Outsourcing to China – tariffs, trade and the real costs

Chinese trade tariffs for book printing is big news in the publishing industry and are predicted to hit publishers hard. The global book market has traditionally seen UK and US book manufacturing outsourced to China, but that market is currently being disrupted by trade deals from the Trump administration

What prompts outsourcing in the first place?

According to publisher and photographer Steve Coonan of The Rodder’s Journal, cost is the main reason.

When I started the magazine, I felt that there were a lot of good printers in the U.S., but they didn’t really serve the niche that we were in as well as I hoped for. We needed a printer that could deliver relatively high quality at a relatively low price. Coonan[1]

There is a common misconception that China and other Asian markets are the only source of manufacture that can print with quality litho colour and at affordable prices.

At Printondemand-worldwide we offer both quality and affordable pricing options by using exceptional digital HD inkjet colour printers that rival litho print quality.

A common myth within publishing is that the UK has not adapted to market needs – something that we are keen to dispel. Using the latest workflow technology alongside our industry-proven digital colour presses we can offer the quality of traditional litho printing, but without the price. Traditionally, litho printing colour plate sections were not cost-effective for print runs of less than 250 copies. But we understand that for many of our publishers, short print-runs are the best business solution.

Our print capabilities

The US-China outsourcing debacle

2019 has so far seen Donald Trump threaten to impose a 10% tariff on an extra $300bn of Chinese goods, including books.

Furthermore, it is expected that further tariffs will be imposed from September unless a trade deal is reached with Beijing.

Lui Simpson, V.P. of global publishing for the Association of American Publishers, said: “It is hard to see any gain from tariffs on books, while the harm to American publishers, their customers, and American readers — as well as the American voices that are so important to education, religion, history, and culture — would be devastating.”

Regardless of the final outcome, this talk of tariff adds to the instability of manufacturing goods in China. Much like with Brexit, we advise publishers to have a contingency plan. As a business, we have ensured that shipping books is unaffected, by switching to FedEx.

Therefore, to avoid being stuck with additional tariff fees, it might be time to re-evaluate your outsourcing and look closer to home. This is not just an issue for the US, if a publisher in the UK prints a book in China and ships it to the US via the UK, this book would still need a tariff paid.

Furthermore, when you work with Printondemand-worldwide you also benefit from our BookGLOBAL service. Allowing you to reach out to global markets, without investing in local stock, warehousing or distribution.