I don't feel as guilty about the amount of paper used in books as I do in the newspapers I read, despite reports at the weekend about the amount of energy used in manufacturing paper. For a start, books are much easier to give to a charity shop so that they get re-used. But still, in Britain we use an awful lot of trees in our apparently insatiable urge for print media. You'd think, therefore, that with all this worrying about people not reading as much as they used to, that tree fans would be feeling a certain relief.
Not so. In fact one of my favourite internet sites is Green Metropolis, which is a slightly eccentric online bookshop which gives a share of its profits to the Woodland Trust.
Just like a real-life charity shop, the contents of its virtual shelves
are pretty random, comprising A Level set texts, quality chick lit by
Marion Keyes, and the obligatory half-read copy of White Teeth.
Best of all, just like a real charity shop, you'll occasionally
find a real treasure. And every book is £3.75 including postage. Which
seems expensive, when you think that most charity shop books are more
like £1.99. But look closer, and you'll find that Green Metropolis also
conceals a sophisticated book-swapping system - because you can sell
your second-hand books through them and receive £3 for everything you
sell. So each new title you buy from the site will actually only cost
75p, as long as you sell something else too.
Finally, if you're not convinced by that, look at this way - buying
online, you won't end up accidentally also buying any of those really
amusing charity shop ornaments that your boyfriend totally hates.