According to a completely unsubstantiated Google search, it takes 20.73 40-foot trees to make 1 ton of paper. The next (and final) Harry Potter book--due for publication in July--is to be 784 pages long and will have an initial printing of 12,000,000. That's an estimated 16,700 tons of paper--or 346,191 trees! Yesterday, Scholastic, Inc--the Potter Publisher--announced an agreement with the Rainforest Alliance to use "a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer waste (pcw) fiber" in the Potter book--that's a savings of 103,857 trees. But what will it cost?

Now UPDATED due to author incompetance.

Again, according to my unsubstantiated Google facts:

Switching from virgin fiber to 30% postconsumer recycled paper equates to a cost increase of approximately 1¢ to 4¢ per book.

Let's take a look at the high end of that--$.04 and assume Scholastic passes the full cost increase through to the market price. Based on Amazon.com's current price ($18.89), that's a .2% increase in the price. Even if the demand for Harry Potter books is highly elastic--let's say the elasticity is 2*--that .2% increase in the price of the book will decrease sales by .4% or 48,000 books. If the profit margin is 10% then that's a ~~$4,800~~ $90,672 loss to the publisher--lower if demand is less elastic.

~~How many more books would the publisher have to sell to break even on the decision to turn Potter a little green? Again, assuming a 10% profit on each book sold, and a sales price of $18.89, Scholastic would have to sell 2,541 additional books to recover the $4,800 loss. That's a sales increase of .02% on the initial printing.~~ That means the decision to go greener would have to result in 48,000 people buying the book who otherwise wouldn't.

I'm guessing it's worth it--either that, or Scholastic is willing to take a whopping ~~$4,800~~ $90,672 hit on profit in return for the goodwill earned by making one of the biggest selling books of all time a little greener.

*The elasticity of demand is the percentage change in quantity demanded resulting from a 1% increase in the price. An elasticity of 2 means that every 1% increase in the price results in a 2% decrease in quantity demanded. Here I have assumed the supply of books is perfectly elastic.