How Sustainable are Books?

When you hear sustainability, you might think of hot topics like sustainable energy or sustainable fishing, but what does sustainability mean in the publishing industry? To fully understand sustainability in the publishing community, it is necessary to understand how publishing is not only culturally impactful but also environmentally impactful. Understanding these two factors will reveal the symbiotic relation between publisher and consumer, as well as their obligations to one another for a stronger, more supportive reading community.

A small, dark-colored ereader and a larger, white-colored ereader, both displaying text on their screens.Culturally, publishing influences the books people read and the way those books are read. There has been an ongoing debate whether the rise of e-readers, tablets, and online publishing will eventually kill the print book. There seems to be a push from consumers towards technology, while publishers seem to focus more on print. In an interview with Jenn Webb from Tools of Change, Dennis Stovall from Portland State University remarks about the common publisher attitude towards e-books. “Every medium exists with constraints and opportunities, and the new frontiers of digital publishing have hardly been opened. Meanwhile, we’ve pushed many of the limits of the old technologies.” As technology shifts, so do people and the reading culture surrounding them. E-readers and online prints are gaining ground due to their accessibility and portability. For books to stay culturally relevant to a modern reading audience, publishers must embrace this cultural shift towards technology to create a stronger reading community.

A dark forest scene. Moss and fungi are clearly seen growing on the ground. A canopy of tree branches is overhead.By now, I can hear at least one person screaming, “There’s nothing like the smell of a real book!” And you’re right, but environmental concerns loom over any industry whether it be mining, fishing, or agriculture. Publishing is no exception. Print books take their toll on the environment by using paper and ink. Sustainability in this aspect is concerned with a publisher’s ability to print books in an economical fashion while reducing the environmental strain of manufacturing books. And this side of sustainability is more of a concern for the consumer. To explain, let’s talk about recycling. Many publishers attempt to manufacture books with recycled paper, but the accessibility of recycled paper is limited. Jim Milliot from Publishers Weekly explains, “The biggest challenge unearthed by the study is the lack of availability of recycled paper. In 2014, the average amount of recycled content from reporting manufacturers was 12%, down from 22% in 2012.” Milliot then goes on to suggest the move towards is the cause for the lack of paper.

This is where we, the consumers, hold responsibility. Single-stream recycling is good for many aspects, yet it is terrible for paper. Typically, paper becomes wet when it is collected for single-stream and becomes unusable for recycle. While single-stream recycling is more convenient than other methods, it greatly decreases the yield of paper products. This is why the reading community must make changes and recycle in different ways, such as dual-stream recycling. By using alternate recycling methods, consumers help recycled paper become more accessible to publishers, making print books more environmentally viable.

For publishing to be truly culturally and environmentally sustainable, it must be an all-around effort from the publisher and consumer. This shouldn’t be difficult for either side, since we both love reading and understand its importance. Here at the University of North Georgia Press, we strive to give students access to free downloadable textbooks to aid in the endeavor of sustainable publishing.

Back to School Prep: The College Survival Pack

It’s near the end of summer and school time is drawing near. You probably had plans to learn a new skill or read a library’s worth of books (so did I), but alas! All your time was squandered on Netflix, a part-time job, and worst of all—maintaining family ties. And now, you’re going to spend all your time reading textbooks or learning mathematical equations. But it’ll all be okay! We’ve compiled a list of items to help you survive the next semester and maybe even do a little reading for fun.

1) The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction – Ann Charters

Cover of "The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction"by Ann Charters.
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Okay, I know. Why suggest a short story anthology when you’re already reading for classes? Hear me out. Short stories are great because they’re accessible. Only have 30 minutes to read? Good. You can read a short story while you eat, giving yourself just enough time to get to class for once. Plus, there are case studies in the back to help you become a better writer if that’s your thing.


2) A Scream Pillow

College can be stressful at times. When it’s too much, try screaming into a pillow to destress. Just warn your roommates beforehand!


3) Walden – Henry David Thoreau

Cover of Walden by Henry David ThoreauHaving night sweats about the frigid fall and winter weather? It might actually be a side effect of the heat. If that’s the case, be glad for the approaching cold. If not, try to hold on to the last of nature’s summer goodness with Walden by Thoreau.



4) A Lunch Box

A divided food container sits in front of a laptop. The container is full of rice, vegetables, and potatoes. Tired of stale cafeteria food or overpriced leftovers from the night before? Start packing your lunch and save some money (and your taste buds). Now, you can spend all that extra cash on something important. A certain short story anthology comes to mind. . .


5) Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy

Cover of lood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.Is daily life becoming tedious? Do you want some action in your life? Look no further for the solution! Blood Meridian is a western which will take you back to cowpoke days and save you from the ailments and comforts of modernity.



6) An Adult Coloring Book

Cover for Adult Coloring Books: Cats from Laluna Books
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Coloring is a great way to destress. Whether you prefer crayons or pencils, carry this cat coloring book around with you and color the stress away. It’s a lot better than some alternatives. Warning: This is not permission to procrastinate like you did last semester.


7) Tea or Coffee

Coffee beans package for Death Wish Coffee
Death Wish Coffee

Whether you need the comfort of tea or the power of coffee, there is no doubt you should stock up on both. A warm beverage will help keep the creeping cold out of your bones, and it might even make you productive. For those caffeine fiends out there, could I recommend Death Wish Coffee? If you’re like me and prefer tea, Yorkshire Gold is my go-to for a pick-me-up.

A Farewell to the Press

Beginning college, I aspired to go into the medical field, but a year later I was undeclared and without a clue of what I wanted to be. Another year—along with my pestering advisor—showed me I wanted to be an English major, but then I needed to overcome the unclear career path English majors tend to have. Do I become a teacher; do I go into marketing; do I write books and live life in poverty? The options were endless. Finally, I decided publishing was the route I was going to take. The next step was to gain experience, and through hearsay, I found the UNG Press.

My first day at the Press, I didn’t know what to expect. But now that my internship has been completed, I can say I’m proud of my work. I edited documents and created social media posts. The Press even trusted me enough to interview an author. The experience I have had at the Press was encouraging. I realize, now, I was correct in my choice of wanting to go into the publishing industry, and I can thank no one other than the Press for showing me what I can expect from a publishing house. I have enjoyed the opportunity to demonstrate my abilities, but more so, learn new ones that will be beneficial to have as I move on to the working world.

From the Press, I’ve learned the importance of reaching out with social media and how to work as a team member, not to mention becoming a more versatile writer. Working at the Press hasn’t always been easy. The most difficult thing to overcome during my internship was the proclivity to write academically about topics which didn’t need a high degree of specificity and explication to be comprehended—oops. But anyways, the Press has showed me a different side of writing—a more practical side that I’m glad to have discovered and used.

To the Press: Thank You and Farewell!

How the News Gets the News

We may get our news from popular media outlets like CNN, Fox News, CBS, or MSNBC, but where do they get their news from? Media outlets, and any other news source for that matter, get a large majority of their information from press releases. Press releases act as a medium between the source of information and media outlets. A company writes a press release to a media outlet if they think the information is noteworthy such as new technological developments, upper management changes, or even new book releases. Sometimes, a company will post press releases to their website for reporters who are searching for a story to write about. Other times, the company may contact the media directly through fax or e-mail.

The format of a press release differs from what you may be used to reading. A press release has, like most documents, a title. The title must be intriguing enough for a reporter or journalist to even want to begin reading the press release. Geoffrey James at CBS Money Watch writes about a press release with a terrible title sent to him:

“As a reporter, my immediate response to that press release was that it’s not important because it expended an entire sentence saying absolutely nothing. And I assumed (probably rightly) that the company’s marketing team was a bunch of idiots.”

A stack of newspapers.Press releases generally include the following information as well:

1) The Date of Release
This information is generally somewhere towards the top of the document—usually below the title.

2) Contact Information
Contact information of the person who wrote the press release is at the beginning of the document and often times scattered throughout. It is important that a reporter or journalist can get in contact with the author of the press release or a company’s marketing team. This information should not be difficult to find.

3) An Introduction
The introduction outlines the purpose of why the presented information is newsworthy. If possible, the introduction should answer the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why.

4) The Body
Information is thoroughly explained in the section. It needs to give context and detail about why the information is newsworthy. This section contains the main reason you would be writing a press release.

5) Boiler Plate
You may be familiar with a boilerplate as a standard set text for legal documents, but a boilerplate in a press release usually only contains information about the company. A boilerplate in a press release displays the company’s name and contact information for their marketing team.

6) The Close
Once all that is written, a press release must have a close. The close is not a summary paragraph, but a set of defined symbols which indicate the release is over. These symbols vary, but two common closes are “-30-” and “###.”

