CLA-2 CO:R:C:T 089135 KWM

TARIFF No.: 4911.91.4040

Mr. Paul Crowley
Sharretts, Paley, Carter & Blauvelt, P.C.
67 Broad Street
New York, New York 10004

RE: Children's picture book; book; printed matter; binding.

Dear Mr. Crowley:

This is in response to your inquiry of April 1, 1991, requesting a binding classification ruling for merchandise described as a "textile book." Your letter and a sample of the merchandise were forwarded to this office. Our response follows.


Your letter describes the subject merchandise as a "textile book" or "children's picture book." The article submitted as a sample is, according to your submission, representative of the merchandise to be imported. It is made from a rectangular piece of foam, measuring approximately 5 inches by 27 inches. The foam is covered by a textile material. The rectangle is divided into five squares, each approximately 5 inches on a side and separated by a row of stitching. Each square is printed with a picture and simple text describing the picture. The completed article may be folded 'accordion' style to produce a finished product 5 inches by 5 inches, and approximately 1 1/2 inches high.

Your letter suggests that the subject merchandise should be classified as a children's book and imported free of duty.


Is the merchandise classified as a children's picture book?


Classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA) is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. In the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRI's may be applied, taken in order.

The tariff heading proposed in your submission of April 1, 1991, provides for the following:

4903 Children's picture, drawing or coloring books

With regard to heading 4903, HTSUSA, the Legal Notes to chapter 49, HTSUSA, include the following:

6. For the purpose of heading 4903, the expression "children's picture books" means books for children in which the pictures form the principal interest and the text is subsidiary.

We agree with your contentions that the subject merchandise contains pictures which form the principal interest for a child, that the article is intended for children, and that certain topics could be presented in a series of episodal pictures to form a continuing storyline. All of these things are required for classification of merchandise in heading 4903, HTSUSA. However, these requirements refer only to content based distinctions which serve to separate "children's books" from other books classified in headings of chapter 49, HTSUSA. They do not in any way suggest that Customs should depart from classifying as "books" any article which does not meet the common and commercial meaning of the term with regard to the item's physical characteristics.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "book" as:

a. spec. (In reference to modern things) Such a treatise occupying numerous sheets or leaves fastened together at one edge called the back, so as to be opened at any particular place , the whole being protected by binding or covers of some kind. . .

b. The material article so made up, without regard to the nature of its contents, even though its pages are occupied otherwise than with writing of printing, or are entirely blank. . .

We find that such a definition embodies the common perception of a "book" in a physical sense. The drafters of the nomenclature, when composing chapter 49, HTSUSA, and its associated notes, may not have defined the term "book" because it is a word of common usage. Your letter suggests that the absence of any restrictive language regarding the form of "books" permits an expansive reading of that term. In other words, you have argued that unbound books may be included in heading 4903, HTSUSA. We do not agree. To assign a tariff term any meaning other than the common or commercial meaning (which is presumed to have been known by Congress when the tariff was enacted) would require some proof that Congress intended to incorporate such other definition. Your letter does not suggest that Congress so intended, and we have not found an expression of such an intention. Therefore, we find that a "book" classifiable in heading 4903, HTSUSA, is composed of numerous sheets or leaves, fastened or bound together "so as to be opened at any particular place." We find that the use of the term "book" implies that a binding or fastening must be present.

In your letter, you also argue that the instant article is, in fact, bound (at least in a "technical sense"). For the purposes of determining whether an article is a "book", we find that binding must comprise more than simply fastening together sheets, pages or leaves. It should consist of a fastening or binding along one edge or spine, as a traditional example of traditional bookbinding would exhibit.

Although the merchandise is not a book, it is still considered printed matter for tariff purposes. And since no other heading describes the merchandise, it is classified as other printed material in subheading 4911.91.4040, HTSUSA.


The merchandise at issue, printed matter for children, composed of printed textile squares fastened but not bound together, is classified as other printed matter, pictures, not over 20 years old, in subheading 4911.91.4040, HTSUSA. The applicable rate of duty is 3.1 percent ad valorem. There is no textile visa category associated with this classification.


John A. Durant, Director