Saturday, January 31, 2009

If it's Friday after hours it must be time for late-breaking news from CPSC

Everyone should know by now that news that you want to bury should be released late on a Friday afternoon and our friends at the CPSC didn't let us down. Today they announced a one year stay of testing related to CPSIA but they really didn't let anyone off the hook. They make it clear that they expect retailers to comply with the law but basically they won't require testing until the mess can be sorted out.

ALA is reporting that an announcement will be made on Monday regarding libraries but they have no indication that a blanket exemption for books will be made.

The fight goes on...the issue is still very much alive ... I'm tired

Today's CPSIA News Round-up

CNN has a story on CPSIA and Libraries

"While we understand the process the CPSC must carry out in order to ensure this law is properly enforced and that the safety of our nation's children is protected, we believe the commission is wasting time and resources by zeroing in on book publishers and libraries," Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the American Library Association Washington office, said.

Publisher's Weekly is carrying a summary on the request for exemption for books

The CPSC General Counsel has said the Commission would issue a statement interpreting the impact of the Act on schools and libraries—separate from any statements about books as a whole—possibly in the first week of February. The Act is retroactive, meaning that testing would be mandated for all books on store shelves and in libraries and schools, even if manufactured or shipped prior to February 10.

Cute story from local Fox Affiliate with a little boy who wants his books

Daniel Awerbuck says that he would choose a book over a video game any-day. He often comes to the Monterey Public Library and reads books for hours on end. The library says that the law will affect forty thousand children's books that were checked out over ninety thousand times last year. Library Director Kim Bui-Burton say it would be a huge loss to the community and children.

An interesting take on CPSIA and print-on-demand industry

We are a book publisher who thanks to your newsletters have become aware of the benefits of using print-on-demand when introducing new titles or reprinting slower selling titles. Since most of our titles are for children the CPSIA legislation will make it impossible to use print-on-demand for books designed for children 12 and under. At that time third-party testing of at least one book from each and every print run is mandatory. The cost ranges from $120 and up. Your articles project large increases in digital print. How will the loss of the children’s book market affect digital print companies? Are digital printers looking at ways to address this problem?

I could go on and on but quite frankly I need to get some lunch and digest all of this

Thursday, January 29, 2009

ALA - CPSIA - are we ready for some action?

The newest ALA District Dispatch says:

“It is unfortunate that less than two weeks before the new law is set to effect, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has still failed to clarify whether libraries will be exempt from these burdensome requirements,” Congressman Lee said. “While I support any and all efforts to protect our children from harmful chemicals, this is an instance in which good policy has wrongly taken a backseat to good intentions.”

Congressman Lee first contacted the Commission about this issue on January 9, when he discussed it with the Commission’s acting chairman, Nancy A. Nord. That conversation followed up on a request Congressman Lee made to ensure consignment or thrift stores would be exempt from the same burdensome requirements that the libraries are now confronting.

so.. like... what are we supposed to do on February 10th?

I also just read that ALA has submitted comments and

urged the Commission to: (1) Issue guidance or other notification confirming that the new lead limits do not apply to library books and related materials; and (2) Determine by rule that ordinary books do not inherently contain lead or contain lead below the CPSIA lead limits. We believe both of these determinations are consistent with the language and intent of the CPSIA.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This week at ALA

So ALA is meeting in Denver and I only had time to visit the exhibits and not stage some goofy action - turns out I didn't need to - according to Library Journal at the meeting on Sunday the ALA call last week to get Librarians active is doing the trick

So many calls were made, ALA executive director Keith Fiels said yesterday at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, that “this commissioner has subsequently begged us to stop calling.” Now ALA is targeting the other commissioner, Thomas Moore. “I’m sure he can’t wait to hear from you,” ALA President Jim Rettig said, with a touch of irony.

