Both as President of IOBA (Independent Online Booksellers Association) and as a bookseller who specializes in selling signed and inscribed books, I was pleased to post the following announcement:
“From IOBA and ABAA member Marc Kuritz, Churchill Book Collector –
“On Thursday, 12 October, California’s Governor signed into law California State Assembly Bill 228, amending California’s disastrously onerous autograph law to totally exempt books, manuscripts, and correspondence, as well as ephemera not related to sports or entertainment media. Because AB 228 was an “Urgency Statute” it goes into law immediately. As already. As in “Whew!””
Marc mentions that there was a lot of heavy lifting involved, as well as significant negotiations between competing AB and Senate bills, and more – but in the end, booksellers got the results, in large part because of the efforts of Marc, Laurelle Swan and others in both IOBA and the ABAA. The efforts of the ABAA in general, from first raising awareness of the unintended consequences of the original bill to hiring a lobbyist to support the legislative fight, were essential to this successful outcome and we all owe them a debt of gratitude.
Thanks are also due to all those involved in writing about the bill, and those who took the time to sign the change.org petition and to promote this issue and support Todd Gloria, who agreed to author this bill in the Assembly.”
AB 228 removes the “unintended consequences” for booksellers in last year’s AB 1570, but still preserves consumer protection in the areas where it is most needed.
For those not familiar with this bill, it revised an earlier section of California’s civil code which governed the sale of autographed sports collectibles by removing the word “sports” and substituting “all” autographed items priced over $5.00 – and all of a sudden a very limited law applies not just to all booksellers, auction houses, book shows, art and autograph dealers in California, but also to sellers who might participate in California events, and possibly even to sellers from outside the state. The bookkeeping requirements are onerous (a very detailed certificate must be issued, and a copy kept by the dealer for 7 years) but even more significantly, it requires dealers to disclose the name and address of the person from whom they acquired the signed book – which is a violation of their right to privacy (a right which is also protected by law in California). Booksellers were unaware of this bill until after it was actually signed into law – to go into effect on Jan 1, 2017. In October, in an editorial calling for its repeal or revision, The Los Angeles Times called this the worst bill of the year!
There is a petition requesting that the California legislature repeal this bill and I hope that everyone who reads this will sign the petition. It got almost 500 signatures in just the first day, but we would like to see 5000 signatures or more!
Petition to repeal AB 1570
There have already been some unintended consequences of what was probably a well-meaning, but poorly written bill. Easton Press is no longer shipping signed books to California, and some sellers have withdrawn from the most significant antiquarian book fair held in California annually – the ABAA fair in Oakland on Feb 10 to 12.
We very strongly support consumer protection, but unfortunately this bill, which only offers consumers the option to sue, does not really protect them.
We give an unequivocal guarantee on all autographed books – if ever there is even a question about the authenticity of the signature, we will give a full refund upon return of the item. There is no time limit on this guarantee. We obtain many of the signatures in our books personally – other books are purchased from longtime and knowledgeable collectors. We are members of the Independent Online Booksellers Association and we are bound by their stringent code of ethics.