HANCOX, Ralph




Author Tags: Fiction, Publishing

In 2009, the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, under the aegis of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, published Managing the Publishing Process, a 250 page text by Ralph Hancox, Professional Fellow and Adjunct Professor Emeritus at the Centre.

Hancox, who retired after some 50 years in the publishing industry in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Italy - - - including 16 years as CEO, chairman and president of The Reader's Digest Association (Canada) Ltd. - - - taught Topics in Publishing Management at SFU's Master of Publishing program for almost ten years upon his retirement. He was 80 in 2009.

The book, an outcome of his lecture and seminar notes, is organized along the lines of the Topics seminars. It opens with the Nature of Management that, says Hancox, must take into account not only societal and ethical values, but at the same time produce an efficient organization, achieve results in ways that optimize the requirements of employees and, for profitability and survival, achieve the objectives of the organization's purpose and mission . The Topics to achieve these ideals of management dealt with the details of: Management Strategies, Publishing Functions, Organization of the Enterprise, Motivation, Salary Structures, Financial Models, Publishing Markets, Production Management, and Business Environments.

In his Foreword to the book, Dr. Rowland Lorimer, Founding Director of the CCSP, said: "(Hancox's) influence has been felt, not just by students, but by the (Master of Publishing) program as a whole. A concern for helping management permeate the program, not only in courses that deal directly with management, but in courses on editorial; design and production; law, policy, and practice; history; and technology, as applied to books, magazine, and on-line publishing.

"Managing the Publishing Process," says Professor Lorimer, "preserves the foundation of Hancox's valued contributions. It brings research, and theory to publishing management, as befits professional training. No book can embody the richness of the experience Hancox brought to his classes, but this one - - - with its theoretical models and real-life examples - - - provides a foundation and inspiring environment for instructors and students to learn management principles and practices.

As Managing the Publishing Process makes clear, in publishing, it is the process that must be managed - - - not the people, nor the various tasks that make up the process. Hancox never tires of pointing our that purpose and mission drive strategy; strategy drives operational planning; operational plans drive management; management drives process organization; effective organization drives results; and results drive survival and continuity. His success as a manager and mentor is a tribute to this philosophy."

[Material from an SFU Press Release]

Ralph Hancox began to have his fiction published in 2015 [see press release below].

Ralph Hancox's third novel in two years, The Ape and the Peacock (Fictive Press 2016), emanates from his social conscience. Set in the fictional Canadian province of Superior, his story spans a few days in November of 1957, following the paths of two miscreants and their differing fates. As the lives of several high-level government officials and a colourful cast of “destitutes” are forever altered, Hancox explores the unequal consequences for the privileged and the dispossessed.

BOOKS:

Managing the Publishing Process (Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing 2009)

Knock, Knock -- "Who's there?"
HV Press, Victoria, BC - - 2010
Print on Demand
Island Blue/Printorium Bookworks
978-0-9866334-3-0

Dear Mr Porter, Sir
HV Press, Victoria, BC - - 2010
Island Blue/Printorium Bookworks
Print on Demand
978-0-9866334-0-9

The Latte Project
HV Press, Victoria, BC - - 2011
Island Blue/Printorium Bookworks
978-0-9866334-2-3

Con Job (Book I of The Fabufestan Exposés) Fictive Press 2015

Scandalous (Book II of The Fabufestan Exposés) Fictive Press 2015

The Ape and the Peacock (Fictive Press 2016) ISBN 1927663334, $17.99

[BCBW 2016] "Publishing"

Publisher's Summary
Press Release (2011)



Ralph Hancox at 82 (Canadian Nieman Fellow, ’66) recently published his fourth book since retiring (so to speak) as Professional Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University.

His first book, written on retirement in 2007, was Managing the Publishing Process (CCSP Press ― ISBN 978-0-9738727-1-2). The purpose of this material was to supply a text for Topics in Publishing Management, a course that Hancox had taught for ten years in the Master of Publishing degree program at the Centre.
This was followed on a much lighter note in 2009 by Dear Mr. Porter, Sir, (HV press Victoria, BC ― ISBN 978-0-9866334-0-9), a tribute to a distinguished Ontario wood sculptor to celebrate the sculptor’s 90 th birthday. It contained photographs of a selection of Porter’s work, taken by the author, interspersed with samples of witty correspondence between Porter and Hancox. This exchange began in July 1968 ― when Hancox was a newspaper editor. It continued until the sculptor, a professional librarian, died in 2010.

The next two books, fictional treatment of contemporary challenges facing new generations of humanity, arose from various conversations and discussions with fellow retirees, family members, and concerned professionals. Hancox concluded from these that among the worst contemporary scourges, apart from warfare, that ― exist in worldwide in social environments and had to be endured by a law-abiding populace were:
• the illicit, enormously widespread, and dangerously debilitating drug trade;
• the illegal trafficking in disadvantaged people from all over the world;
• the worldwide plight― that millions, even billions, of people in the aging populations have to suffer ― that arises from the lack of adequate medical attention, isolation, poverty, and physical, mental, and economic abuse.

This led Hancox into a resolve to research in depth, through the Internet, and to plan a trilogy on these subjects. He began with the drug trade The Latte Project ― an acronym for Look At The Evidence (also from the HV press Victoria, BC ― ISBN 978-0-9866334-2-3), that went unpublished until 2011. The tale was told through the experiences of a documentary film-maker whose staff became increasingly aghast at the discrepancies in law enforcement at the level of the drug cartels and the low-life dealers and distributors.
Next came Knock, Knock ― Who’s there? (also published by HV Press in 2011 ― ISBN 978-0-9866334-3-0) that told the story, again through the experiences of the documentary film-maker, of distinctions in government policies for the treatment illicit refugees, smuggled ‘immigrants’ from various countries who paid ‘skinheads’ to transport them from the undeveloped world to prosperous democracies, and the traffic in women and children for sexual purposes.

The third book in the trilogy, dealing with aging populations, is still in the research stage. As with all his publications, Hancox who is conscious of the enormous, and egregiously wasteful use of paper in the publishing industry ― and the devastation this causes in the decimation of Canadian forests ― makes his books available through the ‘print-on-demand’ process.


Environmental Consequences of Our Reliance on the Printed Word
Essay


from Nieman Reports, Fall 2002
Environmental Consequences of Our Reliance on the Printed Word

-- Waste and pollution are the result of the paper that fuels the timber industry.

By Ralph Hancox

One part of a great conundrum of our time is that, psychologically, the most efficient way to convey literate intellectual property from one mind to another is through the silent reading of words and graphics printed on paper. The printed word virtually defines our society. The first intellectual skill we acquire as children, after learning to talk, is the ability to read. We read to learn, to entertain ourselves, to enlighten our understanding of society and of the universe, to protect our rights and freedoms, and to keep abreast of our times and the discoveries of our contemporaries.

It is no accident, then, that print has become a dominant medium in the transfer of complex information despite the warnings of Marshall McLuhan about the pervasive negative influence on print of radio and television and despite the digital revolutions of the last century.

Paralleling the growth in literacy, and in search of many noble (and occasionally frankly ignominious) objectives, more paper and ink are consumed industrially today than at any time in history. And that consumption shows no signs of abating.

The paradox is that the production of the printed word is arguably the most egregiously wasteful and obsolete industrial process of our age. No other activity in a contemporary industrial society comes as close to the enormous devastation of natural resources, to the accumulation and propagation of redundant information, or to the mountains of discarded rubbish to be disposed of, than the publishing industries.

In the half a century that I have been variously employed in publishing, the depredations of the environment and the problems associated with garbage disposal have mounted almost daily and continue to do so. Environmentalists should take a look in their search for scapegoats at the contribution publishing has made to the accumulation of human detritus and see what is required in the process of transferring intellectual property, via print, on paper.

Paper today, of course, starts with trees. Some plastics are currently used and so are a few other natural fibers like cotton, sisal and hemp. But trees are overwhelmingly the base raw material of the printed word. To satisfy the current pulp, paper and lumber demand from Canadian forests we annually cut or clear more than one million hectares of forest growth—approxi-mately 4,000 square miles. The area implicated is equivalent to clearing a parcel of land the boundaries of which stretch from Buffalo, New York, 30 miles north to Niagara Falls, 70 miles east along the shore of Lake Ontario to Rochester, and 85 miles west back to Buffalo twice each year. In Ontario, Canada, we cut or clear an area equivalent to 46 kilometers square (29 miles square) each year. And, in provincial pulp and paper production, we are led only by Quebec in quantity produced.

