At the other end of the scale, some in research-intensive sectors such as pharmaceutical, biotech and other life sciences companies are also reconsidering China for a range of reasons, including costs and incentives being offered in other countries.
"Life sciences companies have shifted some production back to the U.S. from China. In some cases, the U.S. was becoming cheaper," said Sean Correll, director of consulting services for Burlington, Mass.-based Emptoris.
That may soon become true for publishers, too. Printing a 9-by-9-inch, 334-page hardcover book in China costs about 44 to 45 cents now, with another 3 cents for shipping, says Goodwin. The same book costs 65 to 68 cents to make in the U.S.
"If costs go up by half, it's about the same price as in the U.S. And you don't have 30 days on the water in shipping," he says.
Even with recent increases, wages for Chinese workers are still a fraction of those for Americans. But studies do show China's overall cost advantage is shrinking.
Labor costs have been climbing about 15 percent a year since a 2008 labor contract law that made workers more aware of their rights. Tax preferences for foreign companies ended in 2007. Land, water, energy and shipping costs are on the rise.
In its most recent survey, issued in February, restructuring firm Alix Partners found that overall China was more expensive than Mexico, India, Vietnam, Russia and Romania.