CPSIA: Importing older children’s books

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2009

You didn’t think they were going to make it that easy, did you?

On February 10, 2009 we have added a Shipping Restriction for our Childrens Books, as follows: Effective February 10, 2009 Children’s Books will no longer be shipped to the USA. This change is being made because of the United States Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSIA). … We have added “SHIPPING NOT AVAILABLE TO THE USA” to the description of the books affected by this shipping restriction.

— announcement at Canada-based online used-book seller Trylinski Books.

Relatedly, on the domestic front: “The fun is over” says online vintage seller “Scribbler”, who’s pulling her stock of pre-1985 kids’ books, and yet feels optimistic: “I have to think the government will do the right thing over the next few months and alter this crazy law to make vintage kids’ books legal again, so I don’t expect to be out of business too too long.” (She’s also giving away to a random post-commenter a post-’85 reprint of a book by one of my favorite children’s illustrators, Wanda Gag.) Occasional eBay/Craigslist reseller jensyw tries to puzzle out the law’s requirements. More: Freddie DeBoer/League of Ordinary Gentlemen (“such a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad law”), Buried Treasure, Allison Kasic/Independent Women’s Forum. And @swonderful, on Twitter: “At consignment store they were disposing of pre-1985 books. The employee remarked how she will throw out all old books at home too.” After all, who knows better than the government?

More: Great coverage by Daniel Kalder in the Guardian (U.K.) Books Blog.

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02.25.09 at 12:08 pm

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1 BG 02.20.09 at 2:10 pm

President Obama is headed to Canada for trade talks. Perhaps the Canadian readers can contact their government about this and add some weight to the US voices. I wonder how many ways we can say “Stupid law”. The fallout gets crazier and crazier. You might be interested in this poem: http://www.easyfunschool.com/the_CPSIA_meets_Dr_Seuss.html

2 Tristan Benz 02.20.09 at 2:42 pm

I’m telling you – I met with the same reaction at a local store – if government says we need to, then we need to… Where is the black hole into which critical thinking and common sense is now rapidly slipping? I wanna stand clear!!

3 Debra 02.20.09 at 3:01 pm

I was quite surprised to find a post on your blog about my website today. It is a shame that this law has included books and that USA thrift stores and used book sellers are having to remove their children books. When I first read about this I could not believe what I was reading. When I contacted our government here in Canada, at first I was told that books were not included under the CPSIA, then later yes, it looks like books are included, and they would get back to me with further details as they became aware of them.

4 David 02.20.09 at 3:33 pm

The employee remarked how she will throw out all old books at home too.”

I wonder how many idiots will fall into the same “Even the most minuscule/barely existent risk is too great!”thinking? I mean, if these kids don’t have toxic levels of lead in their blood already, it should stand to reason that they’re safe, no?

How did any us who were 12 and under prior to 1985 survive our educations?

5 DeputyHeadmistress 02.20.09 at 4:06 pm

Anybody who would go home and throw away her pre-1985 books because the government said they might have lead in the ink can’t possibly have had any books worth saving anyway, right?

I need to believe that, because otherwise, I’m going to have to ingest near lethal doses of chocolate to help with the depression that story brings on.

6 Vivian Zabel 02.20.09 at 4:12 pm

People want to believe promises and that the government knows best. Such beliefs makes it “easier” on people: They don’t have to think.

CPSIA is another example of “government knows best” when it knows nothing.

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