A New Publishing Design Preserves Resources

Creating more compact books - one page at a time.



(Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com)

Big changes can come in tiny details. A publisher has discovered that changing the design and font in books saves millions of pages and thousands of trees. Sometimes brilliant answers are right in front of us—and in this case, it is that white space on a page! The design team at Harper Collins examined how they could make their books environmentally friendly while preserving readability, reports Fast Company. It all started in 2015 when Zondervan, their bible division, explored ways to save pages when printing bibles. 

Saving millions of pages
Bibles are huge books, often consisting of 2,500 pages. To save pages, the division developed a new typeface called NIV Comfort Print that is compact and comfortable to read. The use of Zondervan’s compact font reduced a bible’s length by 350 pages and saved 100 million pages of paper. If these pages were stacked up, this would be the size of four Empire State Buildings! 

Harper Collins wanted to apply this solution to their fiction and non-fiction books. After they asked designers to come up with ideas, the designers created 50 renditions of a 600-page book using easy-to-read fonts and redesigned pages that reduce the white space on a page. 

During these tests, they focused on fonts that were more compact, coming up with a list of 15 preferred eco-friendly fonts. They also considered white space on the page and created clever designs to make the books more compact without readers even perceiving the difference. Designers also considered the heaviness of the font so the ink would not bleed through the page. 

Their new designs save ink, paper, printing costs, and trees while preserving the reader’s positive experience. “It was simply a different approach that didn’t sacrifice aesthetics. Now, our designers are constantly questioning how we do things and thinking about ways to make things more sustainable.” Tracey Menzies, VP of creative operations and production at Harper Collins, told Fast Company.

Questioning how we do things to make them more sustainable applies to all, especially those who work at an office with a printer. Be it at home, school, or at work, simple solutions can go a long way. And one need not be a publisher to embrace these changes.

Using eco-friendly fonts
If you print many pages at work or for school, give these tips some consideration. Before selecting the print button, think about the font. Printing in 12-point Garamond uses up to 28 percent less ink, notes Leap. This was proven back in 2014 when an American high school student calculated that his high school could save a lot of money simply by using the Garamond font!  

Many sans-serif fonts are also considered eco-friendly as they are lighter weight, faster to print, and use less resources like paper and ink. Other sustainable printing suggestions are to print double sided and to use recycled paper. 

Another way to save ink is to format documents with an “eco font,” suggests USA Today. Some of these fonts are perforated with tiny holes that are imperceptible to the naked eye, and can save 46 percent of ink or toner.

Be it large publishers or a tiny home office, seemingly small changes can go a long way. When you next sit down to read a novel by your favorite author, look at the font and examine the white space. A designer has carefully created the page format to perfectly suit that book; and behind that designer is the font itself! 

Thanks to the Harper Collins initiative, designers are becoming aware of how many pages are in that volume. This awareness can also spread by pausing before sending a document to print and checking the font. When it comes to ensuring a green future for the next generation, this is how to see the forest for the trees.

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