7) Contact Information
Unlike the boiler plate which contains the company’s contact information, this contact information is specific to the writer of the press release or the company’s marketing team. Typically, the author of a press release leaves a phone number, e-mail, and fax number.

While all important, some of these elements can be left out. Robert Wynne from Forbes suggests, “Headline. Opening Sentence. Body. (What’s the story, why does it matter?) Contact Information.” If you’re confused, you can examine the formats of different press releases and find common themes between companies. For an example, check out this press release from Publishers Weekly.

Even if you have all these elements perfectly written, the title is the most important. It is crucial the title is clear and concise, since it is the first—and usually the only—element a reporter will initially see. Reporters must scan through hundreds of titles a day. For yours to stick out, it needs to be attention grabbing and directly to the point. Avoid long strings of meaningless adjectives and prepositional phrases. This way, reporters are more likely to understand what your press release is about. If they understand your title, they’re more likely read to read the whole release.

Literary Analysis and Discovery

Many of us are familiar with literary analysis. Maybe some of us even loath writing literary analysis. I can sympathize with that feeling. After all, literary analysis seems to be an ephemeral exercise in asserting a personal opinion which most likely doesn’t align with the reason for an author writing a work. I was on this side of the fence for a long time. At this point, you may be asking why I’m an English major if I feel this way, but that’s a story for another time. People change, and my feelings for literary analysis have shifted. Writing literary analysis has become a personal journey of discovery, but how did I come to this way of thinking?

First, I think it is necessary to examine how I approached writing literary analysis before I thought of it as a journey of discovery. If this was before. I would simply read a work and immediately have a conclusion about the meaning of the story. Then, I would write a paper based on my assumption of what the story means by finding passages which coincided with what I believed. And after finding a million passages, my paper would be complete with me not having learned much or really feeling all that accomplished.

Compare this to my approach to literary analysis now. The first difference would be my initial assumption after finishing a work. I try not to have a knee jerk reaction to the meaning of a work. This forces me to go back through the work and find common themes, motifs, symbols, and other literary techniques the author employed and examine them. By examining these techniques, a pattern is revealed. This is much different than my previous technique were I was attempting to force my own, knee jerk reaction onto the work. Doing this, you can look at literary analysis as a journey of discovery where little bits of a path are revealed until you come to the end.

I think this approach to literary analysis has given me a new appreciation for it, and honestly, it makes literary analysis so much more enjoyable. Before approaching literary analysis in this way, I would loath writing papers. Those papers almost seem combative or argumentative, trying to force the reader into believing me. Now, my papers act as a guide to the reader. I think using this method for literary analysis is much more true to the purpose of an author as well. Most authors purposely leave little remnants and literary techniques scattered throughout their works. Going back after an author and discovering these remnants makes for not only a more interesting process for writing, but also a way for you to discover what a work means to you personally. And while I think literary analysis is academically important, it can also reveal your thoughts and opinions on important subjects, which is why books are so vital in a society where it is hard to find who you are.

Intern Spotlight: Josh Vaughn

Hello, blog patrons! My name is Joshua Vaughn, but most people just call me Josh—unless you’re my mom or younger brother. In that case, it’s Joshua Kane. Since beginning college, my goal was to intern at the University Press, so I’m ecstatic to be working here this summer. Currently, I’m an upcoming senior at UNG, and I’m majoring in English, Writing and Publication and minoring in Japanese.

I wanted to work at the University Press not only because of the knowledge I will gain, but also because of the Press’ mission to provide Open Educational Resources (OERs) to students. As a student, this mission is close to my heart. I believe all students should have easily accessible course materials, and the University of North Georgia Press makes this possible.

In my free time, I like playing video games or hanging out with friends. Sometimes though, I just like to sit on my couch and binge watch Netflix while snacking on something—usually ice cream or extra toasted Cheez-its. Here are some other things about me:

  • I have played guitar since middle school
  • I love a good western movie or book
  • My favorite author is Hunter S. Thompson
  • My favorite color is orange
  • I can’t pick a favorite movie, but some I enjoy are The Machinist, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Mean Girls (don’t tell anyone about that last one)
  • I have all my wisdom teeth

After graduating, I want to teach English in Japan for a year or two before coming back to the United Sates. When I get back, I would like to work at a publishing house or press—hence the internship at the University Press. My life aspiration is not wealth, but to work somewhere I can clock out and not have to deal with work until the next morning. Thanks for taking the time to learn about me, bye!