For all the galloping digitisation of everyday life, we still somehow manage to consume vast quantities of paper. Those of us sentimentally attached to print, and its still unsurpassed "riffle" search function, are uncomfortably aware of the fact that it's not helping with deforestation. (The argument over whether ebooks are greener is not actually as clearcut as one might assume, by the way.) Until now!
A pioneer in so many things, Atwood has chosen the publication of her long-awaited book on science fiction, In Other Worlds, to publicise this as yet rudimentary industry: a commemorative special edition of 300 copies of In Other Worlds has been printed on Second Harvest paper. This is a publishing-grade material manufactured from 36% straw and 64% recycled paper. The paper was developed by Canadian environmental group Canopy, the same people who helped with JK Rowling's drive to make Harry Potter books "forest-friendly". According to a spokesperson, the new paper's move away from reliance on timber of any kind marks "the next step in the revolution for our forests".
At present, it's only a cottage industry, but its makers are confident that with sufficient backing it could supply the mass market, at equivalent cost, with paper whose ecological footprint is half that of wood-pulp products, and leaves our friends the trees untouched.
For once, the PR hyperbole is something you can cheer along: "[The commemorative edition] is the first of its kind! And with it these two titans of futuristic thinking and innovation begin countdown to the launch of a whole new resource sector for North America." If you want to buy one of the commemorative editions it will cost you C$100 (£62), but then early adopters must expect to pay more.