by Stan Jantz, President and CEO, ECPA
One of the most critical issues facing the book publishing industry is the strong possibility that a tariff of up to 25 percent will be placed on goods imported from China, including books and Bibles. Because this would affect many of our members, ECPA is working with the Association of American Publishers (AAP) to express our concerns to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Washington.
Thanks to the efforts of Craig Gipson of Flagler Law Group, along with Luisa Simpson, the VP of Global Policy for AAP, we were able to schedule two ECPA members and myself to give testimony this week before the USTR. As you read this, I am flying to Washington in order to present reasons why books and Bibles should be exempted from the Chinese tariff. Mark Schoenwald, President of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and ECPA board member Paul Hendrickson, general manager of Hendrickson Publishers, are also giving testimony in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Publishers who belong to ECPA account for the majority of the Bibles distributed within the U.S. A large number of these these Bibles—well over 50 percent—are printed in China. While there are some domestic Bible options available, the U.S. printers comparable to China on price and quality to not have the capacity to meet current demand. The same can be said for four-color books printed in China.
A 25 percent tariff imposed on Bibles would cause a hardship for many publishers. As I have talked with many of our members about the impact of the tariffs, I am hearing the same concern. There will be significant damage to Bible accessibility if Bibles and books are not excluded from the tariffs. Some believe such a tariff would place a practical limitation on religious freedom. For sure we know that competitive options for printing Bibles outside of China are limited, especially if the current average price of a Bible is to be maintained.
I will provide additional updates in the coming days. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me with your concerns, comments and questions by sending me an email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.