The trees involved that are “harvested” are at least 25 years old and frequently—as in British Columbia, which is third in provincial output— much older. The cut timber is ground to wood chips for shipment, or is transported directly, to pulp and paper mills to be converted into pulp that is either shipped as such or made directly into paper.

The process of making industrial web paper is at once awesome, miraculous and a prodigious engineering accomplishment. It takes place on industrial papermaking machines—these are about 300 meters in length and 60 meters wide—and consume immense amounts of natural water that is discharged back into the environment, after the papermaking process, as a largely sulfurous effluent. Engineering has not yet provided an adequate solution to disposing of the noxious effluent that the process produces. That is yet to come.

In 1999, Canadian shipments of pulp and paper amounted to some 31 million metric tons, with sales of $22 billion (Canadian). Last year, Canadian production of newsprint, pulp, packaging and printing and writing papers all increased about 10 percent over the previous year. That growth continues.

The domestic destination for the enormous stream of resulting paper is—for the most part—the publishing industry: that is to say newspaper, magazine and book publishers, with a significant amount going to the direct marketing and advertising industries. And here the vexing conflict begins between the most efficient way of transferring complex knowledge and the spectacular waste and hazards of the manufacturing process needed to do so. Printing requires volatile inks. The solvents for these inks are as noxious to the atmospheric environment as the effluent from pulp and paper manufacture is to streams and rivers. Still, efforts to “scrub” the evaporating solvents before they are released into the air are being made and, to some extent, enforced.

It is estimated that 47.7 percent of Canada’s 10,820,000 households take a daily newspaper—the most visible daily result of papermaking and printing. Some take more than one. The average weight of newsprint delivered to the doors of households in metropolitan areas and across Canada each week is about 2.43 kilograms (5.35 lbs.). Thus to supply all subscribers who take a local newspaper and those who take a metropolitan or national daily in addition, newspaper publishers must distribute some 12,500 metric tons (13,800 tons) of newsprint to Canadian households around the country each week.

The implications of this on the efficiency of transmitting a plethora of information thus produced to the recipient are environmentally catastrophic.

The Globe and Mail edition of a Thursday, for example, customarily contains 120 pages—the equivalent of three-and-a-half 240-page paperback books—much more on a Saturday. That’s about 210,000 words awaiting a reader. A good reader, taking in about 300 words a minute, would need 11 hours and 30 minutes to read the content of all 120 pages.

The Globe and Mail is just a convenient example and not particularly singled out. A similar case could be made with The Toronto Star, the National Post, The Vancouver Sun, or any large metropolitan daily in Canada.

Statistics Canada reports that, on average, only 34 percent of the adult population would spend one hour and 18 minutes a day reading books, magazines and newspapers. Women spend slightly more time reading than men do. The majority of Canadian adults 15 years of age and over spend less than 24 minutes in daily reading—compared to two hours and 12 minutes at the TV set or VCR. (These statistics don’t take into account the reading time devoted to education, incidentally. Nine percent of adults 15 and over spend an average of six hours a day in educational pursuits, so there is more reading done there.)

But the point is made. Large amounts, up to 90 percent of printed pages in newspapers, go unread. No one reads the entire stock tables, for example. Nor every word of the report on business. Nor all the classified ads. Not many women, statistics show, read much in the sports section.

Special advertising supplements and inserts are largely ignored by both sexes, as are weekly giveaways, fliers and the newsprint advertising that reaches most metropolitan and urban households today. Households generally throw out their newspapers each day or each week. So the process of making data available, that began by cutting down a tree, pulping the log, making the paper, printing the material, distributing to the household, ends unceremoniously in the recycling bin. The majority of the content of Canada’s 106 daily newspapers is thus entirely redundant and unread.

How about magazines? For the 1,552 Canadian magazine publications reported to Statistics Canada there is a slightly different, better, although not very encouraging story. Magazine readership—particularly by those who have a subscription—is more assiduous than that of newspapers. Better than half of a magazine’s content is read by about 65 percent of its readership for most paid circulation consumer magazines. For the controlled circulation periodicals—and this includes much of Canada’s business press—the story is very different. Few of these publications are more than glanced at.

Subscribers keep paid circulation consumer magazines around the household—normally until the next issue arrives. Some, like Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Canadian Living, and other such magazines, are kept in the house for several months, sometimes for years—though, in that time, they are seldom if ever referred to.

