Bound printed matter refers to a designation of material for mailing or shipping as defined by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The term is also used by other shipping concerns and agents who ship through the USPS. The reason for its importance is that bound printed matter mailings qualify for discounts on the mailing or shipping of packages containing this kind of material.


Bound printed matter generally consists of permanently bound paper with printed information on the pages, like a book or catalogue. Brochures, cards, and three-ring binders do not qualify.

Types of Bound Printed Matter

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 by the United Parcel Service (UPS). Perhaps the most common use of the bound printed matter mailing category is for merchandise catalogues, which qualify under the bound printed matter standards as described by the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Fastening Bound Printed Matter

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 by both the United Parcel Service and the United States Postal Service.

Qualities of Bound Printed Matter

Besides the requirement for permanent binding, to qualify as bound printed matter at least 90 percent of the sheets a package contains must 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. The United States Postal Service also gives a weight limit for bound printed matter of 15 pounds per package.

Shipping Bound Printed Matter

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. 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 by the United States Postal Service.