Fiels said, “The commission does, we’ve been told by Congress, has the ability to grant an exemption, either to libraries or specifically for books. If that does not occur, I believe Congress will take action. This is all in negotiation. We’re working against a February 10 deadline.

keeps those phone wires burning folks

Saturday, January 24, 2009

and even more on books and CPSIA

from Publisher's Weekly

Last week, CPSC issued a letter to the AAP further clarifying some of its previous guidance. While not resolving many issues, the letter did confirm that retailers and distributors can rely on a general Certificate of Conformity to continue to sell or distribute books after February 10. Allan Adler, AAP’s v-p for Legal and Government Affairs, notes that many big-box stores and major bookstore chains have been insisting on proof of third-party lead testing leading up to the Act. “Retailers have been very nervous and have been issuing demands to publishers,” he says. “Now they may be able to calm down.” For the purposes of the February 10 deadline, publishers and manufacturers need to provide proof that they have tested the products for lead using some reasonable internal guidelines; the third-party testing requirements kick in in August.

More ALA and CPSIA stuff

District Dispatch from ALA today

“It is completely irresponsible and unacceptable for the CPSC to continue to leave this matter unresolved with the February 10th deadline drawing closer each day,” ALA President Jim Rettig said.

“It is apparent that the CPSC does not fully understand the ramifications this law will have for libraries – and for children – if libraries are not granted an exemption. At this point, we are advising libraries not to take drastic action, such as removing or destroying books, as we continue to hope this matter will be rectified and that the attention will be paid to the products that pose a true threat to children. However, we find it disappointing and shameful that a government agency would continue to leave this matter unsettled when clearly the outcome would virtually shut down our nation’s school and public libraries.”

Latest on CPSIA and ALA and book

courtesy of my State Librarian - sounds like ALA wants librarians to bombard CPSC

A public meeting was held January 22 with Kristina Hatlelid, Directorate for Health Sciences, and other Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff to allow Allan Robert Adler, of the Association of American Publishers, and major publishing companies to discuss the lead content of books. The meeting was a time for the publishing companies to explain their research to the CPSC staff that proves that normal books (non-play, paper books) do not contain lead in the amount specified under the CPSIA. The publishing companies have compiled a group of 300 test results that can be viewed here .

After the meeting, Cheryl Falvey, General Counsel for the CPSC, stated that a decision should be made by the first week of February. She advised libraries not to take any action at this time, and we are hopeful that the Commission's decision will exempt libraries.

Even with her assurances, we must let the CPSC know how important an issue this is to libraries. You can visit their Web site, found here , to submit your comments to the Commission. Explain to the Commission that it is simply impossible for libraries to remove all children's books from the shelves and/or ban children under 12 from the library and still provide the level of service that is needed.

Please feel free to use the sample language below, but personalize it to make your comments known. Studies have shown that individual letters are significantly more effective than form letters, so let's make sure they understand how important their action will be.

As always, thank you for all that you do. The only way we will be successful in ensuring that children will have access to safe books is with a strong grassroots effort. Your comments to the CPSC need to be submitted as soon as possible, so please tell all your friends and family - we need as many people as possible to communicate that this oversight could have lasting ramifications on our children and our


Dear General Counsel Falvey:

It has come to my attention that the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 has been interpreted to include books as a product that must be tested for lead. While I can understand the need to protect children from toxic materials, publishers have already tested the book components and found that the lead levels are lower than the regulations require three years from now. Additionally, all book recalls in the last two decades have been because of toys attached to the books that posed a choking hazard, not the books themselves.

Making these testing regulations retroactive would require both school and public libraries to take drastic steps to come into compliance.
They would either they would have to ban children from their libraries or pull every book intended for children under the age of 12 from their bookshelves at the time children are fostering a lifelong love of
learning and reading.

In order to allow children and families to continue accessing critical library materials, please either exempt books from the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, accept the component tests that have already been done, or exempt all books currently in school and public libraries. This will ensure that our children continue to have access to safe and educational library materials.