Newspapers and magazines have multiple readers—anything from 2.6 to 3.7 readers per copy, and these publications are picked up and read on more than one occasion. So-called newsstand magazine and newspaper copies—in reality, single-copy sales mostly at supermarkets—tell a different story. To keep sales racks full, for every single magazine copy sold, one is thrown away. Canadian Living, for example, with a single-copy sale of 160,000 copies a month, must throw out the equivalent numbers unopened and unread. Enormous quantities of glossy magazine publications are similarly thrown out, unopened and unread, in North America every year. The covers are simply torn off by the retailers and sent back to the distributors for a credit on their portion of the cover price. The insides are dumped for recycling.

With paperback and hardcover books, the fate of the pages is not so different. For every popular paperback book that is sold, at least one—and sometimes as many as three—is thrown away; shelf life in a retail store for a popular paperback is about six weeks. About eight times a year, the paperback stock is cleaned out and replaced with new titles. For some popular authors, with a print run in the millions, hundreds of thousands of copies are junked every four to six weeks.

A purchased copy of a hardcover or paperback book—except for those purchased by libraries—is normally read once before it is put on a bookshelf to be warehoused for the lifetime of the owner. It is seldom referred to again. Up to 50 percent of all hardcover titles found in independent and big-box bookstores—fiction and nonfiction—are returned to publishers each year either to be remaindered—that is sold at or below production cost—or to be warehoused prior to destruction. And 15 to 20 percent of the content of landfill sites in North America before the advent of recycling consisted of dumped paper.

Today, recycling is alleviating part of the paper wastage and the decimation of forests. But the slogan that a product or publication contains recycled paper bears close scrutiny. Recycling of paper in the printing industry usually means the recycling of pre-consumer waste. This waste is simply make-ready paper used in setting up papermaking machines and printing presses before the production or the publishing print-run starts. Recycled printed paper, because of the progressive reduction in the length of the cellulose fibers caused by the recycling process, diminishes in grade with each recycling from fine papers, newsprint and other white printable stock, to corrugated board and packaging material. And the effluent from recycling—bleaching agents and the like—is sometimes worse than the reducing effluents from the papermaking process in the first place.

This all adds up to a gloomy picture of the publishing industry—one that is ignored, overlooked and pushed aside in our considerations of those segments that are classed as a sensitive cultural industry in Canada in need of protection from the predatory forces of foreign ownership and competition.

Is relief in sight? Most newspaper news content is now available online. Technology and digital data processing hold out some hope. For example, printing-on-demand is a looming potential book publishing innovation. One merely needs to retain digitized text and illustrations electronically and load onto a digital printer to provide an immediate copy when needed at the point of sale.

Downloading digitized text onto reusable, sensitized, plastic pages is another innovation under experiment. In this ingenious process it is possible to download up to 20 pages of readable text from the computers of experimental publishers onto a paper substitute that has all the appearances of a small book. When that has been read, it can be electronically deleted, ready to download the next 20 pages—on an endlessly reusable publishing page.

Cost is the current obstacle to the widespread use of that technology. There are doubtless other potential advances in the offing but, as always, economic factors will determine the rate and extent of their implementation. At the moment, there is an abundant supply of trees. Insect infestation and forest fires destroy more forest than is cut and cleared annually for pulp and paper in Canada.

The pulp and paper, publishing and printing industries are worth nearly $100 billion (Canadian) annually to the Canadian economy and provide employment for better than 500,000 people. Forest industries are by far the largest net export component of Canada’s international trade and are its most widely dispersed industrial employer, supporting 350 or more communities across Canada.

And, when all is said and done, the printed word—despite the formidable inefficiency, waste and redundancy of content it carries in all its manifestations—is still the most profoundly effective means of transferring intellectual property from one mind to another. And there’s the dilemma.

[From Nieman Reports, used by permission of the author.]



