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31 May 2021

‘International book distribution is a lot more sustainable this way'

In the summer of 2020 the international publisher SAGE and CB started a pilot to make the titles of SAGE more available for Dutch bookshops and webshops. The pilot succeeded and also had a positive effect on the publisher's sustainable footprint.

Zoë Seaton of SAGE and Mathijs Suidman of CB worked closely together in this pilot with the goal of delivering the titles of SAGE within 24 hours to retailers and consumers (mostly students). Zoë says: 'Fast delivery is important, but the real driver behind our collaboration is sustainability.' Mathijs: 'Most of the SAGE’s titles are already available for print on demand. A good choice. It provides flexibility; a book is only printed when it is ordered or we can quickly produce a small print run. This makes it easy to move with market demand without unnecessary inventory costs or residual stock. SAGE also benefits from the fact that they don't have to transport books from the UK. That saves on transport costs and CO2 emissions.

SAGE also has a number of major bestsellers. For these titles it is economically interesting to produce and hold larger stocks. Through CB, SAGE easily combines delivery from stock and delivery via print on demand. The customer experiences no difference and it’s a lot more efficient for both customer and publisher.

Local production

Zoë: 'The expansion of the pilot project ensures a further reduction in worldwide transport and reduces the risk of residual stocks that we might have to destruct. This is not only economically but also ecologically important. We have not yet calculated the positive impact this will have on the environment, but that is an interesting calculation to make later on in the process. Local on-demand printing of books is a sustainable solution that is actually quite logical for any internationally operating publisher.'

'Foreign publishers traditionally work with multiple international wholesalers to get to every (online) bookstore in the world,' adds Mathijs. And we would like to make that logistically smarter. Not only to provide better service to demanding consumers and to reduce costs, but also from a sustainability point of view because it leads to fewer logistical movements.'

Zoë and Mathijs are both studying for a Master's degree in which sustainability is an important subject. Mathijs is studying strategic leadership in Groningen and Zoë is studying Regenerative Economics at Schumacher College. They find each other in their strong drive to make the supply chain more sustainable. SAGE recently signed the United Nations SDG Publishers Compact.

SAGE has been a long-time customer of CB's partner Printforce. Printforce, CB and SAGE previously worked together to ensure that the distribution of books in the EU also ran smoothly after the Brexit.

About SAGE

SAGE is a global academic publisher of books, journals and a growing suite of library products and services.

Driven by the belief that social and behavioral sciences can improve society, we focus on publishing impactful research and enabling robust research methodology. We produce high-quality educational materials that support teachers to prepare the citizens, policy makers, educators, and researchers of the future. Each year we publish more than 1,000 journals and 900 new books worldwide. We also offer library products and services, including archives, data, case studies, and video. SAGE is majority owned by our founder, Sara Miller McCune, and after her lifetime will be owned by a charitable trust that ensures the company's continued independence