Whether you run an online book store or need to ship a book to a client, the USPS Media Mail service offers your business benefits such as low-cost, weight-based shipping and free tracking. When packaging your book to send through Media Mail, you'll need to follow the USPS size and weight requirements and avoid putting ineligible items like advertisements in the box or envelope. While you won't be able to use the USPS website to print your Media Mail postage, you do have other online and offline options.
Exploring USPS Media Mail Rules
When shipping a book, you have to follow some basic USPS Media Mail rules. Your book must have eight or more pages, can't contain advertising and may not be a comic book. However, you can include certain other items with the book such as sheet music, CDs, film, DVDs and educational materials.
Although your book probably weighs far less, the USPS will allow a max of 70 pounds for a Media Mail shipment. The box or envelope you use to ship the book will need a combined girth (height and width added and multiplied by two) and length of no more than 108 inches.
Understanding Media Mail Pricing
The USPS offers two different prices for Media Mail that depend on whether you pay the retail or commercial rates. In both cases, the USPS charges you just based on the package's weight. So, you won't find yourself paying more to ship the same book across the country than you would to ship it within the same state.
The 2020 retail price for shipping a one-pound Media Mail package is $2.80, and you'll add $0.54 for each additional pound. So, if your book shipment weighs five pounds, that results in a $4.92 shipping fee. On the other hand, a 10-pound package would cost $7.60 to ship using Media Mail.
The 2020 commercial rates for Media Mail vary and cost more if you do a basic presort than if you presort your packages by five-digit zip code. The base price for shipping a one-pound Media Mail package with the five-digit presort option is $2.10 and goes up to $2.67 with the basic presort option. Each additional pound will cost either $0.53 or $0.54. So, a five-pound book could cost $4.22 or $4.79 to ship, and a 10-pound one could cost $6.90 or $7.47.
Choosing Your Media Mail Packaging
Your options for Media Mail packaging include flat cardboard envelopes, padded envelopes and boxes. If you send a book in a Media Mail envelope, you might put a cardboard insert on both sides of the book. When using a box to mail books, use an appropriate size and insert packing peanuts, bubble wrap or shipping paper to fill any leftover space. You can then insert any packing slip and seal the package for mailing.
Shipping Your Book
If you prefer buying Media Mail postage without going to the post office, you'll need to look somewhere other than the USPS website. After you weigh the package, your options might include using USPS metered mail, using PayPal's shipping tools or subscribing to a mailing service like Pirate Ship or Stamps.com. You can then purchase and print your Media Mail label and choose from options like scheduling a USPS pickup or dropping the book off at an authorized mailing location.
Otherwise, you can take your package to your local post office where an employee will weigh the package, charge you the appropriate fee and have it shipped off for you. Note that due to Media Mail restrictions, the worker might inspect your package to make sure you're only mailing a book and other allowed materials.