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The Latest Potential Casualty Of Proposed Tariffs: The Bible - Publishers Warn Of Shortages

July 11, 2019

President Trump's proposed tariffs on Chinese imports have been in the news a lot, mostly because of the many businesses in the United States that could be threatened.

 

Now, a new victim has been identified. Bibles! President Trump, who rode into office on a wave of support from evangelical Christians, could end up damaging the Bible industry with his proposed tariffs.

Millions of Bibles are printed in China every year (some estimates say at least 150 million). This means Bibles could see price increases and shortages. 

 

The 25 percent tariff would apply to all books, but some critics of the tariff have pointed out that it could disproportionately affect Bibles and children’s books. Many of those books require special types of printing commonly found in China, but not all U.S. printers can meet those specialized needs.

 

President and CEO of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Mark Schoenwald, said that the company does not believe that the Trump administration meant to "impose a ‘Bible Tax’ on consumers and religious organizations."


The two largest Bible publishers in the United States, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson, are both owned by HarperCollins. Nearly 75 percent of their Bible manufacturing is done in China, Schoenwald said.

 

Schoenwald also pointed out that they command 38 percent of the American Bible market.

 

Biblica, The International Bible Society, is an organization that gives away Bibles to people in 55 countries. Because that hungry people really need, Bibles. China represents 72 percent of the group’s investment in Bible publishing, according to Biblica President and CEO Geof Morin.

 

Morin said that a Bible tariff would “dramatically affect the number of Bibles we are able to print and give away, impacting the religious freedom of individuals in countries where Bible access is limited and often nonexistent.”

 

It remains to be seen what will happen here, and so these publishers must wait. President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China recently agreed to continue trade negotiations. Maybe the next round of negotiations will go better than the last round did.

 

Thoughts and prayers to all those Bible publishers out there...

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