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Topic: another question about mailing books

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Subject: another question about mailing books
Date Posted: 1/20/2010 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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 I have a question about mailing packages.  I printed out the wrapper, which was a white piece of paper that had the address of the requestor and my address on it.  I put the book into a ziplock bag to keep it safe then wrapped it in brown package paper.  I mailed out seven books today, and each one varied in cost, which would be expected, some more or less pages, thicker paper, cover sheet and such can affect weight.

What confuses me is, the paper that is printed out that I am assuming is a wrapper would in no way cover the book.  Is there another page I should print out, or is what I do okay?  I would rather pay a few pennies more and put it into a bag that will protect it and wrap it in brown paper than the white copier paper that I have.  The prices varied from $2.20 to $2.40 and one at $2.65 (that was for the two books which was sent media mail).

I know that how much paper is used is also a factor in weight.  I am considering getting my own weight scales to get an idea of what is accurate.  I bought some stamps of $1 and have some that are 44 cents left over from Christmas. 

I am assuming that if I get a scale it will tell me what the package weights and how much I need to put on it. 


Date Posted: 1/20/2010 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2007
Posts: 1,642
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If you are mailing a paperback book (regular mass market size) there is an option for a 2 sheet wrapper that will cover the book. If you are mailing a larger book you can print out the one page label and put that on the brown paper. I've copied the following from the help center:

How to Wrap a Book

How to wrap a Book

You are not required to use the PBS wrapper.  You can use alternate packaging for any shipment (heavier/larger and multiple-book shipments may require this), using the 1-page PBS Label (the far right layout choice on the Wrapper Settings page) as an address label. You can also hand-write the address on your package. 

Here are the options for how to wrap a book so that it is carried safely to its destination, and arrives in the same condition as it was when it left you!

The 2-page PBS Wrapper:

  • Works well for single paperbacks, or even two small books packaged together
  • See Using the PBS Wrapper: a tutorial for instructions, with photos, on how to use the 2-page PBS Wrapper to wrap a book. 
  • If you have a larger or heavy book, or a multiple-book shipment to send, the 2-page PBS Wrapper alone will not provide sturdy enough packaging on its own to protect your book(s) en route.  You will need to use alternate packaging methods.

The 1-page PBS "Label"

  • Cannot be used alone to wrap a book
  • Is intended for use as an address label on alternate packaging (ie, for multiple-book shipments)

Alternate Packaging:

  • Suggestions for alternate packaging materials:
  • Heavy brown paper (from a cut-down grocery sack)
  • Manila envelope
    • tape it down tightly around the book(s) to prevent "flaps" that can get caught in postal machinery
    • if your envelope has a metal clasp, this can rub against the book cover and cause damage--a piece of tape over the inside portion of the clasp will prevent this.
  • Bubble or padded mailer
  • Tyvek or similar large envelope
    • tape it down tightly around the book(s) to prevent "flaps" that can get caught in postal machinery
  • Box
    • prevent your books from sliding around inside with crumpled paper (NOT newspaper--the ink can mark the books!) or (clean) plastic shopping bags, balled up.

Poor choices for alternate packaging materials:

  • Giftwrapping paper (too thin)
  • Newspaper (can smudge ink onto the books)
  • Priority mail envelope (this is illegal to use for MediaMail, even if you are reusing it, and even if you turn it inside out!)
    • if you do this, and the package is inspected, it will arrive postage-due at the requestor's, or be returned postage-due to you (the additional postage required will be the difference between postage paid and Priority Mail rate)

General Guidelines for Wrapping:

  • Your book(s) must be completely enclosed in the wrapping

  • Use plenty of tape (2" shipping tape, not Scotch)
    • especially at the corners and seams.
    • You can get shipping tape at any store that sells stationery or shipping supplies.
    • Do not apply tape directly to the book! This can damage the book when the package is opened.
      • If you apply tape directly to the book and it is then damaged when the package is opened, you will not receive a credit.
    • Do not tape over the postage (USPS does not accept this)
    • Do not apply postage to tape (it can fall off)
    • It is okay to apply clear tape over the DC barcode if you are sending a package with PBS-DC or Printable Postage
      • If you do this, avoid wrinkles in the tape that can interfere with barcode scanning
  • Make sure that all flaps and folds, on whatever type of wrapping you use, are secured tightly to your package.
    • It is easy for flaps or folds that are not secured to get snagged by sorting machines in the USPS system, and this can cause damage to (or loss of) your book.
  • Consider using an inner layer of plastic
    • You can use Saran Wrap, or clean plastic grocery bags, or any kind of clean plastic material
    • please do not use "Press and Seal". This product contains some type of glue that sticks to the books.
      • If you wrap your book in this and it is then damaged when the package is opened, you will not receive a credit.
      • If you get a book that was wrapped using Press-and-Seal, a little rubbing alcohol will remove the residue from the book cover.
Date Posted: 1/20/2010 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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What you do is fine, you are not required to wrap in the "wrapper", you can even hand write the address if you would like. You can select to have it print out two pages but that will only cover paperbacks (in my experience). Most other books will require additional wrapping anyway. 

