Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Death of Vintage Kids' Books

It with a heavy heart and a very confused soul that I write this post today. So, on February 10, the "Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act" went into effect in America, making it illegal for consumer products intended for children under 12 to have more than 600 parts per million of lead in any accessible part. This is great as it will supposedly help keep creepy China-made evil toys out of the hands of our children. However, this also means that makers of handmade toys and children's clothes (like the Moms and Dads who create things out of their homes to sell on Etsy) will no longer be able to sell their products without spending thousands of dollars on product testing. This much I had known.

But, apparently, all vintage children's products fall under the rule as well. As far as vintage books go, any book printed before 1985 when America's anti-lead laws went into effect... is deemed suspect until tested, therefore unless it undergoes testing to prove it cootie-free, it will become illegal and suspect and must be DESTROYED. Because of complaints, a one year "Stay of Enforcement of Certain Testing and Certification Requirements of CPSIA" was enacted — which means that they are proposing a 1 year suspension of the burden of lead testing and certification while they take more time to review the rules and plan enforcement. All this means is that booksellers wouldn't have to pay to do the certification and testing for another year, but they would still liable if their vintage products are found to have lead.

So it seems smaller, independent booksellers who know the value of these books are boxing their pre-85 product and holding on to them in storage until this madness blows over. Other larger thrift store chains like Goodwill are pulling the books and just dumping them in the garbage. I am sick about the whole thing.

Apparently, there is some exemption for "collectible children's books" that would be for adult collectors and not children, but we all know that is BS. There has not been one case ever of a children's book giving a child lead poisoning, so all this kinda got dumped into the same category.... sadly... I won't even go into how this will effect libraries, but just imagine your neighborhood library... over half of its children's section disappearing overnight... all of its out-of-print titles, vanishing into the dumpster out back.

Question 17: Can I sell vintage children’s books and other children’s products that are collectibles?

Yes. Used vintage children’s books and other children’s products sold as collector’s items would not be primarily intended for children. Because of their value and age, they would not be expected to be used by children. Therefore, they do not fall into the definition of children’s product and do not need to comply with the lead limits.

That said, this blog and ultimately my Etsy store were a super fun hobby for me, but until there is some resolution on this heartbreaking witch hunt, as of Saturday ~ Feb. 21, I will be pulling all pre-85 books from the shelves... and since Etsy only allows sales of books 20 years or older... that will just be a token really.... books printed between '85 and '89.

I will be posting some of my immediate surplus tomorrow, and selling all books with a flat rate shipping of $3 for all orders in the Continental US... with the knowledge that you guys are all adults who collect treasures and know what's best for yourselves and your kids. Saturday morning, all the books unsold with a pre-85 date will go back into my son's collection.

Apparently, you are not allowed to giveaway these books either ("these books" meaning the books your mother and your grandmother and even you were raised on), I will no longer be giving away books on Mondays, at least pre-85 books. I will still try and giveaway reprints and the like when I find them... but let's just say the fun is over for now.

So... a bag of plastic "MADE IN CHINA" animals from Walmart is good and your mother's favorite book from childhood is toxic until proven innocent. If you want to help stop this insanity, check out the Handmade Toy Alliance and contact your congressman.

As for me, I will continue buying, collecting and giving vintage kids' books to my child. I will continue writing about them here every day. And as I sit and watch my son mouth a rubber frog from China that is filled with who knows what, I can't help but think the world has gone slightly mad this week.


  1. well said.
    my heart is breaking for all of the small business toy makers.

  2. This is just crazy! Doesn't anyone have common sense anymore? I'm going to visit your store right now!

  3. Oh gosh, this makes me so sad.

    It makes me feel sick to think of all those treasures being dumped.

    What an illogical law. I thought that once legislators saw the other side of the story, they would put a stop to it.

  4. I hope it all blows over b/c it's crazy!

    Today I went to a used book store and bought a number of vintage children's books :) I had driven past the store for yrs but as I couldn't see it from the road (just the sign) I always bypassed it. Until today.

    I was very excited to see how many books they had for kids and I'll keep buying used books until they stop selling them!

    I got to thinking the other day that yea I do buy books for my kids - but I'm also buying them for myself and for my own collection...I've loved vintage books since I was a youth - and I can't stop now.

  5. Excuse me, maybe I missunderstood, but I thought that law had been reported for a year ?

    Please chech here:


  6. Yes, this is quite sad. Vintage books are something to cherish, not destroy.

  7. It has been reported for a year... I just didn't realize how deeply it would effect me. so excuse me for being asleep at the wheel.

  8. So sorry! I know Ben (aka your #1 fan) is also heartbroken. We will enjoy Popcorn and Ma Goodness regardless.

  9. this is upsetting. to say the very least.

  10. I had heard about this through etsy but never even considered books.
    This just seems the height of unintended insanity!
    Pinny from Melbourne Australia.

  11. Your post makes me want to cry- the thought of those beautiful books in dumpsters. I'm going to link to this post and your shop on my blog for my American readers.

  12. oh so sad!!! There goes "Save The Trees", too!!! And all the history, fantasy, and the "simple pleasure" treasures being JUNKED makes me ILL!!! Someone, go RAID the dumpsters... at night if you are afraid or ashamed, but don't just FEEL sad, DO something about it!!! I would if I were in the States. AHHH!!

    Anyway-- i have linked you to both of my sites...

    Hang in there!!!

  13. It's so funny... I am planning on keeping up crafts books for kids that are mainly for adults and kids books printed between '85 and '89 and I am pulling all that stuff now... It's basically gonna be the sesame street/ bearenstain bears shop with some cooler reprints sprinkled in. Ha!

  14. I read about your post on Chris' blog and I have to say I am absolutely saddened by this. Leave it to politicians to pass illogical laws while ignoring helpful brainstorming to solve the problem. We were raised on these books and we never had lead poisoning. I will check out your Etsy shop and see what I can do to save the books. Hugs to you.

  15. I was on Publisher's weekly today and saw that booksellers worked hard to get the post-85 books exempt and that "the AAP and the publishing industry will continue to push for a full exemption for ink-on-paper and ink-on-board books." I am crossing my fingers that they get it done.

  16. I just read your post today - was unaware of the law applying to books as well, and am appalled some more. This law already was pretty painful to begin with, but ouch! What else can I say?

  17. I feel like I need to quickly gather a library together of all the books I want to share with the children I don't yet have.

  18. There may be help.
    There are bills in committee in Congress to amend this ridiculous law.


    The related bills are listed below.
    When you get to the website, click on each law as shown below and contact the officials listed and tell them to move these bills forward.

    H.R. 968: To amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to provide regulatory relief to small and...
    H.R. 1046: To ensure the effective implementation of children's product safety standards under...
    H.R. 1027: To exempt second-hand sellers of certain products from the lead content

    These bills are in committee and must be moved forward NOW.

  19. thanks annieg... will check it out and post on it in the am.

  20. This legislation is insane and heartbreaking. Hopefully saner people will right this wrong sometime soon.

  21. This is amazingly silly and sad. I cherish the vintage books I have-that I loved reading when I was little and that I share with my children. Rupert, Mr. Pink Whistle, Rubalong, even No Kiss for Mother. I hope that your government comes to its senses and repeals this aspect of the law.

  22. I have read elsewhere that this law does not apply to books. See

  23. don't worry - this will never be enforced and you will not be penalized so relax - you'll never see any effect