Book Publishing Just Got Greener

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Ingram’s Lightning Source Inc. today announced that it has received Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certification from three leading environmental organizations: the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC).

Chain of custody (CoC) is an accounting system that tracks wood fiber through the different stages of production: from the forest, to the mill, to the paper, to the printer and ultimately to the finished book. CoC ensures the integrity of the paper supply chain and that the paper used in Lightning Source printed books are from responsibly managed forests.

This is a big deal because Lightning Source is one of the largest producers of the books on demand space. Currently, it manufactures more 1.5 million books per month — yes, per month — for more than 12,000 publishers. Some titles are released as print on demand only. Others are moved to print on demand once they hit backlist status. Print on demand is a big deal and impacts book publishing and consumption more than most people think.

There are currently more than 2.9 million books in the Lightning Source digital library alone. If you order a book from, unless it’s just been released by a major publisher, there is a good chance it’s printed on demand from LSI.

The fact that LSI now has chain of custody certification is a big deal for the environment. Let’s hope we hear the same announcement from other high-volume POD book printers in the coming months.

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