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Further tariff hikes make U.S. publishers jittery

(Xinhua)    16:42, June 05, 2019

NEW YORK, June 4 (Xinhua) -- "Are you interested in this instant pot cookbook with more than 100 recipes?" A smiling Nancy Taylor kept asking passers-by to market her company's new publications at the annual BookExpo America held here.

The promotional giveaway attracted many to her booth -- the Trusted Media Brands, Inc. (TMBI), where all publications on display featured coated paper and vibrant colors. According to Taylor, a sales representative of the company, almost every one of them was printed in China.

However, Taylor and her peers have started to worry about their businesses' future, as books printed in and shipped from China may soon face steep additional tariffs up to 25 percent.

In an escalation of the trade tensions, Washington on May 10 increased additional tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, and has threatened to raise tariffs on more Chinese imports.

A public hearing will be held on June 17 to decide whether to hike tariffs on another 300 billion dollars of Chinese imports, which will include printed books.

"I'm horrified about it," said Taylor, frowning and shaking her head.

For American publishers, China has long been a reliable supplier, delivering high-quality books at a cost usually 30-40 percent lower than in the United States and Canada. This is especially the case with full-color, hardcover books of coated paper, multiple participants of this year's BookExpo told Xinhua.

The BookExpo America gathers booksellers, librarians, specialty retailers and national chains, publishers and tastemakers to discover the latest titles, authors, distribution channels, technology and trends in New York, according to the expo's official website, which said the 2019 expo took place on May 29-31.

With a history of 97 years, the TMBI owns many popular American magazines including Reader's Digest. Having most of its publications printed in China helps the company to make prices more affordable and competitive while staying profitable.

"We have a lot of expenses that go into manufacturing books ... We have a distributor, we have a whole team that we have to pay for testing the recipes, and other art directors on the editorial," said Taylor. "We really could use whatever help we can get with regards to the pricing."

For books that require more handiwork, Chinese printers are even more irreplaceable. "Look at this one," Taylor pointed to a loose-leaf book on the shelf. "We can never sell it at 12.99 dollars if printing it in the United States."

Some other publishers on the BookExpo shared similar comments. "I know about the tariffs. We are ... trying to figure out the effects and solutions," said Brendan Curry at the booth of W. W. Norton &Company.

It took decades for China to grow into a leading player in the printing industry, said Zou Hong, general manager of Jinhao Color Printing based in southern China's Shenzhen City, who came to New York for this annual gala of global publishers.

In the booth of Jinhao, a whole variety of displayed products, from books to notebooks, were all order samples from U.S. businesses. "China's printing industry has some advantages, such as a skilled labor force, an optimized industry chain and accumulated management expertise," Zou noted.

Taylor believes that if the tariffs are really in place, American readers may have to pay the price. While some bigger publishers may be able to withstand the tariffs' impact, "it's gonna be difficult for some smaller publishers definitely," Taylor said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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