I'm Retiring from Print Book Formatting


Beginning in 2024 I will no longer format any self-published print books. I have two reasons.

First, I find it far more tiring to work on a screen for too long. Even as little as last year I was able to work for three to four hours at a stretch. I can’t do that anymore. My eyesight starts to give me problems and it’s hard to keep going.

Second, I am convinced that paper books are worse for the environment primarily due to deforestation and enormous fossil fuel use in the creation and distribution of paper books. 

  • We use a lot of fossil fuels to cut logs down, haul the logs to the paper mill, produce the paper, haul the paper to the printing facility (along with the inks and solvents used in the printing process), move the heavy printed books to distribution facilities, move the heavy printed books to bookstores, and finally to deliver a book to you.

  • Not mentioned in most analyses of this: The millions of road trips individuals take to visit a bookstore to buy paper books. You can buy Ebooks without ever leaving your home.

  • Rarely mentioned by the dead-tree book fans: Millions of books are over-printed and never sold or used -- and they mostly end up in landfills. Even when they are recycled, more fossil fuels are used to transport the heavy books to the recycling facility where yet more energy is used to turn them back into pulp.

  • We need more trees, not fewer. "A single metric tonne of paper requires around 17 trees – an average of 59 kilos of paper per tree. If we assume that an average 400-page paperback weighs about 600 grams, one tree can spawn just under 100 books." (1) Approximately 220 million paper books were sold in 2021. That equates to the loss of 2,200,000 trees.
  • "Mike Berners-Lee, a professor of practice in Lancaster University’s Environment Centre, wrote in a post for New Scientist that a reader must go through at least 36 books (paperbacks that could be recycled) before evening out for an e-reader’s footprint."(2) Most of my friends have easily read more than 36 books. 

  • Ereaders are not environmentally benign, but dedicated e-reader sales have been declining rapidly. The reason? Most of us already own, and use, a tablet or a phone, both of which are perfectly capable of supporting multiple e-reader apps (I have three on my tablet: the Kindle app, Libby and Boundless). You don't need to buy a dedicated e-reader to enjoy ebooks.

  • Bottom line: Your tablet, phone or dedicated e-reader can hold thousands of books, all delivered to you with a fraction of the fossil fuels, fresh water usage, or felled trees required for the paper version.
All of this applies to purchasing new books. Getting books from the library, buying used books or listening to audiobooks are an entirely different issue - they are a far more environmentally sound choice than buying paper books. 

If you want to have an ebook (Kindle or other platforms), I’ll do that for free. They take very little screen time for me to format.

If you still want a print version, consider https://www.booknook.biz/.  I see their owner on the KDP forums every day. She answered my questions about formatting and was very pleasant about it. They have thousands of clients and have been formatting for Amazon/KDP longer than I have. I am confident that they are very good at it.

If you would prefer a local formatter, please contact Margie Markevicius. Her website:
https://margiesmark.design/index.html. She is based in Aurora. I have worked with her on some of the Foxtales books back when I was part of the Fox Valley Writers Group at North Aurora's Messenger Library. She'll do a great job on both the interior and cover!


(1) https://commercialwaste.trade/e-readers-vs-books-better-environment/

(2) https://www.popsci.com/environment/books-ereader-sustainability/


franfredricks said…
I am an audio book "reader" and believe that saves trees too :)
Kevin Moriarity said…
Fran - you are right and I changed my post to mention audiobooks. Thanks!

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