Posted by:
Kristin Murphy
Government Relations Specialist
American Library Association - Washington Office
1615 New Hampshire Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-2520
Phone Number: 202.628.8410
Fax: 202.628.8419

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

ALA, CPSIA and books

As of Friday, the American Library Association

has been in discussion with attorneys, other associations and the sponsors of the original bill. Our analysis is that neither the law nor the legislative history indicates any Congressional intention to include books and even textbooks in the law. Please stand by – there is no need to take action at this time. The situation is extremely fluid and every day this week ALA has received new and sometimes contradictory information. The ALA Washington Office is taking measures to ensure this ruling (CPSIA) will not affect libraries and has sent a letter to all Congressional offices alerting them to the fact that we believe CPSC General Counsel has erroneously interpreted the CPSIA to include books. ALA is also monitoring the potential impact on other types of library materials as well.

It really shouldn't be a surprise that ALA receives new and often conflicting information every day. That is exactly how it has been for those in the trenches. It is pretty simple: Congress did not intend to include books in this law and the two person (YES - TWO FRIGGIN" PERSON) CPSC decided arbitrarily that books ARE included. No offense ALA, but I suspect you are more concerned about the big mid-Winter meeting coming up next week than this issue which is vital to everyone who cares about children. My request to consider CPSIA is still up on the Town Hall wiki.

Unfortunately for booksellers there isn't a lot of time left. February 10th is the day by which Certificates of Compliance must be prepared if they wish to continue selling in the larger marketplaces.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Day 7 of the CPSIA seige

I got on this roll about CPSIA because I was flat on my back with this flu/cold that is going around and I had way too much time on my hands. Last week folks on the used book sellers list that I belong to, started talking about it after reading the ruling that books were to be included in the products requiring testing. It really took a bit to sink in and then when I found out that Diana DeGette, my Rep, was to co-sponsor of the bill that started this whole mess, I decided to follow the urging of Nora O'Neill and sent the template letter and copy of a used children's book, Just Like Abraham Lincoln, to Degette. I also posted an e-mail inquiry to DeGette's website but as of today I have not received a reply.

On Monday I posted an inquiry to libnet, a list for librarians in Colorado, to see if anyone had heard anything about CPSIA and if it applied to libraries. Nobody had heard anything about but Gene Hainer, the Colorado State Librarian, said he would check with the American Library Association (ALA) and other State Librarians to see if they knew anything. Our library discussion centered on its applicability to Friends of the Library (FOL) sales among other things.

Gene appears to have gotten ALA hot on the trail of CPSIA and yesterday they got the ball rolling from a library perspective. Some great publicity on libraries having to pull books from the shelves or bar children from libraries, including this fabulous quote

Historically, books have been considered more dangerous to read than to eat.

Now ALA has a great wiki which includes a link to this blog - now I feel compelled to write more - lol

I've spent the week keeping my twitter updates online, posting to blogs, checking my e-mail far more than normal. I'm twitterd/blogged out - it's Saturday and I'm off to the Lafayette Oatmeal Festival, followed by a pantless ride on RTD and finishing out my day with another evening at the Festivus Film festival

Life is good!

ALA letter on CPSIA

The American Library Association has now publicly tackled CPSIA

If the CPSIA is applied to books and paper-based materials, as indicated by the Commission’s General Counsel, public, school and museum libraries will have to either remove all their books or ban all children under 12 from visiting. This cannot be what the Congress intended.


More CPSIA News of interest to booksellers

ABA has posted a really comprehensive post on the whole CPSIA mess

For its part, the Association of American Publishing wants CPSC to strictly limit what kinds of books are covered under CPSIA. In early December, Allan Adler, vice president for legal and government affairs for AAP, wrote CPSC seeking an advisory opinion limiting the coverage of books and other non-book, paper-based printed materials under CPSIA, as well as clarification regarding stock presently on retailers' shelves.

The problem for booksellers is that CPSC is even trying to regulation the manufacture and sale of books at all - never been done before

Publisher's Weekly is now weighing in as well

Not since the Thor ruling of 1979—which changed the way companies depreciate their unsold inventory, resulting in less-profitable backlist sales and faster out-of-print status for midlist titles—has a government regulation not aimed at publishing had such a far-reaching impact on the industry.

Also check out this video for good insight into the whole problem

Friday, January 09, 2009

News from the trenches about CPSIA and books

Well there is some good news on the CPSIA front. Today the CPSC announced :

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.

