During December’s consumptive quadrant, I posted the following on my facebook page:
i own a shop, and last night i went to target. maybe it was to serve as a reminder that most of our world is made in china. admittedly, that was not the point : the point was to buy a my little pony and a remote helicopter. but i didn’t, cause i couldn’t make sense of it. and my kids might be bummed for a minute, but then we’ll go outside and play with an equally awesome usa-made tea set + possibly wander through the grass with a rad, locally-knitted lochness monster. this is a ramble, and it’s mostly me processing stuff in a public sphere — to keep myself honest. more than facebook needs to know, i know. i’m attaching bricolage’s link — visit us, we stock awesome things, and we’ll connect you to their maker.
There were a flood of comments and likes to follow, which told me that I’m not alone. I know I’m not. But, this whole business of buying local and national can sometimes be a tricky one.
Narrow it down to one facet of our tiny market within Bricolage: books. It recently came to our attention that at least half of the books we sell in shop are printed in China. (Or, as most read, manufactured in china — is the word manufactured somehow less offensive? they use a slew of words, terminologies and phrases to say : this shit was made across nations and waters to pay workers a small fee then ship it across miles, increasing pollution. But, of course, if they include ‘lovingly made,’ well, then, that’s something different altogether.) Anyway, we have over a handful of books and they’re printed in China. Publishers we carry include Gingko press, Chronicle, IPG and various others with books found through Buy Olympia. The bummer we’ve run in to, and the thing I want to address, is that we cannot seem to find an American publisher that offers titles we want to carry AND that distributes only American-printed books. There’s always some cryptic puzzle to solving the question: are your books printed in the USA, or not? I’ve contacted The Association of American Publishers in search of a concise list of American publishers that print in the USA. AAP didn’t return my call/email. I’ve contacted a few publishers only to hear, “well, yes, our books
all be printed in the USA.”
Yes, I agree, and so why aren’t they?
Right now I’m waiting to hear back from the publishers at Jon Wiley Inc to be sure Sarah Bongliori’s book “A Year Without “Made in China”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy” was printed in the states. Only cause I’m curious.
It’s not without hesitation that I might buy a toy, or piece of clothing, or food for that matter that clearly says, “MADE IN CHINA,” but when it comes to books that whole buy local skates right past me. I justify buying books made countries away because I suppose in my head it’s a one-and-only, and if not from there, where else would I get the same book? It’s not a matter of choosing to shop local, it’s a matter of choosing to shop not made in China, which is a totally different thing. I think it has something to do with my vision of books being more educational/insightful/real, whereas I see a toy or clothing as a fleeting material thing. I don’t know. I’m clearly struggling with this idea.
Can we talk about it?