Aug 072009

Not too many weeks ago, I ran across a blog, the name of which I cannot now remember, in which the author posted a hypothetical government ban on books – not because of their literary content, but because as old books decay, they could release fibres and other toxins which might be inhaled by the reader, thus damaging the reader’s health. He was using it to illustrate, if I remember correctly, the way the government wishes to restrict or ban anything which gives us pleasure and justifies doing so on rather spurious ‘health’ grounds.

If anybody knows the blogger I mean, do let me know, because I’d like to give him a head’s-up:

Congress to ban sale of children’s books printed before 1985

Why? Because they are hazardous to the health.

UPDATE: Yes, it was Frank Davis.

  5 Responses to “Memory lapse about banning books”

  1. Not just books. Clothes, especially with sequins. Most costume jewelry (no more princess costumes for Halloween). And lots more.

    Have a sideline/hobby making and selling toys? Not any more: since you make mostly one-of-a-kind stuff, and a “sample” of everything must be tested – which not only costs big bucks but will usually destroy the “sample”…

    Even the agency responsible for all this has stated it is ridiculous – but it is the law.

  2. Oops: you wanted a site/cite/ Well. you could do a lot worse than to look at and search.

    But it is not the degeneration-over-time thing. The problem is with lead. For children’s books, for example, some color inks pre-1984 had traces of lead. Now, the books as a whole have little lead – but the agency is supposed to look at each part of a product, and some ink colors exceed the allowed limit.

    Then it gets really wierd. I tried to follow a publication the agency put out at the end of July – just the section under “Old Books”… yikes!

    1. Because of the pre-1984 colored inks, books must be tested before children under 12 can be allowed access.
    2. But this does not apply to libraries because they do not sell the books.
    3. But it does apply to books whch are not sold, merely “distributed” – e.g. promotional giveaways or otherwise allowed to be accessed by under-12s. Uh, libraries?
    4. By the way, this is all a self-imposed “injunction” while the agency tries to figure out what it is supposed to do. So don’t think you are OK if you follow what is said in the publication.
    5. Oh, and some bookbinding glues also had lead. But there is no need to worry, because glues are typically covered by the binding.
    6. But again, each part must pass inspection.

    This parts thing is why things like bicycles are in trouble: those little pieces that hold the spokes onto the rims? Contain lead, and perhaps some kid wil chew them…

  3. Megan McArdle had a post up 5 August- don’t know if that’s the one you’re thinking of.
    And I gather congratulations are in order- so go to the Devil (and don’t get stuck in the kitchen)

  4. It’s Frank Davis at – full of great stuff.
    Congratulations on the marriage.

  5. Yes, it probably was me. Somebody already replied with the link you gave.

    Hope you’re having a fine honeymoon.

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