What publishers prefer you not to know
Essay (2009)




by Ralph Hancox, Professional Fellow Emeritus, The Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, January 2009

One of the great conundrums of our time is that, psychologically, the most efficient way to convey literate intellectual property from one mind to another is through the silent reading of words and graphics printed on paper.
The printed word virtually defines our society. The first intellectual skill we acquire as children, after learning to talk, is the ability to read.
We read to learn, to entertain ourselves, to enlighten our understanding of society, of the universe, to protect our rights and freedoms, and to keep abreast of our times and the discoveries of our contemporaries.
It is no accident then, that print has become a dominant medium in the transfer of complex information — despite the radio, television, and digital revolutions of the last century.
Paralleling the growth in literacy, and in search of many noble (and occasionally frankly ignominious) objectives, more paper and ink are consumed industrially today than at any time in history.
And that consumption shows no signs of abating.
The paradox is that the production of the printed word is the most egregiously wasteful and obsolete industrial process of our age.
No other activity in a contemporary industrial society comes as close to the enormous devastation of natural resources, to the accumulation and propagation of redundant information, or to the mountains of discarded rubbish to be disposed of, than the publishing industry.
In the half a century that I have been variously employed in publishing, the depredations of the environment, and the problems associated with garbage disposal, have mounted almost daily and continue to do so.
Let’s take a look for a moment at the contribution publishing has made to the accumulation of human detritus and see what is required in the process of transferring intellectual property, via print, on paper.
Paper today, of course, starts with trees. Some plastics are currently used and so are a few other natural fibres like cotton, sisal and hemp. But trees in our society are overwhelmingly the base raw material of the printed word.
To satisfy the current pulp, paper, and lumber demand from Canadian forests, we annually cut or clear more than one million hectares of forest growth — approximately 4,000 square miles.
The area implicated is equivalent to clearing a parcel of land the boundaries of which stretch from Vancouver, BC, east to Abbotsford, north to Hope, and west back to Vancouver each year.
In Ontario, an area equivalent to 45 kilometers square is cut or cleared each year. And, in provincial pulp and paper production, Ontario is led only by Quebec in quantity produced.
The trees involved that are ‘harvested’ are at least 25 years old and frequently — as in British Columbia which is third in provincial output — much older.
The cut timber for paper is ground to wood chips for shipment, or is transported directly, to pulp and paper mills to be converted into pulp that is either shipped as such or made directly into paper.
An industrial papermaking machine of the kind that newspapers use is a major capital investment in any comparison. It is about 300 meters in length and 60 meters wide. The process of making industrial web paper is at once awesome, miraculous, and a prodigious engineering accomplishment.
Nonetheless, engineering has not yet provided an adequate solution to disposing of the noxious effluent that the process produces. That is yet to come.
In 1999, Canadian shipments of pulp and paper amounted to some 31 million tonnes, with sales of $22 billion. Last year, Canadian production of newsprint, pulp, packaging and printing and writing papers all increased about 10 percent over the previous year. That growth continues.
The domestic destination for the enormous stream of resulting paper is — for the most part — the publishing industry: that is to say newspaper, magazine and book publishers, with a significant amount going to the direct marketing and advertising industries.
And here the vexing conflict begins between the most efficient way of transferring complex knowledge and the spectacular waste and hazards of the manufacturing process needed to do so.
Printing requires volatile inks. The solvents for these inks are as noxious to the atmospheric environment as the effluent from pulp and paper manufacture is to streams and rivers. Still, efforts to ‘scrub’ the evaporating solvents before they are released into the air are being made and, to some extent, enforced.
It is estimated that 47.7 percent of Canada’s 10,820,000 house-holds take a daily newspaper — the most visible daily result of papermaking and printing.
Some take more than one. The average weight of newsprint delivered to the door of such households each week in a metropolitan area is about 2.43 kilograms.
Thus to supply, say, Globe and Mail subscribers, who take a local newspaper in addition, publishers must distribute about 12,500 tonnes of newsprint to households around the country each week.
Consider the implications of this on the efficiency of transmitting to the recipient the plethora of information thus produced.
Let’s look at the Globe and Mail edition of a typical Thursday as an example. It will contain about 120 pages — the equivalent of three-and-a-half 240-page paperback books.
That’s about 210,000 words awaiting a reader. A good reader, taking in about 300 words a minute, would need 11 hours and 30 minutes to read the content of all 120 pages.
The Globe and Mail is just a convenient example and not particularly singled out. A similar case could be made with the Toronto Star, the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, or any large metropolitan daily.
Statistics Canada reports that, on average, 34 percent of the adult population spends one hour and eighteen minutes a day reading books, magazines and newspapers. Women spend slightly more time reading than men do.
The majority of Canadian adults 15 years of age and over, spend less than 24 minutes in daily reading — compared to two hours and 12 minutes at the TV set or VCR.
These statistics don’t take into account the reading time devoted to education, incidentally. Nine percent of adults 15 and over spend an average of six hours a day in educational pursuits, so there is more reading done here.
But the point is made. Large areas, up to 90 percent of the printed pages in newspapers, go unread.
No one reads the entire stock tables, for example. Nor every word of the Report on Business. Nor all the classified ads. Not many women read much in the sports section.
Special advertising supplements and inserts are largely ignored by both sexes. As are weekly giveaways, fliers and the newsprint advertising that reach most metropolitan and urban households today.
Households generally throw out their newspapers each day or each week. So the process of making data available, that began by cutting down a tree, pulping the log, making the paper, printing the material, distributing to the household, ends unceremoniously in the recycling bin.
The majority of the content of Canada’s 106 daily newspapers is thus entirely redundant and unread.
How about magazines?
For the 1,552 Canadian magazine publications reported to Statistics Canada there is a slightly different, better, although not very encouraging story. Magazine readership — particularly by those who have a subscription — is more assiduous than that of newspapers.
