The book industry earned a partial victory in its effort to exclude books from the Trump administration’s plan to impose tariffs on up to $300 billion worth of goods imported from China.
In a decision handed down by the U.S. Trade Representative Tuesday morning, Bibles and other religious books were not included on the first list of products imported from China that would be subjected to 10% tariffs starting September 1. Bible publishers were especially worried about the possibility of tariffs on Bibles made in China, since few printers outside of China have the capability of manufacturing Bibles.
Children’s book publishers received a reprieve on tariffs for picture books, drawing books, and coloring books from the original September 1 date. Tariffs on those books have been delayed until December 15. While publishers would like more certainty on the tariff question, the delay in possible new tariffs until mid-December means most, if not all, children’s books printed in China should be on American bookstore shelves for the holiday season before the tariffs would be imposed.
All other books printed in China, including trade, education, and professional titles, are still subject to 10% tariffs beginning Sept. 1.
AAP CEO Maria Pallante issued a statement that reflected the mixed news, saying that the association was pleased with the administration’s decision on Bibles and children’s books, but disappointed that other categories of books still face a tariff that could be imposed in about three weeks.
Saying that the AAP remains “deeply concerned” that a wide range of other books remain on the tariff list, Pallante noted that “a tariff on books is a tax on information, and at odds with longstanding U.S. policy of not imposing tariffs on educational, scientific and cultural materials. Just as importantly these books are part of a vital economic engine that makes significant contributions to the U.S. economy, and supports American publishers, authors, illustrators, editors, and designers, as well as distributors and booksellers.”
The AAP led the publishing industry’s bid to have books excluded from the tariffs when it organized a number of publishers to appear at public hearings conducted by the USTR in June held in conjunction with the administration’s original plan to impose 25% tariffs on goods imported from China. Trump suspended the implementation of those tariffs in early July when trade talks with China resumed, but when discussions stalled the administration came up with the 10% proposal earlier this month.