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The China Tariffs Will Impact Authors


With the Trump Administration planning to slap 25% tariffs on goods imported from China at the end of June, the publishing industry is poised to be hit hard since so many books published in the United States are printed in China. From June 17 through June 25, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is holding hearings on these proposed tariffs. On June 18 and 19, representatives from the Association of American Publishers, American Booksellers Association, the District of Columbia Public Library, and other affected members of the book sector spoke out on how the proposed tariffs will affect them.

Higher prices on books printed in China would have a seriously detrimental effect on authors, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and readers. Publishers and booksellers will be forced to increase prices stateside to make up for the hiked prices on imported books, and already underfunded libraries will have to pay more for these books or go without a particular title. Likewise, authors will see sales drop as higher prices force readers to purchase fewer books. And if publishers don’t raise prices, authors’ advances and royalties will take a hit since the amounts paid to authors are often the one line in a publisher’s budget that is not a fixed or hard cost.

The AAP has issued a statement opposing any tariffs on books, noting that “works of fiction and nonfiction that support and celebrate American voices … are printed in China” and that “[t]here are no viable alternatives either inside or outside of the United States at this time.”

Books do not fall under the “technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation” category cited by the Trump Administration as the locus of China’s alleged improper trade practices, and exempting them from these tariffs would not have a material effect on the Administration’s trade aims vis-à-vis China. The Authors Guild calls on the Administration to exempt books and other cultural and educational materials from the proposed tariffs.