Better than 50 percent of a magazine’s content is read by about 65 percent of its readership for most paid circulation consumer magazines.
For the controlled circulation periodicals — and this includes much of Canada’s business press — the story is very different. Few of these publications are more than glanced at.
Subscribers keep paid circulation consumer magazines around the household — normally until the next issue arrives.
Some, like The Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Canadian Living and other such magazines are kept in the house for several months, sometimes for years — though, in that time, seldom if ever referred to.
Newspapers and magazines have multiple readers — anything from 2.6 to 3.7 readers per copy and these publications are picked up and read on more than one occasion.
So-called newsstand magazine and newspaper copies — in reality, single-copy sales mostly at supermarkets — tell a different story.
For every single magazine copy sold, one is thrown away. Canadian Living for example, with a single-copy sale of 160,000 copies a month, must throw out the equivalent numbers unopened and unread. For Chatelaine the figure is 32,000 thrown out each month.
Enormous quantities of glossy magazine publications are similarly thrown out, unopened and unread, in North America every year.
The covers are simply torn off by the retailers and sent back to the distributors for a credit on their portion of the cover price. The insides are dumped for recycling.
What of the paperback book that is read from cover to cover?
Comprehensive statistics about the paperback book publishing industry are virtually impossible to come by. But these figures we do know.
For every popular paperback book that is sold, at least one — and sometimes as many as three — is thrown away.
Shelf life in a retail store for a popular paperback is about six weeks.
After exposure for this time, the staff of bookstores, supermarkets, airport newsstands, convenience stores, and wherever else they are sold, rip off the front cover of unsold copies (you’ve all seen the warning inside the book about sales of coverless copies) and send millions of covers in for credits.
The core of the book is simply dumped for recycling.
About eight times a year, the paperback stock is cleaned out and replaced with new titles. For some popular authors, with a print run in the millions, hundreds of thousands of copies are junked every four to six weeks.
In Canada, some 10,000 new hardcover titles and trade paperbacks are published annually. These are the darlings of the Canadian cultural nationalists and various departments of the Federal and Provincial governments in Canada.
(In the United States and the United Kingdom, ten times that number is published each year — just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the book publishing industry and the chances of an author being read in the Northern Hemisphere).
The print order for a Canadian book will normally range from 2,000 copies up to 10,000. A best seller is said to be anything between five and ten thousand copies in Canada. The print run for some exceptional titles will run into the hundreds of thousands of copies
A purchased copy of a hardcover or paperback book — except for those purchased by libraries — is normally read once before it is put on a bookshelf to be warehoused for the lifetime of the owner. It is seldom referred to again.
The life of university textbooks, in professional disciplines particularly, is seldom longer than five years before their authors publish subsequent editions. Thus books that cost $80-$100 these days are bought by students and are redundant at the end of their degree courses.
Some books, encyclopedia, dictionaries, and reference works, containing formidable catalogues of information in a thousand or more pages, will be purchased by the general public in the interest of educating their children, and (like telephone directories) be consulted about a dozen times a year.
Up to fifty percent of all hardcover titles found in independent and big-box bookstores— fiction and non-fiction — are returned to publishers each year either to be remaindered — that is sold at or below production cost — or to be warehoused prior to destruction.
Is it any wonder, given these facts, that 15 to 20 percent of the content of landfill sites in North America, before the advent of recycling, consisted of dumped paper?
Today, recycling is alleviating part of the paper wastage and the decimation of forests. But, when you see the slogan that a product or publication contains recycled paper, look closely.
Recycling of paper in the printing industry usually means the recycling of pre-consumer waste. This waste is simply make-ready paper used in setting up paper-making machines and printing presses before the publishing print-run starts.
Recycled paper, because of the progressive reduction in the length of the cellulose fibres caused by the recycling process, diminishes in grade with each recycling from fine papers, newsprints and other white printable stock, to corrugated board and packaging material.
And the effluent from recycling — bleaching agents and the like — is sometimes worse than the reducing effluents from the paper-making process in the first place
This all adds up to a gloomy picture of the publishing industry — one that is ignored, overlooked and pushed aside in our considerations of those segments that are classed as a sensitive cultural industry in need of protection from the predatory forces of foreign ownership and competition.
What relief is in sight?
Technology and digital data processing hold out some hope.
For example, printing-on-demand is a looming potential book publishing innovation.
One merely needs to retain the digitized text and illustrations electronically and load onto a digital printer to provide an immediate copy when needed at the point of sale.
Downloading digitized text onto reusable, sensitized, plastic pages is another innovation under experiment.
In this ingenious process it is possible to download up to 20 pages of readable text from the computers of experimental publishers onto a paper substitute that has all the appearances of a small book. When that has been read, it can be electronically deleted ready to download the next 20 pages — on an endlessly reusable publishing page.
Cost is the current obstacle to the widespread use of that technology.
There are doubtless other potential advances in the offing, but as always, economic factors will determine the rate and extent of their implementation.
At the moment, there is an abundant supply of trees. Insect infestation and forest fires destroy more forest than is cut and cleared annually for pulp and paper in Canada.
The pulp and paper, publishing and printing industries are worth nearly $100 billion annually to the Canadian economy and provide employment for better than 500,000 people.
Forest industries are by far the largest net export component of our international trade and are our most widely dispersed industrial employer, supporting 350 or more communities across Canada.
And, when all is said and done, the printed word despite the formidable inefficiency, waste, and redundancy of content it carries in all its manifestations, is still the most profoundly effective means of transferring intellectual property from one mind to another.
And that is the nub of the great conundrum.



