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The Cheapest Way to Send Books

Updated April 10, 2017

Books are fairly heavy for their size, so they might seem to present a challenge to a small-business book dealer who needs to control mailing costs. However, the U.S. Postal Service has a special low-cost category to accommodate your tomes. USPS also offers volume-based and faster Priority Mail options. Private parcel services keep up with their ground services for when the package doesn't have to get there overnight.

Protect individual books for shipping by wrapping them in lightweight bubble wrap, then in flattened paper grocery bags, secured with wide, clear packing tape. Mark these parcels "Media Mail" and ship up to a full pound anywhere in the United States for £1.50 as of January 2011. Media Mail prices go up only a few cents for every pound, to a limit of 31.8 Kilogram for £19.0, but these parcels cannot be larger than a total of 108 inches measured all the way around one direction (girth) plus one side the other way (length). Average delivery times run from two to eight days.

Offer your customers delivery in one to three days, using packaging the Postal Service will even deliver to your door, for free, by matching your books to Priority Flat Rate boxes and envelopes. Plain and padded envelopes, including one 15 by 9 1/2 inches, take as much weight as you can pack into them anywhere in the nation for £3.20. The largest flat-rate box, 12 by 12 inches and 5 1/2 inches deep, will carry a small set of books for £9.70. Use bubble wrap inside only if needed to keep the books from shifting en route, but do wrap the books individually to protect them from scuffing.

Pay £4.80 and up (depending on distance) for a one-pound package that you and your customer can track over its one-to-five-day journey via UPS Ground Service. If you're shipping often enough for regular UPS pickup, you'll save a little bit over individually scheduled pickups or taking packages yourself to a retail shipping point such as a UPS Store.

FedEx Ground rates for the same delivery in one to five days, depending on distance, start at £3.3 for a one-pound package. The FedEx rates are subject to surcharges for various conditions of pickup, delivery, and package characteristics.

Things You'll Need

  • Bubble wrap
  • Paper grocery bags
  • Packing tape
  • USPS Priority Mail flat-rate boxes and envelopes
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About the Author

Barbara Kellam-Scott has written since 1981 for print publications including "MassBay Antiques" and the award-winning corporate science magazine "Bellcore EXCHANGE." She writes as an advocate and lay Bible scholar in the Presbyterian Church. Kellam-Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts in intercultural studies from Ramapo College of New Jersey and conducted graduate work in sociology, theology and Biblical Hebrew.