Yes, you can get a scale that measures in ounces and put the postage on yourself. You can even print postage off of this website. One word of caution I would give though is not to rely on the estimated postage and weight that the website gives. It isn't always wrong, but its best to err on the side of caution lest you end up paying far too much for shipping, or fall short and cause the receiver to have to go to the PO and pay the difference.

Last Edited on: 1/20/10 5:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/20/2010 5:53 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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You don't have to use their wrapper.  I only use them on a very thin paperback.  What you are doing is fine.  You also might want to invest in a scale of some sort to weigh your books.  I have found that the weights I get from PBS and suggested postage are always way off.  As an example.  Today I sent a book that turned out to weigh a little more than 4 ounces with the wrapper (it was a 200 page paperback).  According to PBS, I should have put on $2.38 in postage and it should have gone Media Mail.  I do my postage through Paypal and I paid $1.73 First Class plus .19 for DC. 

I send all books up to 10 oz (the cut-off for first class is 13 oz) First Class not only because it will get there quicker, but also because if something goes wrong with the delivery, I will get the book back.  If you send Media Mail, there is no "return to sender".  At 10 ounces, the difference between First Class and Media Mail is .20.  That extra .20 is worth it to me for the peace of mind knowing I will get the book back if it is undeliverable. 

Wrapping a book in brown paper works well as long as you use packing tape and tape the ends closed really well.  Most damage I have seen in packages are to the ends of packages wrapped in brown paper.  If all the parts of the end are not taped down well, they can catch in one of the machines and get ripped. 

Last Edited on: 1/20/10 5:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/20/2010 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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"If you send Media Mail, there is no "return to sender". "

Actually that is not a true statement...with Media Mail they WILL return the package to the sender but, you the sender would have to pay the return postage.

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2008
Posts: 9,884
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You don't have to use just the wrapper.  I bought some Martha Stewart cardstock on sale at Walmart.  It covers most books completely.  You can also use recycled paper bags or reinforced wrapping paper.  Some have purchased bubble mailers to send books, but you don't have to.

I purchased a postal scale a few years ago.  The prices are outdated now but the weight is still accurate.  I weigh the wrapped book, then go to USPS.com and calculate the postage.  If you use stamps and the book weighs more than 13 oz, you need to take it to the post office.  But if you go to the APC machine at the post office, you can purchase stamps by typing in the amount requested.  Then you can just drop it in the box without having to wait in line.

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 10:10 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,495
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If you go to the APC, please note that the machines do not offer media mail rates.  (An attempt to get more money for USPS.)  I bring a cheat sheet of media mail rates and select the option to print a different value stamp.

And never under estimate the importance of packing tape.

Last Edited on: 1/20/10 10:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Thanks everyone for the hlep.
Date Posted: 1/20/2010 11:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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Date Posted: 1/20/2010 11:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Welcome to PBS Janette, and good luck with the book wrapping!

Subject: opps, hit the wrong key
Date Posted: 1/20/2010 11:45 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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I had checked out the info here on the site, but I guess I have been trying to absorbe too much and missed or didn't remember the info about wrapping the books.  I prefer to wrap on my own, using the brown wrapping paper for boxes and such instead of copier paper.  I put the book(s) in a ziplock bag and then wrapped it.  I am prone to use a lot of tape, and use the packaging take, so it should keep dry.

I will pick up a scale and weight the books myself and have plenty of stamps here at home, I can either put them, when there is only one or two, in my mailbox or have hubby drop them off at the post office on his way to work, he goes right past it. 

Thanks for the help.


Date Posted: 1/21/2010 7:34 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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I prefer to wrap on my own, using the brown wrapping paper for boxes and such instead of copier paper.  I put the book(s) in a ziplock bag and then wrapped it.  I am prone to use a lot of tape, and use the packaging take, so it should keep dry.

I like to wrap mine with saran wrap, with the bottom half of the label wrapped inside where the P.O. can see it if it comes seperated from the wrapper. One of my books apparently arrived only in saran wrap and the label once.

I also like to use the Large Card Envelopes they sell at a lot of places. Usually my cost is 10 cents an envelope, and they're large enough to completely cover one MMPB book. Nice paper stock, and tape sticks to them well.

I've had too much trouble with tape not sticking to brown wrapping paper. I find I use less packing tape on the envelope paper. And depending on which brand you buy, some of that brown paper is awful thin.

But you're free to find out what works for you, as long as it gets there in good shape.

Subject: thanks for the tips
Date Posted: 1/21/2010 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2010
Posts: 400
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Thanks I hadn't thought about putting the address inside.  I will  add it inside the plastic bag.  I like the idea of the card envelope also.  I over tape because I have had items falling apart when I received them so I go wild with tape.  I have the heavy brown paper, I sometimes ship overseas to nephew  soldier so I want them to get there save.  Even though they are in boxes, I like to be extra careful.

I have six books to mail out today.  Hubby gave me a weird look when I asked him to get me $ 1.00 stamps.  He is getting me some others, around 20 and 40 cents and that will add up to $20 worth of stamps.


Thanks again for the help


Date Posted: 1/21/2010 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,495
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The postcard stamps and the dime stamps are great together.  For that media mail 38 cents.