The Fabufestan Exposés
Press Release (2015)



The Fabufestan Exposés (Books I & II) by Ralph Hancox: Con Job and Scandalous

Ralph Hancox, Professional Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Emeritus, at Simon Fraser University's Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing, and author of Managing the Publishing Process, a groundbreaking book designed to demonstrate how creativity and commerce can be managed in a facilitative environment, has a social conscience. His concern about “major social horrors confronting humanity” prompted this former president of Reader’s Digest Canada write the The Fabufestan Exposés. The first novel in this series tackles the illicit drug trade; the second, human trafficking. Hancox combines compelling details about these issues with an engaging narrative that follows the tribulations of a documentary film crew.

In Con Job (Book I of The Fabufestan Exposés), Gregor “Legs” Morowitz, on parole and virtually destitute, is offered his old job back at a Canadian documentary and advertising company. The owners want Legs to head the team investigating the illegal drug trade in North America for a new TV documentary series called Look at the Evidence. As production begins, Legs faces a wary, even hostile, crew, and then a series of personal setbacks. As the company battles anonymous enemies on multiple fronts, the owners take decisive but sometimes wrong-headed action. Things are not quite as they appear. Getting to the truth demands a hard look at the evidence.

In Scandalous (Book II of The Fabufestan Exposés), the documentary crew discovers that the subject of its latest TV documentary has morphed into three separate issues: human trafficking, people smuggling and bogus refugees. Meanwhile, the new provincial government is reeling from its first political crisis—a high profile sex scandal involving three of its elected members, charged with sex tourism and trafficking underage Thai prostitutes to Canada. The premier entrusts Angus McRossie, her Minister for Democratic Action, with crisis management. McRossie’s wife objects to his involvement in such a sordid affair, and McRossie’s personal life and political career start to unravel from there.