CPSIA: “Books, left out at the curb…”

Bedtime without books
Cecilia Leibovitz in our comments section:

Today I noticed a small box of books that had been left out at the curb of a thrift shop here in Vermont. All but two were children’s books printed prior to 1985.

Feel free in comments to add your sightings, positive or negative, of what is happening in the world of kids’ resale. (More: Bookseller Nora O’Neill took six boxes’ worth of kids’ books off the shelves in her store, retail value $2,500, and is not happy about that: “Yes, Alexander, it is a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” She also has an earlier post).

Some reactions to my coverage of the threat to pre-1985 kids’ books, both at this site and in my new opinion piece at City Journal: famed sci-fi writer Jerry Pournelle (scroll to Feb. 12), Justin Taylor/Between Two Worlds, Series Books for Girls, Liberty Maven/DownsizeDC, Melissa Wiley, The Catholic Bubble, Carter Wood/ShopFloor, and Ella’s Deli. I also got a very nice note from Michael S. Hart, founder of old-text-preservation volunteer group Project Gutenberg, one of my favorite things about the Internet. And if you haven’t read Mark Bennett’s post at Defending People, linked earlier, go do so. (More: Dilettante’s Dilemma, Jeff Sypeck (test, toss, or evade?), Todd Seavey, International House of Bacon (“Again — the single worst piece of regulation in my lifetime”)).

Adapting a theme taken up by Deputy Headmistress, Love2Learn Blog has started a meme of “My Five Favorite Endangered Books” at risk of disappearing from the market under CPSIA. She makes the important point that even when pre-1985 children’s literature remains available in post-1985 reprint editions, the physical quality is often not the same: in many cases binding and paper quality is lesser, color illustrations missing or shrunken or rendered only in black and white, all of which can rob the works of their original magic. Wikipedia’s “Illustration” article is worth a look. Commenters at Common Room also suggest one group of public figures who might be prevailed upon to speak out against what the law is doing: namely, living authors of pre-1985 (and out-of-print/oop) kids’ books. It’s a group that would include some fairly big names and might get noticed in the press.

Public domain graphic: Grandma’s Graphics, Mabel Betsy Hill.


  • Local public library has a dumpster in the parking lot that appeared in the last week. When I asked about the dumpster, the guy at the check out counter said they were just clean out some old books and stuff from the basement. Maybe, but it is too close in time.

  • National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance http://www.thencbla.org/ might be interested in this

  • I always thought that the Americans with Disabilities Act was the worst piece of legislation written (maybe with Title IX a VERY close second); now I am convinced that the CPSIA IS the worst.

    I did ask this on another thread here: why couldn’t someone sue to stop the law from being implemented, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional due to CPSIA having several laws/rules/enforcement that would seem to me to be ex post facto??

  • Our family stopped by Half Price Books today (Sunday 2/15) and I found one book in the children’s section printed prior to 1985. The cashiers confessed to me that they had thrown out 30 boxes of stuff, mostly toys, due to CPSIA. I suggested they update their recycled bag with the anti-censorship theme to include a dig at the CPSC since they managed censorship without violating the first amendment. I got a chuckle. The two pre-1985 books I bought were in the “collectors” area. Once home, I handed Tom Swift to my 12 yr old and instructed him not to eat it.

  • […] I was a child I loved to read. So Walter Olson’s (Overlawyered) reports on the CPSIA’s effect on pre-1985 children’s books were heartbreaking to […]

  • If there was ever a time to engage in civil disobedience, it is now. I never dreamed that my liberties and freedoms would be so eroded that I am actually contemplating my peaceful resistance to the confiscation of children’s books. We are a free people, we do not have to comply with this law! It is outrageous for our government to assert that they have jurisdiction over books! Resist it people! . Old books should be treasured, not discarded!

  • […] owner’s removal of six boxes of older children’s books from her shelves, mentioned here, also started an Etsy thread. Another poster at the same location had an idea for a national […]

  • […] thrift store business can’t bring themselves to leave perfectly good children’s books out on the curb, and instead tuck them into storage for the time being or look the other way while an employee […]