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?
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
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
4903 Children's picture, drawing or coloring books
With regard to heading 4903, HTSUSA, the Legal Notes to chapter 49, HTSUSA, include the
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
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