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Topic: Best Practice

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Subject: Best Practice
Date Posted: 8/9/2008 10:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 5
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I'm new to PBS, so hi everyone. I just posted my first batch of books and I'm wondering what the best process will be when someone eventually asks me to send them one of my books. I'm sure many of you have been at this for a while, and you probably have it down to a science.

Do you keep book-sized USPS boxes at your house and use the PBS Printable Postage?

Do you make the trip to your local post office every time and just buy postage on a per-book basis?

I'm looking for responses from people who've worked out the kinks and feel they have a really good system down for doing this.

Thanks,

Dustin



Last Edited on: 8/9/08 11:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/10/2008 12:14 AM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 22,610
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I work at the PO, so I just take mine in with me.  I can give you some pointers on things that work. 

Bubble mailers or tyvek envelopes are good ways to ship books without adding a lot of extra weight.  I especially like the tyvek envelopes.  When you are shipping a smaller book, just snug the envelope around the book before you seal the envelope.  That way it doesn't scoot around a lot and receive damage on the edges.

Remember - if your package weighs more than 13 ounces, you must take it to the PO and present it there if you use stamps.  If you are using preprinted postage (like from PBS, stamps.com, etc.) then the 13 ounce rule does not apply.  Also, if you package weighs less than 7 ounces, then first class mail is actually the same price or cheaper than media mail.  If you use Media mail - be SURE to mark the package CLEARLY as Media mail.  If you don't, you run the risk of either the package being returned to you for additional postage, or the person who requested from you will have to pay postage due when it is received.  The PO considers all packages that are not marked otherwise to be either first class or Priority mail depending on the weight of the package.

It is also a good idea to wrap your books in plastic of some sort before shipping.  This way, if the outside of the package becomes wet, your book will be much more likely to have little or no damage.  The tyvek envelopes are water resistant and tear resistant, so as long as you seal them well, they usually do a good job of protecting the contents from the weather.

There is no such thing as too much tape.  I would much rather receive a package that is well taped and kinda hard to get into, than to receive an envelope with nothing inside!  If you tape the address label onto your envelope, be sure to tape all 4 edges VERY WELL.  Labels can and do fall off in processing ( not often, but if it is your package once is enough!).

Hope this helps - if you have more questions, feel free to send me a message!

Cindy

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 2:22 AM ET
Member Since: 7/25/2008
Posts: 15
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Cindy those are some great tips!  Where is the best place to find the tyvek envelopes for a good price?

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 5
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Thanks for taking the time to write, Cindy. Great tips indeed!

It looks like the first books I'll be shipping are thick ones, Harry Potter books. I've never seen the Tyvek envelopes, but I'm assuming they won't cut it for books this size.

-Dustin



Last Edited on: 8/10/08 1:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/10/2008 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I agree with the Tyvek.  I'm down to my last large envelope (10"x16" or so).  I cut them so that the sides are open and use them like they were on a roll of paper.  I can get 2 books wrapped out of 1envelope.  They aren't cheap and I just missed the last sale on Amazon.  So I'm looking for a good price, too.  Would love to see any recommendations.

I re-use every possible mailer (bubble or padded) that I can.  I do not use the manila envelopes because if they aren't padded, they tear with the handling they receive in transit.  I always use some sort of plastic wrapper because if the book is snugly wrapped in plastic it is less likely to get bent or torn pages and/or covers and very much less likely to be ruined by wet weather or wet hazards (like being dropped into mud puddles)  The plastic can protect them from machinery as well - I had one book come in with holes "rubbed" through the wrapper , but the plastic allowed the book to slide on through with no damage.   I live on a rural postal route and our mail carrier couldn't care less about our mail because he/she never closes up the mail boxes.  So between the carrier ,  weather and no plastic I've gotten 3 soaking wet and ruined books. 

Tape with good tape - don't ever use Scotch tape on the outer wrappers.  Good tape coverage will protect the edges and corners of a book.  Also try to form any envelope or wrapper snugly around the book(s) so it doesn't have room to be shoved about inside.  You can find affordable tape at Dollar stores or Costco or Sam's.  You can't use the USPS mailers for priority mail in any form, shape or way.  Even inside out - if they catch it you will be charged for the priority rate.  You can't include anything other than the book, CD. DVD, or printed receipt from PBS in the media mail package.  I've saved some plastic enclosures from various products to use as plastic protectors - but I'm afraid to use them since they have the company's logo and info on it.  It might be a banned element due to advertising which isn't allowed.

Ruth



Last Edited on: 8/10/08 2:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/10/2008 2:15 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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Dustin, Tyvek does indeed come in very large envelope sizes.  But they are very expensive.  There are poly envelopes that have been mentioned on the Questions about PBS section of the forum.  They don't cost much.  they are very light and some have padding.

Ruth

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 4:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 5
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Thanks, Ruth. That's great information. I appreciate you taking the time to write.

-Dustin

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,800
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tyvek envelopes don't tear??  I am sorry but I have to disagree with ya'll on this one.  Almost every one of the tyveked books I've gotten have had big holes in the envelope caused by machines at the sorting center.  No, they don't tear per say, but holes let in water and makes them not water proof.  To avoid this:  make sure you tape the package so that it is TIGHT against the book on all sides.  

