I received this email from my art agent, who received it from an editor at a smaller independent publishing house (excuse the long post and bad breaks, I don't have time to edit this):
Sorry for the mass e-mail but the children's book biz is in a bit of a
crisis and we need your help.
As an unintended consequence of too hastily passed legislation, (The
Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act or CPSIA), intended to protect
children from lead covered toys, children's books have been thrown into the
This well-intentioned but terribly written law could very well put an end to
independent publishing, result in thousands if not millions of books being
pulled off store and library shelves across the country, and leave our
culture with much less diversity in books for our kids. Not to mention the
loss of jobs in children's publishing.
If the CPSIA is applied to paper-based books, all existing paper-based
children¹s books such as The Cat in the Hat, Goodnight Moon and Harry Potter
as well as thousands of textbook titles — tens of millions of books — currently
on the shelves of our nation's classrooms, public and school libraries,
bookstores and in warehouses may simply be removed and destroyed because
they cannot feasibly be tested to assure compliance with these unfounded
toxicity concerns. This would be a financial catastrophe for schools,
libraries, bookstores, and publishers already suffering under a weak
All new paper-based books — not plastic toys in the shape of books — will be
needlessly subjected to expensive and time-consuming testing that will
overwhelm the few laboratories accredited for testing of actual children's
toys and other children's products potentially leading to real threats of
These scenarios will have severe adverse effects on our children's
There is no significant lead in children's books. Paper-based books are
completely safe (novelty books are already tested up the wazoo). This is
like testing milk for lead. However the law was carelessly passed and
now we have to alter it or we (me, my colleagues, schools, libraries,
your kids) could be faced with a catastrophe.
_Action required_: Contact the representatives listed below, and make it
clear that children's books must be exempt from the Act. It has been
documented that paper-based children's books pose no health threat to
readers, and requiring this unnecessary testing places an undue burden
on the publishing industry. Explain that you are very concerned that this is
a potentially catastrophic misapplication of a well intended law and that
you want to add your voice to the concern. There is a script below for your
While lawyers at all the major publishing houses and the American
Association of Publishers are working on this issue 'round the clock,
the deadline looms (the first deadline for the industry is Feb 10!).
PLEASE use the URLs to send a message or call today.
AND, please *pass this on* to anyone you think may be interested in
helping the cause of keeping publishers in the business of publishing
Please use the information below to contact the Representatives listed.
Use the script as a jumping-off point, or feel free to use it exactly as
printed, both for phone calls and for submitting online comments.
Representatives to contact:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi / Online contact form
Washington, DC Office (202) 225-4965
San Francisco Office (415) 556-4862
Senator Chuck Schumer / Online contact form
Washington, DC Office (202) 224-6542
New York City Office (212) 486-4430
Representative Henry Waxman / Online contact form
Washington, DC Office (202) 225-3976
Los Angeles Office (323) 651-1040
Senator Daniel Inouye / Online contact form
Washington, DC Office (202) 224-3934
Honolulu Office (808) 541-2542
Senator Jay Rockefeller / Online contact form
Washington, DC Office (202) 224-6472
Charleston, WV Office (304) 347-5372
I am contacting you to express my concern over H.R. 4040, the Consumer
Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).
While well-intentioned, I believe that this bill is deeply flawed in the
extent to which ordinary children's books are included.
It has been documented that typical paper-based children's books pose no
health threat to readers. The new testing requirements of the CPSIA
place undue burden on the children's book publishing industry --
unnecessarily imposing large costs and inconvenience on publishers and
booksellers -- that can have irrevocable repercussions for our industry,
our customers, and ultimately consumers.
We are in the business of enriching the lives of children through books,
and do so ever mindful of their health and well-being. I urge you to
re-evaluate the CPSIA as it applies to the children's book publishing
industry before irreversible damage is done. Thank you for your time and