How to Ship Books for Cheap

You have a few different options for shipping books, but USPS Media Mail Service is by far the cheapest way
the cheapest way to ship books is USPS Media Mail
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Who doesn’t love curling up with a good piece of fiction (or nonfiction)? Even though readers consume a good portion of literature via audiobook and tablets like the Amazon Kindle nowadays, there is still huge demand for physical books in eCommerce. If you’re a book seller looking for the best way to ship books for cheap, we’ve got you covered. Time to turn the page and see what you find!

Table of Contents

USPS Media Mail is the Cheapest Way to Ship Books

If you’re looking for the cheapest way to ship books, look no further than USPS Media Mail Service. Media Mail is widely known throughout the industry as the perfect way to send books, since the rates are so low. In fact, book sellers have long used Media Mail to their advantage to capture the widest margins possible. For shipments under 1 pound (which covers most individual books), Media Mail only costs $2.80 to send out!

That said, Media Mail is a slower service than other USPS services, with delivery occurring anywhere between 2-8 business days. So, the tradeoff you get for such low rates with Media Mail is a slower delivery timeframe than other services.

Can I Find Better Media Mail Discounts In a Particular Place?

Since Media Mail is already so heavily discounted, the rates for this service are uniform no matter where you look. In fact, Media Mail rates are the same on the USPS website as they are on all the different online shipping software options. That said, we always prefer using shipping software over the USPS website, because it’s so much easier to buy postage. The USPS website can be a bit complicated, especially if you’re a new shipper who wants something sleek and easy.

By the way, we always like choosing the shipping software that’s free, charges zero markups on top of the cost of postage, and doesn’t hit you with hidden monthly service fees.

If you’re like us and are on the hunt for the best shipping software for you, check out our Reviews page.

Scheduling Free Pickups vs. Going to the Post Office

The tricky thing about shipping Media Mail is that USPS won’t allow you to schedule a free pickup if that’s the only service you’re shipping! For example, let’s say you have 25 book shipments that are all USPS Media Mail. USPS won’t come pick those up from your home or office unless you include at least one other shipment for First Class Package, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express.

So, if you’re sending out tons of books via Media Mail and can’t make it to the Post Office, here’s a hack for you. Buy at least one of your shipping labels as Priority Mail or First Class Package. USPS will come pick up your packages then, and you won’t have to lug your books to the Post Office.

For Quicker Delivery, Try First Class Package for Another Cheap Book Shipping Service

Speaking of First Class Package: for quicker delivery than Media Mail, USPS First Class Package Service is the next cheapest option for shipping books. First Class Package delivery occurs between 1-3 business days, and is the premier service for sending lightweight items under 16 ounces (1 lb).

However, First Class Package is typically more expensive than Media Mail. When you use online shipping software to buy postage, First Class Package typically costs around $3-4 per shipment. Still, if you want quicker delivery, then an extra buck or two may be worth it to swallow.

No Matter What Service You Use, Consider Purchasing Shipping Insurance

Whether you ship your books via Media Mail or First Class Package, it’s important to protect yourself. So, we definitely recommend that you purchase shipping insurance. Neither of these two services comes with built-in USPS insurance like Priority Mail services do. As a result, you’re not protected in case your book shipments get lost in transit or arrive damaged.

Shipping insurance only costs a couple of extra bucks, and is well worth the investment…especially if you’re sending rare items like first editions of classic novels. So, spring for the shipping insurance. Hemingway would be proud.

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  1. Johanna Cantillo

    Hello! What about shipping books internationally? Does this system work as well? What other services exist to ship books internationally?

  2. Caira

    What about a large quantity of books in one shipment? Is media mail still an option?

  3. pierre

    I would like to know the price of shipping cost for single books to EU. (France, germany, Spain, Belgium…) Thank you.

    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Pierre – exact shipping costs depend on the size of your packages that contain the books, as well as the weight and how far they’re traveling. You can use this rate calculator to get an instant rate quote from both USPS and UPS to see how much it will cost to send them to those European countries. That’s the software I use to purchase labels at the cheapest prices. I hope this helps!

  4. Mike Carter

    Do all Post Offices offer media mail?

    • Rockwell Sands

      Mike – Yep! As long as your package qualifies for Media Mail, you can access this service at any Post Office. You can also buy Media Mail labels online through Click N’ Ship on the USPS website, if you like.

  5. are speaking

    I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your content. This great article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I subscribed to your RSS feed too.


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