The Consumer Product Safety Commission has stirred up a hornet’s nest by writing a law requiring extensive (and expensive) third-party testing for lead in any products created for children under 12. Books and audiobooks have not been exempted from this requirement, or from the draconian fines threatened for non-compliance, despite the fact that they have not been a source of high lead levels.
- Read a well-researched article about the law and its potential consequences at Publishers Weekly.
- Read official information about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.
The application of this law to the publishing industry is truly pernicious, especially for small and home businesses. I’ve heard of many who are simply closing out product lines for children, and others who are closing their doors entirely. Writers and editors don’t need a crystal ball to foresee that childrens’ books are going to become more expensive, and fewer will be published, as publication is consolidated in the hands of the mega-publishers who can afford all the testing.
The law goes into effect in its present form on February 10, 2009. While many feel that books will ultimately be exempted from this law, most retailers are not willing to risk $100,000 fines on the chance. Major publishers and industry groups are working toward a resolution, but with the effective date of the law less than a month away, it seems unlikely that the issue will be resolved in time to save the most vulnerable businesses.
What can you do? Because freelance writers and editors are also deeply impacted by CSPIA, NAIWE recommends that you voice your concerns to your congressional representatives, write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, and share the news of this law with other writers and editors. Making it more difficult for publishers, libraries, and booksellers to provide books to children is at best counter-productive. Let’s do what we can to see that it doesn’t happen!
- If you are on Facebook, you may want to join “Rally Against the CPSIA” and sign a petition.