Importing books from China to the US

China is the world’s largest book exporter by copy. The country exports about 370 million books and products alike annually, more than 2.6 times more than the biggest exporter, the United States. Importing books from China to the US is not as complicated as, for example, importing medical devices.

Where are books produced in China?

When looking for book manufacturers in China, for example, on online sales platforms such as Made in China, it is worth knowing where the clusters are located. The largest papermaking areas in China are Shandong and Guangdong provinces. A large number of printing factories are located in Guangzhou and Shanghai

The following are major book producers in China:  

  • Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen (Guangdong)
  • Shanghai
  • Fuzhou (Fujian)
  • Wenzhou, Jinhua, Hangzhou (Zhejiang)
  • Beijing
  • Zhengzhou (Henan).
Importing books from China to the US manufacturers

US tariffs on books from Chin

Imports are subject to taxes, including customs duties. The amount of the duty depends, among other things, on the value of the order and the customs duty rate. Customs rates are available in the tariff system HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule System). Rates vary depending on where the products are imported from. There is an additional China tariff in the case of imports from China.

HTS codes and US tariffs on books from China (printed books, brochures, leaflets and similar printed matter, whether or not in single sheets):

  • The US tariff on dictionaries is (4901910020) is 0% + 7.5%.
  • Textbooks (4901990010) are subject to 0% + 7.5% tariff.
  • The US tariff on encyclopedias (4901910040) is 0% + 7.5%.
  • Technical, scientific and professional books (4901990050) are subject to 0% + 7.5% tariff.
  • The US tariff on children’s picture, drawing or coloring books (4903000000) is 0%.

Importing books from China – importers’ requirements and obligations

Only the products that meet the formal requirements can be placed on the market. Book importers should bear the following in mind:

  • assign a legitimate ISBN
  • it is worth choosing suppliers who have ISO 9001 (Quality Management System) and ISO 14001 (Environmental Management System) certificates
  • it is a good idea to import books with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification; it will increase the attractiveness on the market
  • consider using recycled materials and ecological packaging
  • ISO 6357: 1985 is a voluntary standard for documentation – spine titles on books and other publications.

To import to the US, you must submit documents such as:

What to do before choosing a Chinese supplier?

Chinese supplier frauds

Unfortunately, fraud in international trade is a common occurrence. Therefore, it is worth verifying the chosen Chinese company first to find out whether the information provided on the website is authentic and whether it is a reliable manufacturer. Also, in the further stages of cooperation, we recommend that you be cautious and conduct quality controls in China.

Remember. Even if you have been working with a Chinese supplier for years, there is always a possibility that the next order will not meet your expectations, e.g. due to production errors or changes in the company’s structure. Professional importers regularly carry out audits of their partners, sign commercial contracts and conduct quality checks.

Price and MOQ

The unit price cannot be the most crucial factor when choosing a supplier. Remember that a lower price can mean lower quality. The scale of the order also affects the price of the goods. With larger orders, it is easier to negotiate with the supplier the unit cost of the goods. Before you choose a manufacturer, find out what the MOQ is and pick your partner as you see fit. If the MOQ of a Chinese company is 5,000 copies, the supplier will not take an order for several hundred books.

Sample copies

Before placing a big order, ask the supplier for a sample. Some provide it at their own expense, but some expect you to cover the delivery cost. After assessing the sample, you can determine whether the supplier meets your expectations.

Importing books from China to the US – to sum up 

  • East China has the largest number of book manufacturers.
  • The general duty on books from China is 0%.
  • Books on the US market are required to have an ISBN assigned.
  • Stay clear of scammers and have your Chinese supplier verified.