Thursday, February 26, 2009

Half Price Books Unstocks CPSIA Children's Books

In response to my previous blog on the CPSIA law banning the sale and distribution of pre-1985 books to children, I have received the following note, printed verbatim and with permission:

I have experienced the severity of this issue first-hand. I run the children's section at Half Price Books (a used book store, for those of you who don't know, though most of the kids books are new- remainder or overstock from publishing houses that we buy and sell at a discount), and a few weeks ago we had to purge anything and everything from the section that could potentially contain harmful levels of lead. Fortunately, the Powers That Be deemed any ink used on paper to be safe; in other words, plain ol' books are fine, and we can keep selling them.

As many of you know, however, kids books often come with all kinds of extras: markers, lights, sounds, mirrors, toys, etc. The criteria we were given for what books we needed to pull from the shelves included many of these extras. Specifically, we were told to pull anything that was made in either China or Mexico that contained metal, painted wood, or mirrors.

Initially, it didn't seem like this would have much of an impact on the kids section, but as I went through my section pulling everything that was potentially harmful, I soon realized that this was going to decimate my section. My display tables were over halfway empty, and there were half-empty or completely empty shelves all throughout the section. We had to get rid of some really wonderful books and kits, including a stack of about ten Disney DVD board games that we had just received not a week before. The kids cooking shelf went from being packed full to only having half a dozen books left, all because most of the cookbooks were spiral-bound with metal.

We didn't throw away the books; we packed them all up and sent them to our district warehouse. The books will be tested for lead levels, and we might get back the books that are considered safe. As for the rest of the books, Half Price Books will try to get reimbursed by the vendors and publishers who sold the books to us.

I've spent the last few weeks fervently trying to rebuild the children's section, but, despite the volume of children's books that are sold to the store, it's been a slow process. I still have empty shelves that used to be full, though the section doesn't look quite so emaciated anymore.

The day that I had to get rid of all those books was one of the roughest days I've ever had at work. The kids section is my pride and joy, my baby, and I had to not only watch it get torn apart- I had to do it myself. It was heartbreaking.

From Jackie (who wrote from her Etsy shop at EasyOnTheEyes)


  1. I do tons of book shopping at Half Priced Books. We have lived overseas for several years and I couldn't do without the boxes of books from the grandparents or the boxes that we buy when we're visiting and mail home. Over the Christmas holidays, I filled up about eight boxes of books, most of them from Half Priced Books or the Hamilton County Library booksale. The removal and potential destruction of children's classics in venues that previously have revered, shared, and promulgated children's books (and profited thereby) is appalling.

  2. My bookstore had to remove thousands of dollars of used books just before the law went into effect. It was sad to see how many of our great books had been printed before 1986.

    We don't have the room to store them until Congress comes to their senses, and I wasn't about to throw them away. So, we had a Give Away Party on February 9th -- and blessed many of our customers.

    And all of this over books that weren't going to poison anyone!


Thanks for your comments! I always love to get feedback!