerged as a powerful tool for authors to influence positive change – an individual’s potential impact on the climate is more than just our carbon footprint. By leveraging personal influence through conversations, behaviors, and speaking engagements, authors can significantly impact environmental awareness and action. Emmett’s advocacy for reducing air travel resonated deeply, highlighting the potential impact of even small lifestyle changes. With one flight from NYC to London equating to 2.2 tons of carbon emissions, convincing someone to reduce their flying by just one trip can make a meaningful difference.

Learn more about the Outdoors & Nature category on NetGalley!

Novelist Yara Rodrigues Fowler stressed the importance of collective action, calling on authors to hold their publishers accountable to their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Martin Reed, Head of Communications at the Society of Authors, encouraged authors and publishers to sign Publishing Declares, a sustainability pledge launched by the Publishers Association, which now has 188 signatories. As The Guardian reports,  the pledge has sparked momentum within the industry; however, Siena Parker, social impact director at Penguin, emphasized that the next crucial step is supporting these signatories in actualizing their pledge.

By some estimates, one tree produces enough paper for only 25 books. Using that math, 3.5 million approvals means that publishers have saved about 140k trees by using NetGalley in the past year alone!

Here at NetGalley we are proud to help publishers supplement, and sometimes even fully replace, printed ARCs with a secure, digital solution. This empowers publishers to embrace sustainable practices while maintaining effective marketing and promotional strategies by minimizing paper waste and carbon emissions associated with printing and shipping. At conferences and events, we love to see publishers shifting toward a more sustainable approach by offering attendees access to their books digitally by including a QR code that allows them to Request or Read Now through NetGalley.

In the past 12 months, over 25,000 DRCs and Audiobooks were added to NetGalley, with 3.5 million requests approved. By some estimates, one tree produces enough paper for only 25 books. Using that math, 3.5 million approvals means that publishers have saved about 140,000 trees by using NetGalley in the past year alone!

We are proud that NetGalley’s climate shadow is helping the publishing industry achieve a more environmentally friendly path forward.


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