Green marketing tactic: save the planet; don't buy our product

This feels like a new trend to me, although perhaps it's been going on for a little while. The other day, I received an email from Kirkus Reviews, a well-respected book review magazine that has for its audience, librarians, publishing professionals and perhaps the occasional author very eager to see if their book has been reviewed. I got on their mailing list some time ago, and they just sent me an email pitch asking me to subscribe to their magazine.

And how did they try to get me to subscribe? By pointing out the obvious. Um...

Don't subscribe.

Well, I'm exaggerating slightly. They want me to subscribe all right, but they told me and anyone else on their email list that "Kirkus Reviews is pleased to offer an environmentally friendly alternative to our standard print magazine."

The alternative? Subscribe to the online version of the magazine for $37.50 a month (sure, it's pricey for an every day average person, but I'll assume that it's a bargain for libraries and other publishing professionals).

As their email said, "So do your part to reduce your impact on the environment, and get your KirkusReviews.com Month-to-Month plan going today!"

Anyway, I found it interesting that magazines -- at least this one -- may be starting to promote not getting one of their core products, their print publication, and to instead get the digital version, as a benefit to the environment. Still, as innovative as the ploy may be, I don't think a lot of companies are going to jump on this bandwagon.

"Save the planet -- don't buy our product!" Hmmm. It may be a little too much truth in advertising.

Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
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