Friday, December 18, 2009

No Reprieve for Books and the CPSIA

This last week Rick Woldenberg broke the news that Henry Waxman was attaching an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would fix the CPSIA. The amendment contained an explicit exemption for books. I won't rehash too much of what Rick has said about this amendment. Later we learned that the Waxman amendment was appropriately dropped.

Even though ordinary books would have been exempted from the requirements of the CPSIA, this amendment was wrong for a number of reasons. Rick explains why on his blog. The amendment clearly showed that a legislative fix is required to fix the CPSIA, but it must be done in an open way. If this amendment had gone through, there would have been additional labeling requirements above and beyond what we have to deal with now. While books and ATV's would have received a reprieve of sorts, everybody else would have been punished.

The amendment also shows how political connected the American Library Association and the Publishing Industry is in Washington DC, particularly the ALA. The ALA has continued operating as though books would get that magical waive for the last year*. They have acted coolly toward those who fear the loss of our culture, language, and history found in books printed pre-1985. Either through some kind of knowledge or naivete, they don't believe libraries will be forced to throw out their collections. The ALA managed to marshal their membership to fight some privacy concerns in the Patriot Act but they won't do it to protect the very reason for their existence!

In any event, the amendment has been dropped and books are still at risk. Various rule makings and test deadlines have been issued over the last few weeks. The complexity is so difficult that I cannot tell you how recent developments will affect books. Books printed pre-1985 are still at risk. Books with play value ("touch & feel", toy components, bath books, and some board books) are still at risk and will probably disappear from the market place.

* I am not a member of the ALA so I only know of their actions published in their blog.

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