US publishing warns Chinese book tariffs could be 'devastating'

US publishing warns Chinese book tariffs could be 'devastating'

Donald Trump’s threat to slap a 25% tariff on goods, including books, imported from China could drive shops and publishers out of business, leading US industry figures have told a public hearing.

A series of sessions are being conducted by the United States Trade Representative this week, with around 300 witnesses including business leaders expected to testify over the Trump administration’s proposals to implement $300bn of new tariffs on Chinese products.

Members of the US publishing trade, according to Publishers Weekly, said the low margin industry would be badly hit by tariffs and they had little choice but to use Chinese printers for some publications.

Lui Simpson, v.p. of global publishing for the Association of American Publishers, said: "Many of the most technically complex and innovative books, including many children’s books, can only be printed in China.”

She added the tariffs would reverse a long-held US policy of not imposing barriers on educational, scientific and cultural material, the website reported.

Simpson said: "It is hard to see any gain from tariffs on books, while the harm to American publishers, their customers, and American readers — as well as the American voices that are so important to education, religion, history, and culture — would be devastating.”

Workman c.e.o. Daniel Reynolds said: “Today nearly three-quarters of our catalogue consists of four-colour books, board books, and other types of unusual books that cannot be printed in the United States, due to lack of a trained workforce and capacity.”

Mark Schoenwold, president and c.e.o, of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and ECPA president Stan Jantz also gave evidence.

Further testimony is due from speakers including Madeline McIntosh, c.e.o. of Penguin Random House US.