How To Ship Books with USPS

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Shipping books can be a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the process. However, with the right knowledge and tools, it can be a breeze. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how to ship books with USPS, offering step-by-step instructions, cost-saving tips, common mistakes to avoid, and much more.


To ship books with USPS, first ensure your items qualify for Media Mail. Then, package your books securely in a suitable box or envelope. Write the recipient’s address and your return address on the package, then weigh it to determine the correct postage. Purchase Media Mail postage online or at a USPS location, attach the label to your package, and seal it securely. Finally, drop off your package at a USPS location or schedule a pickup, and track it using the provided tracking number.

USPS Shipping Services for Books

USPS offers a variety of shipping services, each with its own benefits. The most popular and cost-effective option for shipping books is Media Mail. This service is specifically designed for sending books, film, manuscripts, sound recordings, video tapes, and computer media like CDs and DVDs. Media Mail rates start at just $2.80 for a one-pound package, and the cost increases by $0.53 for each additional pound.

For faster delivery, USPS Priority Mail delivers within 1-3 business days, and USPS Priority Mail Express offers overnight delivery to most U.S. addresses.

Step-By-Step Guide to Shipping Books with USPS

  1. Check eligibility: Ensure that the items you’re shipping qualify for Media Mail. The package should not contain any advertising materials, and only eligible media items are allowed.
  2. Package the items: Purchase an appropriate envelope or box for the items you’re shipping. You can find envelopes and boxes at office supply stores or USPS locations.
  3. Pack the items securely: Make sure the items are well-protected to prevent damage during transit. You can use bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or other cushioning materials to protect the items.
  4. Address the package: Write the recipient’s address and your return address clearly on the package.
  5. Weigh the package: Media Mail rates are based on the weight of the package. Weigh your package to determine the correct postage.
  6. Purchase postage: You can buy Media Mail postage online through the USPS website or at your local USPS location. Print the postage label and attach it to your package.
  7. Seal the package: Use 2-inch packing tape to securely seal the package.
  8. Drop off the package: Take your package to a USPS location or schedule a pickup if available in your area.
  9. Track the package: Media Mail includes tracking, so you can monitor the progress of your package and know its estimated delivery date.

Common Mistakes When Shipping Books with USPS

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure a smooth shipping process:

  1. Not using the appropriate shipping service: USPS Media Mail is the most cost-effective way to ship books within the United States. Make sure to use this service for shipping books to save on costs.
  2. Including non-media items in the package: Media Mail rates are limited to specific items, such as books, CDs, and DVDs. Do not add any items to the package that aren’t books or media, aside from packing material, as this may result in additional postage charges or the package being returned to the sender.
  3. Improper packaging: Books can be damaged during shipping if not packaged properly. Use sturdy cardboard boxes or bubble mailers with plastic lining inside, and wrap the books in bubble wrap or a plastic bag to prevent them from getting wet in the rain.
  4. Not using proper labeling: Media Mail packages must have a delivery address and the sender’s return address. Make sure to print the recipient’s address and the return address neatly and clearly on the package.
  5. Not adhering to weight and size restrictions: USPS Media Mail has a weight limit of 70 lbs per package. Ensure that your package does not exceed this limit to avoid additional charges or the package being returned to the sender.
  6. Not considering delivery time: Media Mail is known for its slower delivery times compared to other USPS services. If the recipient needs the package within a specific time frame, consider using a faster shipping service like USPS Priority Mail.

Shipping books with USPS doesn’t have to be complicated. With this guide, you’re well-equipped to ship your books quickly, securely, and affordably. Happy shipping!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I ship international with Media Mail?

No, Media Mail is only available for domestic shipping within the United States. For international shipping, you can use USPS services such as Priority Mail International or First-Class Mail International.

Is there a tracking number provided when I ship with Media Mail?

Yes, all Media Mail shipments come with a tracking number. You can use this number to track your package’s progress on the USPS website.

Can I include a letter or note in my Media Mail package?

No, Media Mail is strictly for shipping media items like books, CDs, and DVDs. Including personal correspondence could lead to your package being returned or additional postage charges.

What should I do if my package exceeds the 70 lbs weight limit for Media Mail?

If your package exceeds the 70 lbs weight limit for Media Mail, you will need to either separate your items into multiple packages, or use a different USPS shipping service that allows for heavier packages.

Can I schedule a pickup for my Media Mail package?

Yes, you can schedule a package pickup on the USPS website. This service is free of charge and can be a convenient option if you’re unable to visit a USPS location.

How long does it take for a Media Mail package to be delivered?

Delivery times for Media Mail can vary, but it typically takes between 2-8 business days. If you need a package delivered more quickly, consider using Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.

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