Can Books Save Our Oceans?

Ocean plastic has been bothering me. It’s been bothering lots of people, obviously, because it’s a really bad thing.

I saw that the new Real Madrid alternative kit is made completely from ocean plastic, and it made me think about ways in which books could be made so that they have less impact on the environment.

Could book covers, for example, be made from ocean plastic rather than cardboard? Is anyone producing ink that uses this kind of waste? How could we produce printed books more sustainably? Can we drift away from traditional manufacturing methods, showing our commitment to environmental stewardship? These aren’t questions to which I have answers, but they do all intrigue me.

Photo by Unsplash

Sustainable, environmentally friendly books exist, of course; they’re called ebooks! But that’s not what I’m thinking about. Making print books friendlier to our planet seems like a smart thing to do. Recycled paper is great, but even with that there are concerns about the footprint it leaves. Coming up with a way to make more bits of the book itself from materials that are killing our planet on a daily basis could create a business (and jobs) for people and would make the things we all love that much lovelier.

3D printers can use ocean plastic to make the “ink” they need to create things. In fact, could covers be produced by 3D printers? How cheap and effective is that? There’s printing ink made from car exhaust! Yes, that’s a thing. Could we use that? Hemp used to be the primary source material for making paper. Is that an option we could return to? Is it any better than other paper? Can that ocean plastic be made thin enough that it could be used as a paper replacement?

The marketing and branding return on such an investment is obvious: we’re making books that help clean up our oceans! And I think we’d gain some sales even though, at least to start with, we’d have to increase the price on such books because I’m guessing it would cost more to create plastic covers than it does to create cardboard ones. Would we also gain authors who just have to be published by the most Earth-loving UP on the planet? But that isn’t the main reason to contemplate this kind of sea change (sorry) in the manufacturing of books. If we can help take plastic out of the ocean, that would make everything we do better. And, because we’re talking about books here—a thing that book lovers just hate to part with—, it’s not like we’re going to replace the ocean plastic we remove with the plastic from the books when someone is done reading them!

Lots of questions, few answers here. I’m just pondering what might be possible and in the meantime, putting in place these fifteen ways to reduce my plastic consumption.


About the author of this blog post: Martyn Beeny is Marketing and Sales Director of Cornell University Press. He is struggling with the idea that he wrote a blog inspired by Real Madrid. Gooner for Life.

Can Books Save Our Oceans?

Embracing the Subversive Nature of Open Access


“Libraries are innately subversive institutions born of the radical notion that every single member of society deserves free, high quality access to knowledge and culture.”—Dr. Matt Finch

Libraries are indeed a radical idea. Rather than purchase a book, I can simply go to my public library and borrow it for no fee whatsoever. Free books for everyone! Apart from the single purchase of a book by the library, it is a collective slap in the face to free-market capitalism. Some conservative voices in the nineteenth century, in fact, strongly attacked libraries for being “socialist continuation schools” that created a culture of dependency for those who could not pay market value for the books they wanted. And some continue to argue this even now. Continue reading “Embracing the Subversive Nature of Open Access”

Embracing the Subversive Nature of Open Access

A Week of Free Books!


Today, we’re starting a week long focus on Cornell Open.

Cornell Open is the global open access portal for classic titles from the distinguished catalog of  Cornell University Press. Funded by the newly created Humanities Open Book Program, a collaborative effort between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell Open offers for the first time open access to key titles in literary criticism and theory, German studies, and Slavic studies.

As part of this focus, we’ll be offering short excerpts from a selection of the Cornell Open books, as well as some other bits and pieces to give you a little more insight into Cornell Open and open access books.

Continue reading “A Week of Free Books!”

A Week of Free Books!

Launch of Cornell University Press content on UPSO

ITHACA, NY – Cornell University Press is pleased to announce it will be partnering with Oxford University Press to load its scholarly monograph content on the University Press Scholarship Online (UPSO) platform to take advantage of a fully enabled XML environment with the cutting-edge search and discovery functionality that has marked the ongoing success of Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO). The official launch date begins today and can be accessed at this link:

Speaking on the launch of Cornell Scholarship Online, Dean Smith, the Press’s Director, said: “Cornell University Press is excited to join UPSO and benefit from an innovative model that offers new features for the reader and leverages a global approach to sales. We are honored to be among this prestigious group of publishers.”

Niko Pfund, President of Oxford University Press USA, added that “an alliance between Cornell University Press and OUP seems only natural. From Costa Rican birds to lessons for beekeepers, from books on Eastern European nationalism to colonial American life, Cornell’s program is tightly focused yet never predictable, and I’m delighted to welcome Cornell authors, books, and colleagues to the UPSO fold.” Continue reading “Launch of Cornell University Press content on UPSO”

Launch of Cornell University Press content on UPSO

The End of Protest and other ebooks now available

The End of Protest, the first Cornell Select ebook-only title, is now available. Watch a trailer and find out where to buy it here!

Other recently released ebooks include:

Awaiting the Heavenly Country: The Civil War and America’s Culture of Death
Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York
A History of Medieval Spain
The Rise of Universities
Stretched Thin: Poor Families, Welfare Work, and Welfare Reform
Under the Black Umbrella: Voices from Colonial Korea, 1910–1945

The End of Protest and other ebooks now available

Backlist Titles Now Available as Ebooks

Almost all of Cornell’s new releases are available as ebooks from’s Kindle store, the Google Ebookstore, and Ebrary. (And we’re currently in discussion with additional ebook sellers to make our ebooks more widely available.) We are also digitizing older (backlist) books and will announce their availability as ebooks here as they go on-line.

The following backlist titles are now available from Amazon, Kindle, and Ebrary: Victorian Interpretation by Suzy Anger; Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt by Jan Assmann; Why France?: American Historians Reflect on an Enduring Fascination, edited by Laura Lee Downs and Stéphane Gerson; The Secret History of Hermes Trismegistus: Hermeticism from Ancient to Modern Times by Florian Ebeling; Islam in the World Today: A Handbook of Politics, Religion, Culture, and Society, edited by Werner Ende and Udo Steinbach; Pythagoras: His Life, Teaching, and Influence by Christoph Riedweg; and Code Green: Money-Driven Hospitals and the Dismantling of Nursing by Dana Beth Weinberg.

Backlist Titles Now Available as Ebooks