On Friday, President Obama signed into law an amendment to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 that excludes “ordinary” children’s books from the law’s third-party testing and certification provisions, and promises to make testing less burdensome for novelty and book-plus publishers. “The legislation gave book publishers some important relief with respect to the third-party testing requirements in the law,” says Allan Adler, the Association of American Publishers’ v-p for legal and government affairs.

The new law also makes CPSIA’s requirements prospective rather than retrospective, meaning only products manufactured since the original law went into effect are included, thus eliminating libraries’ concerns about lending older books.

The amendment, H.R. 2715, was introduced and approved almost unanimously in both the House and Senate on August 1. The publishing and printing industries had been lobbying for changes to CPSIA since the law went into effect more than two years ago, arguing that books have never been regulated and have never posed a safety hazard to children due to lead.

Publishers of novelty and book-plus titles for children 12 and under that contain components not made of paper or board, or are printed on materials other than paper or board, still need to comply with the third-party testing and certification provisions of the Act. They are awaiting the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s publication of rules regarding specific testing and certification procedures. A current stay of enforcement on testing and certification expires at the end of the year.

The rules, when issued, promise to be less costly and complicated for publishers under the amended law. The new legislation directs the CPSC to look at ways to reduce the burden of testing and allows testing to be done through representative sampling, rather than requiring random sampling as the law originally stated.

The exclusion for ordinary books comes just as the maximum amount of lead allowed in children’s products, according to the Act, drops from 300 parts per million to 100 ppm. That milestone occurred Sunday, August 14.

To review the book-related happenings in CPSIA history, see our timeline, which includes links to PW’s coverage of key events.