Friday, December 19, 2008

What a Tasteful Coffee Table Book! But How Does It Taste?

This question may seem only vaguely related to publishing, but here goes. Are publishers of children's books aware of the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act that will require any product for kids under age 12 to be tested by third party labs for lead content?
Yes.
Are book publishers going to send off samples of books to be tested for lead as the law requires?
Yes.
Many small to medium sized US businesses that make toys, apparel, science products, home decor, etc for kids are in an uproar right now. Wondered if you had any inside scoop on the publishing industry's reaction.
No uproar in my neck of the woods. Some sighing, sure, because the new law seems a teeny bit stringent in terms of age range (how many readers of Spiderwick, for instance, also chew on the books?). Some mild grinding of teeth, because lots of book-plus products are going to have to have a "CHOKING HAZARD!" label attached to them, and we know that puts consumers off-- even when it's a darling horse necklace for a 10-year-old girl who would never think of trying to eat the damn thing. And of course the testing is going to add some time into every one of our book schedules.

At the same time, most children's books are not in any danger of lead contamination, so we know they'll pass testing. And we get that the law's goal is to make everything safer for children. Who can feel too bad about that?

15 comments:

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

that's seriously one of the dumbest questions I've ever read. But then again I really haven't thought about small kids chewing on books. and I didn't think books could be toxic, either.

sciencegirl said...

Just think of it as protecting that 10-year-old's baby sister who definitely is the age to chew books, whether targeted to her or not.

Cheryl-Book Reviews said...

I think it's a bit stringent too-but on the other hand I understand. I have a 12 yr old and 1 yr old; what's safe for the Biggest isn't for the Littlest; and the little one has bit/sucked on big brother's books before we wrenched them from his chubby fingers :)

Editorial Anonymous said...

Sciencegirl:
Ok, but then why don't books for adults have to be tested? Aren't toddlers at risk of grabbing those, too, and chewing on them?

Kerry said...

I was going to say what sciencegirl said!

and Editorial Anonymous, I think a 12-year old is much more likely than any random adult to have a toddler living in the same house. Those parents seem to make those offspring in *groups* of all the strange things. ;-)

Kerry said...

oh, and also... siblings DESperately want what the other sibling has. doesn't matter if it's dog poo. If brother has it, sister WANTS it. Same doesn't go for all Dad's books. Some of them. Not all. (mostly the ones with cartoonish pictures on them.)

Joy said...

EA-Does this affect the price of books or availability? I've heard from other people who make baby products that it will severely limit their stock for awhile and add higher prices to their products. Is it the same with children's books?

Chris Eldin said...

I used to buy board books for my kids to chew on. I'm actually not joking. It never occurred to me that there might be lead, but I had them tested yearly until the age of five anyway because of the age of our house. All the tests for both of them came back fine.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I must be a crazy person. I think this law is WAYYY to far reaching, and that it's the parents and siblings responsibility to keep innapropriate toys away from the baby.

(My girls are already learning this. The rule is "If you leave it where he can reach it, it's your fault when he eats it. (Or destroys it. Or uses it as a hammer))

I know we want to protect all the kids with idiotic parents who didn't REALIZE that paper can choke babies, but..... maybe we should just encourage people to pay attention and not be idiots.
(stepping off my soap box now)

ae said...

The Spiderwick Chewables. The toddler version.

First they chew em. Then they read em.

(Sorry...too much egg nog.)

Phew.

Deirdre Mundy said...

You know, I sure hope the "Goodnight Moon" boardbook and "Pat the Bunny" are OK to eat...

Because each of my kids has chewed a copy of each.... Keeping Brown's heirs in royalties, I guess... =)

Clearly this is a recipe for success-- write a book so great that every toddler NEEDS to have it, and so welcoming that a copy can't last through more than one kid!!!

kathleen said...

Thanks for publicizing this! May I also suggest visiting the War Room for up to the minute updates and focused activism? http://tinyurl.com/5fhzbd. I would also appreciate knowing of a publishing group focusing on this. I've posted on it several times at yahoo's self publishing group but no one seems to care or pays attention.

Adrienne B. said...

The American Publisher's Association cares about this, as evidenced by their name on a letter from the National Association of Manufacturers (see http://www.toyassociation.org/AM/PDFs/Safety/CPSCPetition1208.pdf). Large publishing companies probably don't care about this issue since they can afford not to, but small presses and small businesses who make items for children are very upset about it. The fact is, lead is not a component of children's books. But we still have to get our books and other products tested by Feb. 10 or they will be classified hazardous substances and they'll be illegal to sell. Fine, if you have money to burn (which I actually didn't think large publishers had these days...). But not so great if your company is small or medium-sized, which I think is the majority.
Many, many companies are going to go out of business because of this.

Cheryl said...

Deirdre-As a mom I completely understand what you're saying, that's the rule/motto in our house too. But even so...I don't think books should have lead in them regardless. It's a good rule of thumb for children, pets, the enviroment and mentally challenged for items like toys and books not to contain a poisonous substance.

Anonymous said...

I don't know--my picture book was printed in China, as my editor explained to me, and when my box of beautiful, shiny, brightly colored books came home last spring, it did occur to me to wonder about what might be in that colored ink, just as it occurs to me to wonder about everything made in China. Admittedly, I am more concerned when I look at a bag of frozen vegetables in my freezer and realize that it is imported from China, but I do wonder about books too. And if we find out that they are all safe, great.