The best blog on the subject comes from Rick Woldenberg, but we still don't really know what it means because resellers are still liable should they sell prohibited materials.

The in-coming ALA President has started a wiki to get input for their town-hall meeting at the mid-winter meeting in a couple of weeks. Anyone can join and post issues, such as CPSIA, that need to be brought to the attention of President Obama and the American Library Association.

If you want to send comments directly to the CPSC they have plenty of info on their website about commenting directly on CPSIA. For instance if you want to comment on the mandatory testing send an e-mail to

Also contact your local libraries, elected officals, school boards, US Reps ... anyone and everypone - if you don't know how to find them, ask me

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CPSIA Updates

Resellers will be exempt from testing certification - great news for used book sellers

The American Library Association will be making an announcement about their concerns over the decision to not exempt books and their planned action - as soon as it happens I'll post something here


taken from the oldbookstore list [] this afternoon

Below is from an email from our Library director from the American Library association. They are drafting a letter to the WO (Washington Office).

The Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in August and Bush signed it. It was proposed by Rep Bobby Rush and supported by Sen Diane Feinstein, who spoke in favor on the floor, displaying a photo of the son of her communications director playing in the bath with a rubber book toy. Her remarks kept mentioning the boy's favorite toy, this book. He was 8 months old.

Books are an unregulated product, so no one paid any attention to this legislation which was in response to China's flooding the US market with lead-tainted toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled books only when it involved trinkets and items glued to a book....and then as a choking hazard.

AAP first learned of CPSC's intent to include books in CPSIA when the big box stores threatened publishers that they would remove their product from shelves (and ship back to publishers at their expense) unless they got certification of compliance with CPSIA. AAP met with General Counsel of CPSC and then sent a letter asking the General Counsel to "immediately issue an advisory opinion letter to confirm the limited coverage of books and other non-book, paper-based printed materials under the lead, phthalate and applicable ASTM standards requirements..."

They provided strong evidentiary support that books shouldn't be subject to the requirements referenced in CPSIA because they do not present any of the health or safety risks to children that the requirements are intended to address. This evidence can be located at a web site they created,

The problem for schools and libraries would be that all books for children under 12 (they agree that ordinary books for everyone are exempt) must be tested, new and the books currently on the shelf, including textbooks.

The General Counsel rejected AAP's request, requiring testing on the finished product, not the components,

The WO will draft a letter and fax it to every Congressional Office. Our grass roots will approach the offices of those members who were the leaders for this bill and get their constituents to write in.

Our point is that this wasn't Congress' intent and they should tell General Counsel that this would weaken the desired benefits and just clog the queues of accredited labs for testing actual kid's toys.

The CPSC is currently accepting public comments on this. So we need EVERYONE, librarians, parents, teachers, local legislators to submit comments on this....demanding an opinion form General Counsel exempting books.

Can I say, if this exemption is not forthcoming, children under 12 will be banned from school and public libraries until all the books can be removed and destroyed?

Monday, January 05, 2009

CPSIA - get the lead out!

OK I'm jumping on the CPSIA bandwagon and urging anybody who reads this blog to take up their pens and write a letter to their Congresspeople. Designed to protect children from lead and phthalates (a good thing), the new regulations require all retailers selling products for children to certify that they are lead-free. This law is retroactive and will basically shut-down the sale of used children's books.

Some thrift store industry leaders are concerned about the impact on their business and rallying their troops and a recent story in the LA Times indicated that some consignment stores will simply close.

For those who think this doesn't apply to books, one author has found out that it does.

If you are member of Joe's Used Book store group then you already know the routine but I am providing the sample letter below. We are asking folks to send a used children's book to their COngressperson as well


Please burn the enclosed book after reading. It is a danger to
American children… or at least the Consumer Product Safety
Administration thinks so.

