Libraries, China, and Paper Tariffs

Early in 2018, news articles talked of publisher concerns. As the bulk of printing happens in China, rising tensions risked the increase of costs regardless of tariffs, but with the new tariffs in place, we’re already seeing a rise.

Larger groups like Penguin Random House and HarperCollins have started raising prices. In my little corner of the world, 25% increase in retail cost appears to be the norm. Of course, that’s just for children’s board books and paperbacks. I imagine we might see a more extreme jump in ones with a higher page count.

While retail affects store purchasing, it also trickles down the line elsewhere. Any wholesalers or competitor outlets, like All About Books or Scholastic will see a rise in prices. Considering those outlets sell to nonprofits and schools – with a large literacy group focus – we’re seeing uncertainty about whether quotas can be met, and I don’t mean sales quotas.

In the best of times, nonprofit literacy groups struggle. The number of children below the poverty line without regular access to books generally exceeds the nonprofits’ ability to provide. It’s frustration, and with the price increases, that reality will likely get worse.

These families need libraries. We can speak about the social aspects, the community aspects, and every additional, wonderful service libraries provide. Some have already argued for Amazon or another e-book provider to ‘take over’ regardless of developmental concerns because perhaps they forget how important libraries can be for young children.

Children, especially those 0 – 5 years of age, need human interaction, and books are a wonderful tool for parents to use. If you’ve ever read to a child, you’ve seen how they look between you and the story. How they listen to your words. How even upon the second reading some will notice if you miss a word or a page. Physical books are important.

As we see a rise in book costs, the possibility of being a full-time author whether traditionally or self-published will decrease. If anyone state-side wants to get into the printing business and can compete, now might be the time.

To authors – aspiring and professional – I wish you:

Good Luck.


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