Friday, January 23, 2009

Public notice: Children's publishing is in danger of being wiped out!

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):

Hello, everyone

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
regulatory hopper.

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
lead toxicity.

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
children's books.

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

*Suggested Script

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
* *


princesstomato said...

Thanks for posting all the contact info!

Andy Tate of Storybooks-4-kids said...

Don, I can't imagine every school, library, children's book store and daycare center the nation throwing out or burning books,(but then again??) a huge percentage of children's books are manufactured outside the US in places like , China, Korea, Italy, Brazil and the UK to mention a few. They may or may not be in compliance with the CPSC Children’s Product Safety Laws. It seems this law will destroy the hobby-craft artist industry and anyone selling stuff on Ebay, Thrift and Consignment Stores, hobby stores and big retail craft stores like Michael's. There is a lot of confusion about what impact may be. In any case the article below from the Baltimore Examiner (online web site) may give some clues and few more facts: I hope this helpful.
(scroll down for the stroy) or click on the link above the ext below)

Andy Tate - Children's Author/illustrator
20 Towne Drive, PMB#109
Bluffton, SC 29910-4200
Telephone: (843) 815-9290
January 8, 2009
Release #09-086 CPSC Recall Hotline: (800) 638-2772
CPSC Media Contact: (301) 504-7908

CPSC Clarifies Requirements of New Children’s Product Safety Laws Taking Effect in February
Guidance Intended for Resellers of Children’s Products, Thrift and Consignment Stores
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In February 2009, new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) take effect. Manufacturers, importers and retailers are expected to comply with the new Congressionally-mandated laws. Beginning February 10, 2009, children’s products cannot be sold if they contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) total lead. Certain children’s products manufactured on or after February 10, 2009 cannot be sold if they contain more than 0.1% of certain specific phthalates or if they fail to meet new mandatory standards for toys.

Under the new law, children’s products with more than 600 ppm total lead cannot lawfully be sold in the United States on or after February 10, 2009, even if they were manufactured before that date. The total lead limit drops to 300 ppm on August 14, 2009.

The new law requires that domestic manufacturers and importers certify that children’s products made after February 10 meet all the new safety standards and the lead ban. Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.

The new safety law does not require resellers to test children’s products in inventory for compliance with the lead limit before they are sold. However, resellers cannot sell children’s products that exceed the lead limit and therefore should avoid products that are likely to have lead content, unless they have testing or other information to indicate the products being sold have less than the new limit. Those resellers that do sell products in violation of the new limits could face civil and/or criminal penalties.

When the CPSIA was signed into law on August 14, 2008, it became unlawful to sell recalled products. All resellers should check the CPSC Web site ( for information on recalled products before taking into inventory or selling a product. The selling of recalled products also could carry civil and/or criminal penalties.

While CPSC expects every company to comply fully with the new laws resellers should pay special attention to certain product categories. Among these are recalled children’s products, particularly cribs and play yards; children’s products that may contain lead, such as children’s jewelry and painted wooden or metal toys; flimsily made toys that are easily breakable into small parts; toys that lack the required age warnings; and dolls and stuffed toys that have buttons, eyes, noses or other small parts that are not securely fastened and could present a choking hazard for young children.

The agency has underway a number of rulemaking proposals intended to provide guidance on the new lead limit requirements. Please visit the CPSC website at for more information.

So does this mean children's books will be included in this group? Not necessarily, according to Bookselling This Week. many consumers have begun to question the possibility, the bigger concern is with book-related items from China, such as bookmarks and cardboard backed books, stuffed animals and even cloth books.

"The customers' questions raised concerns for Strandberg, who said he didn't enjoy the prospect that, at this hour in November, consumers were shying away from Chinese manufactured children's books, "unless they're right to do so," he added. "I'd like to know that, too." To that point, Strandberg queried, "Is there one stop in the publishing world to go and discover if book ink in China certainly does, or certainly does not, contain lead?"


Send the link for this page to a friend! The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicals - contributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270, or visit CPSC's web site at To join a CPSC email subscription list, please go to Consumers can obtain this release and recall information at CPSC's Web site at

The short answer to that question, unfortunately, is no. However, an informal survey of several publishers about printing methods and safety regulations indicates that fear of lead in book ink may be much ado about nothing. Still, that answer doesn't help a bookseller who has to deal with a customer who reads about recall after recall and decides to question any product with a "Made in China" label. "How do we as a retailer respond to customers who have concerns about the safety of our products?" Strandberg said.

Publishers responding to BTW all noted that product safety was a high priority and said they made sure all their products met all safety guidelines. "I know publishers are concerned and looking into the matter," said Michelle Buyak, marketing director for the Children's Booksellers Council, "and are being sure that any books being printed are safe. Our first customers are the kids."

So, while it doesn't seem that all books produced in China will be snatched from store shelves right away, the consumer groups will be keeping an eye on them. To protect our children, that can only be a good thing

Brea said...

Scaaaaaaaaary. Thanks for the action info.

Camille said...

The "Made in China" stamp IS eyed with suspicion in this household. On the other hand I am equally worried when I hear those infamous words, "We are from the government and we are here to help."