It seems like USPS offers services to ship just about anything. When it comes to shipping books, USPS’ Media Mail service is an excellent option.
However, you may have some questions about Media Mail. Like, how much does USPS charge for Media Mail shipping? Keep reading to find out more about shipping costs and the rules you need to follow!
USPS Book Shipping
USPS offers several options for customers shipping books. In addition to Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express, the postal service provides highly reduced shipping rates through its Media Mail program. On average, packages sent via Media Mail cost more than 50% less than other shipping options and usually arrive in two to eight business days.
If you’re curious about how much Media Mail shipping costs and want to know more about how to use this service, then keep reading!
What Is the Cheapest Way To Ship a Book With USPS?
Media Mail is the cheapest option for shipping books through USPS. In fact, for shipments under one pound, which is more than most individual books, Media Mail costs just $3.19.
As a comparison, Priority Mail pricing starts at $7.95 and goes up depending on the size and weight of the package.
As you can see, that makes Media Mail more than 50% cheaper than Priority Mail.
How Much Does It Cost To Ship a Book With USPS?
Media Mail prices start at $3.19 and increase based on weight per pound.
However, if your package falls between weights (for example, 2.6 pounds), you must round up to three pounds and pay the shipping fee for three-pound items.
Furthermore, here’s a breakdown of Media Mail shipping rates based on weight:
- Weight doesn’t exceed one pound: $3.19
- Weight doesn’t exceed two pounds: $3.82
- Weight doesn’t exceed three pounds: $4.45
- Weight doesn’t exceed four pounds: $5.08
- Weight doesn’t exceed five pounds: $5.71
- Weight doesn’t exceed six pounds: $6.34
- Weight doesn’t exceed seven pounds: $6.97
- Weight doesn’t exceed eight pounds: $7.60
- Weight doesn’t exceed nine pounds: $8.23
- Weight doesn’t exceed ten pounds: $8.86
Additionally, Media Mail packages can weigh up to 70 pounds, but I’ve only included shipping prices up to ten pounds in the interest of space.
Why Is USPS Media Mail So Cheap?
Media Mail is inexpensive for a few reasons. Namely, it’s a heavily subsidized USPS service.
Also, it’s slower than other shipping methods, includes only the most basic options, and is subject to compliance checks. So, let’s take a closer look at each of these reasons.
USPS has been subsidizing Media Mail for over 80 years.
Since President Roosevelt created the program in 1938, the goal has always been to encourage people to send educational materials through the mail.
To do this, USPS carries books and other educational materials at a loss (i.e., for no profit), which is one primary reason Media Mail is so cheap.
Moreover, Media Mail is affordable because it’s slow compared to other shipping methods. That said, Media Mail arrives in two to eight business days but can take longer.
In fact, on a cross-country trip, a Priority Mail package will be delivered four times faster than a Media Mail package.
A third reason why Media Mail is inexpensive is that it’s a bare-bones service.
For instance, whereas Priority Mail includes up to $50 of insurance and is forwarded or returned for free, Media Mail only gets a one-way ticket.
With that, if a Media Mail package has to be forwarded or returned, the recipient or the sender will have to pay the extra postage before getting the box.
In addition, Media Mail insurance costs extra.
Finally, Media Mail is cheap because it’s the only class of mail the postal service can legally open and verify the contents.
In other words, if you try to sneak in a few extra items in your book shipment, USPS can open the package, see that you’re not just sending books, and penalize you.
Technically speaking, USPS could charge you for mail fraud. However, it’s more likely that the package will either be returned or be held for postage due by the recipient.
If that’s the case, you or the recipient will have to pay the difference between the Media Mail rate and the First-Class or Priority Mail rate.
How Long Does USPS Media Mail Take?
According to USPS, Media Mail takes between two to eight business days to arrive.
Still, it’s essential to keep in mind that it could take longer depending on how far it has to travel and how busy USPS is.
Does USPS Actually Check Media Mail?
Yes, USPS does verify the contents of Media Mail, but not as much as you’d think. Essentially, USPS’ methodology is more spot-checking than a systematic review.
With that, USPS is too busy to check every single Media Mail package each day. On any given day, USPS handles more than 173 million pieces of First-Class mail alone.
So, USPS simply doesn’t have enough time to verify the contents of most Media Mail packages.
With that in mind, USPS probably inspects several thousand pieces of Media Mail packages each day.
That may seem like a lot at first glance, but it’s truly a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of mail sent with Media Mail postage.
Therefore, as long as your package conforms to USPS standards, the chances are good that it won’t get flagged.
How Do I Package Books For Shipping With USPS?
To ensure your books make it to their destination undamaged, follow the steps below:
1. Gather Supplies
- Shipping box
- Corrugated cardboard roll
- Packing tape
- Clear plastic bag
- Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or other packing materials
2. Place the Book in a Plastic Bag
Put the book in a clear plastic bag or bubble wrap and close the zip lock if using a bag. If the plastic bag doesn’t have a zip lock, fold the open end and tape it firmly so it won’t open.
3. Secure the Book With Cardboard
Next, wrap books using a corrugated cardboard roll, which will help protect them from any wear and tear in the shipping process.
4. Place the Books in a Shipping Box and Add More Protection
Then, place books in a box with packing materials like bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or craft paper for added protection.
5. Print a Shipping Label and Ship the Books
Finally, go to the post office and have a clerk print a label for you or print one at home. Once your box is ready, hand it over, and USPS will do the rest!