David Hetherington, knk’s Chief Marketing Office USA, moderated a discussion hosted by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) on September 3rd, 2019, on the hot topic of Import tariffs on books entering the US from China. The event was a roaring success with 250 (two hundred fifty) companies/individuals registered.

The two speakers (Mr. Carrick Wilkie – Publiship Logistics and Robert Baensch- Baensch International Group) did a masterful job distilling a complex subject into manageable chunks and adding political and economic perspective that went well beyond the distinctly unglamorous topic of tariffs on selected books manufactured in China.

The audience was a mix of interests and included publishers in the textbook and professional spaces, and trade publishers of all kinds including adult trade, Young Adult, coffee table, kids, with a significant block of religious publishers. Currently, only children’s books and religious titles manufactured in China are exempt from the tariff but the children’s exemption lapses on 12/15 and the tariffs all jump to 25% on that date. As of this writing, religious titles are the only sector of the book publishing community with an exemption that appears open ended – but even that is open to question.

Robert Baensch added an especially interesting perspective when he spoke about the issue being one of two-way trade. In other words, it’s not just imports of books printed in China to the US that are impacted – it’s also the sale of books produced in the US and elsewhere to the Chinese market that are being adversely affected, as well as the sale of rights to Chinese publishers; all this to one of the largest foreign markets for books

The main presentation was followed by a multitude of questions from a curious audience. We can send copies of the deck to any interested parties as well as a link to the session on request.

Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash