Publishing industry bodies announce big steps towards sustainability in Publishing

Abstract icon representing the ecological call to be sustainable
Image © malp / Adobe Stock
Teddy McDonald

Teddy McDonald

Teddy works on SoA communications and outreach and alongside the Policy department on the SoA's campaigns work. He is also co-coordinator of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group (CWIG).
The Publishers Association and the Booksellers Association announce the launch of initiatives aimed at making the Publishing Industry more sustainable.

On Friday 23 September, the Publishers Association (PA) and Booksellers Association (BA) announced the launch of initiatives aimed at making the Publishing Industry more sustainable.

As member organisations of the Sustainability Industry Forum (SIF), whose remit is dictated by the pledges set out in Publishing Declares, their work is part of a multilateral drive, aiming to end the industry’s negative impact on the environment.

To help publishers review the sustainability of their their practices, the Publishers Association has launched a Carbon Calculator. Designed by the Research Institute of Sweden and software company Solstice, the tool will enable businesses to better monitor their carbon footprint across various aspects of business. 

In the weeks ahead, a Materials Matrix will be added to this, which will indicate the sustainability of materials used in the publishing supply chain based on environmental and social indicators, so that members can select those least harmful. The PA will also recruit a sustainability manager, who will lead the development of the Carbon Calculator and associated tools for members.

The Booksellers Association has launched a £100,000 Sustainability Grant Fund, which is being made available alongside their own carbon calculator. Booksellers will be able to apply for a grant between £250 and £1000 for a project to improve the sustainability of their business, while the calculator can be used to measure progress over time. 

These projects come in the wake of a spate of promising initiatives by individual publishers seeking to make their own practices more sustainable, in line with targets set out by both Publishing Declares and the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

The PA and BA, along with The Society of Authors, Association of Authors Agents, and other industry bodies, are members of the Sustainability Industry Forum (SIF), a group committed to ending unsustainable practices in the publishing industry. The forum was born out of a shared desire to improve transparency and accountability, and improve collaboration when it comes to sustainable practice. We believe a coordinated cross-industry effort will be vital in delivering meaningful, measurable sustainable change in publishing.

The Society of Authors also runs its own Sustainability Working Group, a network of SoA members with the aim of taking part in industry forums and exploring ways to help authors influence positive change both individually and as a union. For more on where we stand on sustainability and future campaigns to be launched by our working group, see here.

We welcome these developments by our fellow members of SIF, the PA and BA. 

Sustainability is our greatest challenge but — particularly in publishing — the area where our interests are most aligned, and our greatest opportunity for working together. We need ambitious change in the decade to come, and these initiatives signal a new-found concern within the industry. It was wonderful to see them launched on the same day.

Chair of Management Committee, Joanne Harris

This is a watershed moment for publishing – the entire industry sharing data and collaborating constructively to achieve net zero. 

But it is only a beginning, and we continue to call for greater transparency between publishers, authors and readers about how books are made, and their true cost to the earth.

Author and SoA Sustainability Working Group member, Piers Torday

6 December 2022

A look back at our Sustainability Week activities in November, and a look ahead at what we’ll be doing on sustainability over the next 12 months

15 October 2021

The Authors and Illustrators Sustainability Working Group* welcomes the Publishers Association industry statement on climate: Publishing Declares.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
We'd love to hear from you. Please comment.x