For each euro of profit generated by publishing novels in France, there is a hidden cost of 75 cents on society and the environment.

This is the result of our new study « Tranformation and impacts of the French publishing sector ». This study investigates the social and environmental impacts of the paper and book production industries in the backstage of our libraries.

A business logic that creates ever-increasing waste

Beyond the invaluable cultural value it conveys, the book has become an object of mass consumption.

Over the last 20 years , the financialization of the French publishing sector has accelerated business concentration: in 2014, 3 groups (Hachette Livre, Editis and Madrigall) made up 50% of the total turnover of the sector.

The imperatives of short-term profitability now in force have created a sales model that encourages waste: each year, 1 in 4 books is destroyed (“pounded”) without having been read.

The paper industry, third sector most affected by the destruction of employment, after textiles and extractives

At the same time, the French printing and especially paper industries have collapsed over the last 10 years, benefiting foreign companies in Europe and in developing countries. 1 job out of 3 has disappeared since 2000 in the paper industry, the third sector most affected in France by the destruction of jobs after textiles and mining.

Nowadays, book manufacturers are mainly supplied by a global paper industry whose environmental and social impacts are little known to professionals and to the general public.

Brazil: symbol of the globalization of paper

In Brazil, where most of the paper pulp required for our novels comes from, world-class conglomerates exploit huge cloned eucalyptus plantations to the detriment of biodiversity, local farmers and water resources

Advocacy for a sustainable book model

Certified wood plantations, recycled fiber or e-readers, our study shows that no single alternative can put an end to societal impacts.

It concludes on the urgent need to set up, in collaboration with all stakeholders, a sustainable publishing sector in France which would address its current critical challenges, among others: a questioning of the systemic overproduction of books, a public support to the paper recycling sector, and a re-location of the manufacturing and printing stages of the value chain.


Links to the report (in French)


In the French press
On the French radio