Monday, March 09, 2009

When was that book printed? A CPSIA problem

Inspired by the Headmistress, I wanted to show some books that will be lost if CPSIA is enforced fully. The book below is a part of the large collection of Hardy Boys books from my library that could be wiped out.

Check out the really cool endpapers in this book.

This Hardy Boys book has a copyright date of 1970, printed in the USA. One could probably assume the printing date is similar, but it's not clear.

Check out The Swamp Witch. Our edition is a library edition. Also copyright date 1970 with unknown printing date. This book, with its original cover, is in incredible condition considering the amount of use and abuse it has received over the years. It has many, many more years of life. Few publishers offer library editions anymore.

All the pages in this book are black because the story takes place at night. The illustrations are really amazing.

This next book illustrates the problem facing libraries in determining when a book was printed. Some books indicate a printing date with the copyright statement, and some don't. This book is copyright 1968. The paperback edition was printed in 1989 in Mexico. The problem is this book is the hardback edition with no indication of when it was printed.

Supposedly there is a way to determine printing date from the barcode. I don't know many librarians versed in barcode decoding. I am not. And even to this date, publishers are not consistent in their barcode printing. Placement and style varies, which bugs me to no end when I go to catalog a book. This book has what appears to be a date in the barcode, but I am not entirely sure.

So if the book was indeed printed in May of 1995, this book had to have sat in a warehouse for 10 years. Our library didn't add this copy of the book until 2005. Seems unlikely to me, but I don't know what publisher/distributor warehouses are like or how long they store books before being sold. In any event, the easiest thing to do is to rely on the copyright date because that is the only consistent information that will show up in catalogs and in books.

Rick Woldenberg blogs some more on how the CPSIA is getting stupider and stupider. Dr. Robert Needlam asks if Baby Books have lead. He rightly points out that a rather large percentage of children's book are now printed in China (I would assume 95%, but I don't have solid numbers to base that assumption). Children's book printing was off-shored like a lot of other children's products. The irony is that Thomas Moore wants us to sequester books printed pre-1985 just in case of lead and yet it is imported Chinese made products that have proven to be the problem. The publishing industry claims books are all now printed with soy ink, including the ones printed post 1985. Somehow I doubt the publishing industry is anymore immune to the problem of Chinese manufacturers doing the good old "bait and switch" that other manufacturers have experienced. It is also unclear that they have done the intensive quality control with batch and lot testing. Maybe they have. Regardless, if two misplaced cans of paint can cause a recall of 436,000 toys, the publishing industry should not assume they are immune.

Even so, there is absolutely no evidence that a child has been endangered from lead tainted inks in books.


Thomas Chan said...

"51695" just means the suggested price in US$ ("5" refers to "US$") is $16.95 , but I don't think you can reliably date the printing of a book from its price! (But it's a small clue.)

The ISBN (0-8050-0662-1) being ten digits long tells you it was assigned before 2007, when thirteen digit ISBNs started being used. (The paperback will have a different ISBN from the hardcover.) This information is probably not useful, since ISBNs have been used since the 1970s, unless you can somehow find out when an ISBN was assigned, and if there were an odd situation where a book copyright 1985 or earlier had an ISBN not assigned until 1986 or later.

If there's a publisher's website listed on the book, then it's certainly printed 1995 or later since there was no Internet in 1985 like it is today! (I've found this to be only clue of recent printing in a number of books that otherwise only bore a 1985 or earlier copyright date.)

Esther said...

Thank you! I figured the television reporter was blowing smoke when she stated a printing date could be determined from the barcode.