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Topic: Will media mail ever be eliminated?

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Subject: Will media mail ever be eliminated?
Date Posted: 9/5/2007 2:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I was mailing a big old stack of books at the PO today, and the counter guy told me that because USPS loses so much money on media mail, he thinks it will be eliminated next time the rates increase.

Has this been discussed here? Any thoughts?

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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that is the first I've heard of it.   If they do that they will wipe out sites like this because I'm not sending a book at first class postage (unless it is a smaller lighter book).

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 3:00 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 527
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Last Edited on: 1/21/09 10:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/5/2007 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/15/2006
Posts: 78
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As a postal employee for 18 years I would say it is some idiot's idea that has never mailed a book, delivered a book, worked at a postal counter and probably never reads books!!!! Media Mail is a BIG part of the parcels! They'll probably throw the idea around and then decide to make the rates a little higher. ... although not as expensive as First Class in the end. That would be my guess! No wonder people get mad at the PO!
Date Posted: 9/5/2007 4:25 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2007
Posts: 3
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I agree -- the USPS would catch too much flak by eliminating Media Mail, but I could see the rate being increased to the point there is little advantage over Parcel Post.

If there were even a hint Media Mail was going away, the ALA (American Library Association) has a strong lobbying arm and would fight this tooth and nail.

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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I can't remember when, sometime in the dark past when I was a fairly new window clerk the PO talked about doing this.  Congress said "No".

I can see both sides of it.  We are the only postal service to have ever offered it because it is such a money loser.  I've posted the history of it a few times but I'm sure it has been far enough back that it has dropped off the forum.

In a nutshell, Ben Franklin (the first Postmaster General) started it to address a situation that no longer exists.  After the Revolution we had very few libraries and we were primarily a rural population.  Good old Ben wanted people to have reasonalble access to books so he instituted the Book Rate classification.

Obviously access to books is no longer a problem so logically the rate doesn't make sense, especially since we lose money on most of it.  Even the large book clubs don't use it, they mail in bulk and get a bigger break using Bulk Bound Printed Matter with a return endorsement.

Will the PO every do away with it?  Who knows?  Fewer and fewer books are being sold each year.  As the cost of handling them goes up and volume drops the PO will have to take a look at it.  Also consider that it could also eventually come to factoring the lose on Media Mail into the cost of other services and then perhaps the Postal Regulatory Commission (the body that actually sets classes and rates, not the PO) with the support of the average person who never uses it will decide it is time to let it fade into history.

I doubt that if this does happen it will be in the near future.  But imagine a world where almost any book can be read on line or on TV, just like music and movies now, and I think for sure it will end.  But as I said, who knows?

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 9:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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Thanks, Steve...I feel a little better now! I just joined PBS last week, I don't want anyone yanking away my media rates just yet, LOL.

The counter guy said they'd probably keep the materials for the blind and library mailing rates, just drop the rest of media mail.

I hate the thought of having to read a book online, but I'm sure that is where we're headed, slowly but surely. Ugh.

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2007
Posts: 2,164
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I have often wondered how PBS and other similar sites have affected what you mention, Steve, about fewer books being mailed each year.  Has there been a significant increase in the use of media mail in the last few years due to book swapping sites?

Date Posted: 9/6/2007 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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I cannot imagine trying to read a book online.  I know that you can do it with e-books but I spend enough time on a computer during the day, it is the last thing I want to be doing at night!

Date Posted: 9/6/2007 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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I don't know Lisa, I don't have access to that kind of data.  My comment wasn't about people mailing books, it was about them buying and reading books.  Reading in general is way down, at least in print.

Newspapers are struggling, magazine publication and circulation is down, at least for those with true intellectual content, and the short story market is almost nonexistant.

I dread the "electronic" era of books that could possible come about in the future but on the other hand I probably won't see it.

I hate reading books, articles, etc. online.  I especially hate user manuals that have to be read on the computer.  I tend to make notes and underline things and  you can't do this without printing the darn things out.

Oh well.....................

 

Date Posted: 9/7/2007 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2007
Posts: 527
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Last Edited on: 1/18/09 2:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/7/2007 9:11 AM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2006
Posts: 1
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It sure would be hard to take my computer to the beach LOL!  Sand in the processor doesn't help the beast.  And, reading a book from the tiny screen on my Palm is miserable too although okay in a pinch (i.e. waiting in line somewhere).  I just can't imagine a world without magazines and nice, conveniently-sized paperbacks to tuck into a purse or tote.  UGH...this is progress???

Date Posted: 9/8/2007 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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reading books online thats kind of hard to when you are on the "throne" (who doesnt

take reading material then?)

Date Posted: 9/9/2007 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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Mark, a laptop, wireless network, and TV tray work just fine.....