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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It isn't tear proof - it's tear resistant - it's what the USPS uses for their Express and Priority envelopes.  If any part of a package is left loose it can easily be caught up in the sorting equipment.  Mainly I use it because it is water resistant and I always make sure it's packaged like wrapping paper on a present.  I try to never have any wrapping on books left loose - it's just asking for trouble!

Ruth

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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BTW, Dustin, if you don't want to make trips to the USPS then buy your postage online - the info that PBS gives you on the addresses allows you to purchase the postage already printed on the wrapper.  It costs a few cents extra but then you don't have to go physically hand the package to a postal clerk - which you would have to do if you put stamps on it and it weighs more than so many ounces (can't remember how many) and it's media mail.  I also buy the PBS DC because then after I mail it I get instant (after I mark it) credit fro the book I mailed and even if it gets lost I don't have to worry so much.  I also get a kick watching the map and the "journey" that the little USPS truck makes to it's destination.  It's just forshow and not accurate - but it does tell you when the book gets to the zip code post office it's bound for.

Ruth

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 5
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Thanks again, folks. I'm getting a lot of book requests right now because I posted 29 books to start. I have a USPS close to work, so I think what I'll do is just take a stack of books with me and mail them off at the same time; consolodate trips to the post office. While I'm there I should be able to locate some water resistant, tear resistant packaging and some good tape I can use the make the packing snug around the book.

I'm a little frownie about the cost of shipping these books out, but I'm trying to remind myself that it will be worth it when I start recieving books back. So far everything I want has me in a queue. One of them is 95 people deep!

Happy swapping,

Dustin

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 10:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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Only 95! LOL And depending on the book, the line may move quickly. On the other hand, there are books where I'm like #3 on a short list where I've been waiting a year (literally).

If the book order postage starts to get away from you, remember you can put your account on hold until you can budget more postage. You can space out orders more that way. I know folks who budget "X:" for postage and when they've spent X, they put their account on hold until next payday!

Also, even with what postage costs, when you figure the cost of buying credits, :"earning" them is cheaper by far.

Welcome!

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 10:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2007
Posts: 1,389
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Last Edited on: 6/5/11 12:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/10/2008 10:39 PM ET
Member Since: 1/13/2008
Posts: 1,728
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if your post office has an APC machine, you can buy stamps according to the media mail rates, and just pop the books in a blue box instead of going to the post office every time.

when my account isnt on hold, i only go to the post office once a week. saves me time and gas

Date Posted: 8/10/2008 11:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 22,610
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I'm back.  As far as using plastic packaging to wrap books in that contains information about what was originally in the plastic bag - that should be OK.  Advertising refers mostly to magazines that contain ads for other products.  These types of items are not allowed in Media Mail.

Using the APC machines can be a real time saver for those of you that use debit or credit cards.  You can purchase several "stamps" with the correct postage for 1 lb., 2 lbs., etc.  BUT - the APC will not give you the postage amount for Media mail.  You have to know before you get there how much postage you need for your book.  One way to get around that is to go to USPS.com, look up the Media mail rates, and keep a short list with you ( up to 4 lbs. or so).  You can weigh your item on the APC, then tell the machine you want to buy a stamp for $XX.XX . 

I buy tyvek envelopes at my local office supply store.  They seem to be about the same price as a decent bubble mailer. but when your book is getting close to that 1 or 2 pound mark, they can mean the difference in paying for the less expensive rate.  Bubble mailers at the PO are expensive compared to what you can get other places, so I only use them when I absolutely have to.  I also reuse any and all mailers I receive.  Also, packaging tape at the PO is expensive.  I go to one of the dollar stores for mine.  That way I don't feel like I need to scrimp on the tape, cuz the whole roll just cost me $1.

One more thing - if you use the APC machine - books are considered parcels or packages - NOT large envelopes.  Only the thinnest books MIGHT qualify as a large envelope, and then only if it is a paperback version.  Any larger envelope that is rigid or more than 3/4 inch thick is considered to be a parcel.

Manila or paper envelopes can be used - BUT - tape extremely well on all sides and corners, or the books will tend to pop out of them, especially the larger ones!

Cindy



Last Edited on: 8/10/08 11:32 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/10/2008 11:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 5
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Gotcha, don't buy supplies from the PO. It sounds like the dollar store is a good place to get packing tape, and office supply stores are less expensive than the PO for Tyvek. I've got Kinko's, Staples, Office Depot...probably even a few mom & pop shops. I'll just need to do some price comparisons.

Thank you for the welcome, Mary :)

-Dustin



Last Edited on: 8/10/08 11:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/11/2008 2:46 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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It is a good idea to keep your trips to the PO (if you have to go there) consolidated.  Just put a notice on your posts or on your profile about it.  I never go to the PO.  I hate going to the PO.  Whenever my family members are out and about I have them put the books in the closest blue mailbox!  Of course I do buy the PBS postage and PBS DC, so it's no big deal.  If you have a postal scale you can do your own weighing and buy that postage from PBS instead of their recommended postage since they are usually a little off on the heavy side!

