USPS Media Mail: What It Is and When to Use It

USPS Media Mail is the cheapest way to ship books, vinyl records, and educational materials with the US Postal Service
USPS Media Mail is the cheapest way to send books, records, and educational materials with USPS
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USPS Media Mail
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USPS Media Mail is the most cost-effective way to send items such as books, vinyl records, videos, and other educational materials with US Postal Service. Media Mail takes a bit longer to delivery than the other USPS mail classes (between 2-8 business days), but it is a fantastic money-saving perk for sending these types of items. However, it comes with some pretty strict guidelines. In order to be sent Media Mail, packages can ONLY contain the qualifying media products that USPS has defined. Also, USPS reserves the right to inspect packages to verify that they only contain items that quality for Media Mail.

What Qualifies for USPS Media Mail?

According to the list on USPS’ website, the following are items that quality for USPS Media Mail:

  • Books that contain at least 8 pages
  • CDs, DVDs, records, tapes, or other audio and video recordings
  • Scripts for plays, books, periodicals, and musicals
  • Printed sheet music
  • Computer-readable media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media
  • Sixteen millimeter or narrower width films
  • Printed objective test materials and their accessories
  • Printed educational reference charts
  • Loose-leaf pages and their binders consisting of medical information for distribution to doctors, hospitals, medical schools, and medical students.

How Much Does It Cost?

Media Mail is priced based on weight, and the Retail Rate starts at just $2.80 for a 1 pound single-piece package. After 1 pound, the price increases by just $0.53 per pound for single-piece Media Mail (for example, a 2 pound package costs $3.33). Unfortunately, since Media Mail is already priced so affordably, there are typically no postage discounts available through shipping software.

Heads Up: No Pieces Can Contain Advertising

If you wish to send your package Media Mail, you CANNOT include any advertising inside. This is an extremely important point. If USPS finds advertising of any kind inside your package, it will be disqualified for Media Mail and you’ll end up paying way more money for “postage due” with another service like Priority Mail. That would defeat the whole purpose of trying to save money by sending your parcel USPS Media Mail in the first place.

What About Comic Books or Graphic Novels?

Unfortunately, comic books and graphic novels do not quality for USPS Media Mail.

Can I Send A Book Subscription Box USPS Media Mail?

Book subscription boxes are getting more popular, and people often ask if they can ship them Media Mail. Book subscription boxes can qualify for Media Mail service, but there can ONLY be books in the package. You cannot include anything else inside—no shirts, no bookmarks, no pens…nothing. Just books.

If you’re thinking that nothing but books sounds a bit boring for a subscription box, you’re not wrong. Subscription boxes are all about your customers getting the most bang for their buck—it’s all about creating an experience for them, after all. If you’re running a book subscription business and you want to include other items in your box, your best bet to save money is to ship your boxes USPS Priority Mail Cubic. Your boxes will also arrive at their destinations faster, between just 1 and 3 days!

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4 Comments

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  1. Donald

    Can you wrap a vinyl record in newspaper (inside the shipping box) and qualify for the media mail rates?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Donald, good question! I wouldn’t necessarily try to wrap the vinyl record in newspaper, if we’re being honest. USPS is super strict about anything containing advertising being in violation of what qualifies for Media Mail, and it’s tough to say what would (or wouldn’t) be on the newspaper pages.

      If you’re looking to wrap your vinyl record, I’d suggest picking up some packing material like foam roll that you can get either at your local Target/Staples or on ULINE here.

      Reply  
    • Becca

      When was this written? Are these shipping rates for Media Mail still accurate?

      Reply  
      • Rockwell Sands

        Hi Becca, we first wrote this article in 2018, but we keep it updated each year with the current prices. USPS raises their rates each year, and this article reflects the most accurate information.

        Reply  

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