5 Tips for Shipping Books

August 4th, 2016 Comments off

277753_New-creative-request-blog-images-Stamps-1If you sell new or used books, you’re likely seeing an upswing in sales as the start of school approaches, with back-to-school retail expected to rise 2.6 percent compared to 2015 and ecommerce alone jumping 15.3 percent during the same period, according to eMarketer.

While it’s true back-to-school keeps booksellers busy, books are popular with shoppers year-round. Reviewing your options regarding book shipping can help streamline your business’ process plus help your bottom line. The United States Postal Service’s Media Mail Service – formerly known as Book Rate – is a cost-efficient method of shipping educational materials, and is calculated purely on weight and size.  This makes Media Mail a great option for ecommerce sellers who deal in books and other heavy media items.

The table below illustrates the vast price difference for mailing four books, weighing 15 pounds total, from San Francisco to Atlanta (Zone 8).

USPS Shipping Choice


Media Mail


Priority Mail

Priority Mail Flat Rate – Large Box


Now that you know a bit about Media Mail, here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re shipping books:

– Understand Media Mail Service’s requirements. Media Mail is restricted to books of at least eight pages, including play scripts and manuscripts; CDs/DVDs; sheet music; computer-readable media, 16mm or narrower film; printed test materials and reference charts; and loose-leaf pages and finders of medical information intended for medical professionals and hospitals. Items that do not qualify for Media Mail Service include advertising materials, loose photos and comic books.

– Be honest about what you’re sending. If you choose to use Media Mail, understand that in return for lower cost, you are also permitting postal inspectors to open and look over your mailing to ensure it’s eligible for the special rate.

– Expect slower shipping times. USPS deems Media Mail lower priority for delivery, so if speed is an issue, you may want to explore other options.

– Consider multiple shipping options. While Media Mail Service is designed to account for the weight of books and other educational material, sometimes it’s even cheaper to use Priority Mail’s flat rate packaging, especially if you’re sending several items together, or unusually heavy books.

– Stamps.com makes sending via Media Mail simple. The service’s Cost Codes feature makes it easy to differentiate eligible Media Mail shipments from your other products, and it’s even possible to print out a mailing label that hides the amount spent on shipping.

The Bottom Line
The Media Mail service provides ecommerce sellers with a consistently low-cost method of shipping books and other educational materials that can add up weight-wise under other shipping methods’ pricing. Understand the requirements and the tradeoffs versus faster options, and prove to your customers – and yourself – how book smart you are as an ecommerce seller!

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