Ruth

Date Posted: 8/11/2008 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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One more tip on wrapping if you choose to do that instead of envelopes - I usually use bubble wrap-lined envelopes, but for the occasional multi-book order, I wrap.

I got a roll of  wallpaper for less than 50 cents at Goodwill and use that and lots of tape to wrap those larger orders. Obviously, it's NOT the pre-pasted kind!

I really reemphasize the folks who have recommended getting your own scale. PBS tries, but the last few book weights thru them have been WAY off - over AND under actual book weight. Doesn't have to be a postage scale, a kitchen scale would do. I got mine for less than $20 at Target. Check out Goodwills and other thrift stores, and of course the PBS kiosk sells one!

Date Posted: 8/11/2008 11:08 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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Dustin B wrote
Date Posted: 8/9/2008 10:59 PM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 5
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>I'm new to PBS, so hi everyone. I just posted my first batch of books and I'm wondering what the best process will >be when someone eventually asks me to send them one of my books. I'm sure many of you have been at this for a >while, and you probably have it down to a science.

>Do you keep book-sized USPS boxes at your house and use the PBS Printable Postage?

now a word of warning you said you wanted to use USPS boxes here -the only boxes the USPS offers

are the either the priority mail or express mail boxes and YOU can NOT use them for anything else

expect for those services  (like if you sent a priority box media mail (or first class) it will be be caught and your receiver will

end up paying for the Priority mail fee (postage due)

and dont try turning the box inside out the Post office is now even printing "priorty  mail"on the inside of those boxes

here is an suggestion  you can go to Fedex or UPS and get those boxes (also free) and use them to

send them via the postal service media mail or first class mail

 

Subject: what about delivery confirmation
Date Posted: 8/12/2008 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 8/8/2008
Posts: 2
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should you purchase it?

Date Posted: 8/12/2008 12:03 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2007
Posts: 357
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Sam's Club has the best deal on bubble mailers.  8.5 x 11 size mailers are 25 for $6.88.  That's less than 30 cents each!  I keep a box on hand, it has lasted me over six months  because I get enough books already in bubble mailers and I recycle those first.  I only use a new one when I am out of the recycled ones.

 



Last Edited on: 8/12/08 1:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: Delivery Confirmation
Date Posted: 8/12/2008 3:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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If you're buying PBS postage, you have to buy it (Delivery Confirmation). The bonus is that you get your credit as soon as you mark the book "Mailed" (instead of having to wait for it to be received)

If you buy just DC from PBS and use stamps for postage, you still get a bonus: you get your credit as soon as the DC is scanned along the way after you mail it

If you use DC bought through PayPal or the post office, there's no benefit at PBS other than you knowing whether the book got there or not. I mailed books for over a year here with no DC and had few, if any, lost books. Now I use PayPal to print postage and it makes me buy DC (18 cents); I can't see that it does me any good but I love not having to go in the PO to mail, so I think of it as a convenience fee.

PayPal postage: https://www.paypal.com/us/cql-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now

ETA: Clarification that "it" was DC



Last Edited on: 8/12/08 3:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: Packing supplys
Date Posted: 8/13/2008 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,418
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Walmart has good packing tape.  I checked out Office  max and was surprised how cheap packing supplys were.  Also there are several online places where you can get any kind of envelope you would want.  I ordered a huge box of assorted sizes-and still have most of the smallest size left.  I can't remember the name...I think it is something like e-supply????

Date Posted: 8/14/2008 6:36 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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There was a thread a while back (started by me) asking if people used poly mailers and recycled them and if they were Tapers or not.  Good thoughts on hows & whys of PBS packing methods.  Someone also gave a link to an ebay seller for poly mailers.

Date Posted: 8/20/2008 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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I try to go to the Post Office on Wednesdays and Saturday the weeks I have orders.

I accept the order as soon as I see them and choose the furthest date out, but in reality I will probably go to the post office on the next Wednesday or Saturday that occurs.  I also send a quick note to the requestor offering a 3/2 special (i.e. order one more and get one free) if they respond before I mail the books.  Sometimes folks take me up on this.  This helps my books move and gives them a free book.

The day before I am going to the post office, I print out the labels and wrap the books.  I get plastic wrap from Cosco and it has just the right amount of cling so that it doesn't stick to itself easily and it has a nifty sliding cutter which makes getting a layer of plastic around the books a piece of cake.  I then wrap in one of the following:  several sheets of white paper, a gift bag, a reused bubble envelope, or other material.  I always mark through old mailers with a big black marker just in case my label comes off... I wouldn't want the book to go to the address of the label underneath.  I take care to reinforce corners and edges with packing tape.  I fold all mailers around the book so that there is no wiggle room.   I have had some packages arrive to me with no book... and I could see they were in a mailer with a lot of wiggle room and the constant wiggling rubbed an opening in one of the edges and bye-bye book.

Once I get back from the Post Office, I click the Mailed Book button.  I have heard too many horror stories of wild things that can happen on the way to the post office, I err on the side of clicking after I know it has been mailed.

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