Despite being published in the US, using lead free materials, under
the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA H.R. 4040) it
must be tested for lead. CPSIA applies retroactively to all items
intended for individuals 12 and under. The publisher of this book no
longer exists, so they will not be testing their product for lead.
Since I cannot provide the certificate proving that this book has been
tested, I am unable to sell it. In fact, no children's book, or
textbook, published before the new law went into effect in November
2008 can be sold under the new law. These books are required to be

CPSIA requires that all products intended for people 12 and under be
tested at the end of the manufacturing process for lead, even if all
the materials used in them have been certified as lead free. If a
publisher runs two books on the same press on the same day, with the
same materials, using the same workers they must test each book
separately for lead because the arrangements of words inside the book
is different.

This end-product-testing increases costs and may drive small scale
manufacturers out of business. Prices for these tests range from a
few hundred dollars to thousands, PER ITEM, depending on how many
materials it contains. Those that do survive will pass the cost on to
the consumer. The product will be exactly as safe as it was before
testing, just significantly more expensive.

This also places an undue burden on American taxpayers by requiring
ALL products intended for those 12 and under to be tested. School
districts are a major purchaser of children's items, which must
already meet rigorous safety standards. The cost of making companies
test already safe products like textbooks, microscopes, gym mats,
desks, and educational software CDs just in case a 12 year old might
eat them (lead poisoning requires ingesting or inhaling the lead),
will be passed on to already cash strapped school districts.

The CPSIA also requires permanent batch labeling of items to verify
they have been tested. This makes no sense for one of a kind items or
items made in extremely small batches. Again, this increases costs
with no significant benefit to consumers.

In addition to its effect on US based manufacturers, this would strike
a crushing blow to charity groups. Groups like Goodwill and Salvation
Army will no longer be able to raise money through the sale of
children's items. Nor will they be allowed to simply give them away.
In this economic downturn, many families rely on being able to
purchase secondhand goods to clothe their children. What will they do
with these items that they cannot sell or give away? Throwing them
out seems the only option.
Many anti-poverty programs, here and abroad, focus on helping single
individuals sell handcrafted items through collectives. Forcing those
individuals to test for lead will drive them back into poverty and
work against the government's own programs.

CPSIA should be amended to clarify that it:
1. Is not retroactive and does not apply to secondhand items.
(Manufacturers found to be KNOWINGLY selling goods that have been
recalled should still face some penalties. Retailers should not face
that penalty, as they often have no way to tell whether an item has
been recalled or not.)
2. Exempts from additional item testing; products that are made
entirely in the US from materials made in the US; items made wholly in
or from materials made in countries with equally strict standards such
as Canada and the European Union; or any combination of those two.
3. Exempts all "one of a kind" items. (Testing these as an item
destroys the item so it may never be sold.)
4. Exempts one of a kind items and small runs from batch labeling.
(The FDA has existing guidelines for this type of exemption which can
be found at: )
5. Exempts items made entirely from natural materials that are already
known not to contain lead (wood, beeswax, etc.)
6. Exempts items made entirely from certified organic materials.
7. Exempts items that have been certified as fair trade items.
8. Allows manufacturers to test their materials and process rather
than the end product. (If all the same materials and equipment are
used, it should not produce a different result. Manufacturers sharing
equipment that can be cross contaminated by manufacturing products
with lead on them should be required to test their finished products
for lead. Example: manufacturers must note food was processed on
equipment that handled peanuts, even if the actual product has no peanuts)
9. Exempts all manufacturers in the US, Canada, and the European Union
below a certain volume, based either on dollar volume or total units.
(This number should be based on the FDA exemption cited above. (#4)
It should exempt what amounts to "micro-businesses". Because of the
strict safety standards on materials sold within those countries, the
chances are low that individual artists or micro-businesses will
accidentally get contaminated materials. )
10. Exempts registered charity groups recognized by the US government
from the cash penalty if they unknowingly distribute goods that are
found to contain lead. (The fines will do more harm than good.) If
they are found to do so knowingly, then they should face the full

The regulations set forth in CPSIA will come into full force February
10th. Please act swiftly to deal with issue, before severe damage is
done to American small business and every taypayer.


P.S. Don't really burn the book. Please donate it to a local school