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The Globe and Mail

Publishers dumbfounded by airplane book ban

A U.S. Transportation Security Administraion (TSA) employee (L) watches on as airline passengers empty the contents of their pockets and bags onto trays at a security chekckpoint at Washington Reagan National Airport January 4, 2010.

JASON REED

Update (Jan. 6):

Canadian publishers are dumbfounded by new airport security measures that seem to forbid passengers from bringing books and magazines purchased pre-flight onto airplanes bound for the U.S.

The measures, announced Dec. 28 by Transport Canada, permit Canadian passengers en route to the U.S. to carry on board "one or more" of 13 specified items. They include canes, cameras, laptop computers, musical instruments and "medical devices."

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However, books and magazines are not included among the permitted items. The situation has left Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, "speechless, really. We're used to governments fearing books for their content. But what is it here? Is it their explosive capability?"

Ms. Wood's dismay was echoed by Jacqueline Hushion, executive director, external relations, for the Canadian Publishers' Council. The council represents some of the country's biggest foreign-owned publishers, including Random House and Penguin. (The ACP represents Canadian-owned firms.) "There's no common-sense in this," Ms. Hushion said. "I can't believe they're not going to retract it. … And if they don't, I know thousands of people they'll be hearing from."

An earlier news report indicated that while security personnel could exercise "some discretion" in what is permitted to go through security, only books and magazines purchased after the security check would be allowed into the cabin.

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