What Is Bound Printed Matter?

by Christine Lebednik; Updated September 26, 2017

Bound printed matter refers to a designation of material for mailing or shipping as defined by the United States Postal Service (USPS); and also used by other shipping concerns and agents who ship through the USPS. The primary value of familiarity with this category of material in terms of mailing is that bound printed matter mailings qualify for discounts on the mailing or shipping of packages containing this kind of material.


Bound printed matter describes such materials as editorial materials including books, promotional material, bound advertising such as catalogues and brochures, and directory materials such as telephone directories, travel guides or college or high school directories as described at the United Parcel Service (UPS) website. Perhaps the most common use of the bound printed matter mailing category as of 2010 is for merchandise catalogues, which qualify under the bound printed matter standards as described at the United States Postal Service (USPS) website.


In order to qualify as bound printed matter, the materials must have a permanent binding holding them together. Loose-leaf binders do not qualify as such permanent bindings, and consequently materials contained in a loose-leaf binder do not constitute bound printed matter. Permanent fastenings include stitching, glue binding, stapling and spiral binding as described at both the United Parcel Service and The United States Postal Service websites.


Besides the requirement for permanent binding, to qualify as bound printed matter requires that at least 90 percent of the sheets a package contains have imprinting derived from a process exclusive of typewriting or handwriting. Additionally, to qualify as bound printed matter the package cannot contain any personal correspondence. Further, the material must not be stationery, such as printed blank forms as described at the UPS website. The United States Postal Service also gives a weight limit for bound printed matter of 15 pounds per package.


Typically, two types of companies use bound printed matter shipping processes: printing and distribution plants or publishers who ship materials themselves rather than using an outside shipper, as described at the Mtmailing website.


Shippers, including the USPS, also apply minimum quantities to bound printed matter in association with discounts available for using this shipping method. The minimum quantity to obtain the bound printed matter discount is 300 pieces. Additionally to the 300 piece minimum, rates also have some variation depending on weight, distance between sender and recipient, and package shape as described at the United States Postal Service website.

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About the Author

A writer/editor since 1984, Christine Lebednik has spent much of her career in business and technical writing, and editing. Her consumer print and online articles include product descriptions for TDMonthly Online, book reviews for Catholic News Service, consumer reports for Consumer Search and works for various other publications. Lebednik received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College.

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