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

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!

85 Comments

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  1. Ex

    What about coloring books? Do they qualify? New unused ones.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      I believe coloring books actually do qualify for Media Mail, as long as they exceed 8 pages!

      Reply  
  2. Jim

    I would like to send DVD’s by Media Mail & I know that’s ok, but some of the original DVD jackets may have an offer printed on the inside of the jacket, does that mean the jacket must be removed before sending the DVD, if so, is it better to send them 1st Class instead… Thank you for your response!

    Reply  
    • Michele

      I would like to send 59 Disney VHS tapes via media mail. So they qualify and how do I calculate cost?

      Reply  
      • Rockwell Sands

        Michele – These definitely qualify. Media Mail rates are calculated on a per-pound basis. You’ll need to place all of the VHS tapes inside a single package, and then weigh it (rounding up to the nearest pound). You can see the weight-based rates for Media Mail here: https://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm#_c059

        Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Jim – Thanks for your patience with my reply. In the case of those particular DVD’s, I would remove those jackets that contain offers or advertisements of any kind, just to be safe!

      Reply  
  3. Rick Bowling

    Can can non sport cards be sent media mail

    Reply  
  4. Rick Bowling

    Can I ship non sport cards, like Davy Crockett at the Alamo, zorro, or hulk cards media mail?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Rick – Thanks for your patience with my reply. Sports cards and non sports cards (including trading cards) unfortunately don’t qualify for Media Mail. Wish I had better news!

      Reply  
  5. Jasmine

    Can I send a collectible book such as a “50 Years of Playboy” hardcover book via media mail? No advertising!

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Jasmine – As long as the book doesn’t contain advertising and the total length exceeds 8 pages, this should be perfectly fine to send via Media Mail!

      Reply  
  6. Mark Penn

    Hello – Thanks for all this good information, and I hope my question has not been asked before – I did run through the list to check, but… It appears that the USPS does not allow me to purchase media mail postage online (a la Click-and-Ship). Is there a better way to do that? Also, the local PO made me by Media Mail labels (a packet of 2 for $0.99 – kind of a ripoff…). What’s the best way to avoid these speedbumps – sign up with a shipping software service? Thanks in advance….

    Reply  
  7. Peggy Way

    I have some old Nitendo Power magazines I need to ship. They were put out by the Nintendo company. They have gaming clues and cheat codes intheir games in them as well as information about the newest games.. Would they qualify for media mail?

    Reply  
    • Scout

      No, they do not qualify. If they happen to open and check your box, it will almost certainly be denied.

      Reply  
  8. Tiffany

    If I put a card in the package that says thank you using our business with links to our fb and stuff is that advertising?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Tiffany – unfortunately USPS may indeed consider those slips as advertising. The best bet for Media Mail is to not include anything except the products themselves. Wish I had better news!

      Reply  
      • J Somma

        I believe you can include transaction info such as an invoice with the media material when using media mail.

        Reply  
  9. Dave Webb

    Can I use Media Mail to ship a DVD set of 8 DVD’s about WW ll.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Dave – yes, these absolutely qualify for Media Mail! Just make sure nothing else is in the package and you’ll be good.

      Reply  
  10. Christine

    Oops I clicked on reply instead of post comment.

    Hi! Do artbooks qualify? The artbook has only artwork and no words.

    Reply  
    • Mary R

      I would think so. If is a hard-cover book, I don’t know why it wouldn’t. I don’t what would disqualify it from the media category .

      Reply  
  11. Sam Kahan

    I need to ship, halfway across the country, a mini-library of some 2,000 volumes now in storage. It seems to me that Media Mail is, by some distance, the most economical option, despite the inconvenience of shipping the books in dozens of small Media Mail boxes. Do you happen to know of a service that would send its employees to the storage space to collect the boxes and ship them Media Mail for me ? I figure there must be some alternative to shuttling endlessly between the storage space and the post office, carrying and shipping the boxes one by one. Any input would be much appreciated. Thanks.

    Reply  
  12. Kris

    My sister and I need to exchange journals, that our mother wrote for many years. Would these qualify?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Kris – your mother’s written journals won’t qualify for Media Mail, I’m afraid. If you’re looking for a cheap service to send these back and forth, try First Class Package or the Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope.

      Reply  
  13. Rich

    I have a bunch of Guitar For The Practicing Musician magazines that contain sheet music that I’d like to send via media mail. Do they qualify?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Rich – yes, printed sheet music qualifies for Media Mail, as long as there’s nothing else in the package!

      Reply  
    • Ruth

      If it’s a magazine, it most likely contains ads. Individual sheet music is different.

      Reply  
  14. Wayne

    Do I have to write, “Media Mail” on the package?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Wayne – no, you do not. If your package qualifies and you print a Media Mail label that you affix to your box or envelope, that’s all USPS needs to see.

      Reply  
  15. Mary Rohne

    I am wondering if Postcard Books can be sent by Media Mail. They are soft-cover books with ISBN numbers. The postcards are tear-out.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Mary – I don’t believe these will qualify for Media Mail rates, unfortunately. The only “books” that qualify are literature and educational reference booklets. You may want to ask your local Postmaster, though! It couldn’t hurt to try.

      Reply  
  16. Vanessa

    I have a set of “Ask Me” Southwestern Advantage educational home schooling books I want to ship. The back cover of each book talks about going to a separate website to “bring your books to life!” through videos, music and activities to reinforce what you learn in the books. It does not mention needing to buy anything. Can I use media mail to ship these? They’re close to 12 pounds.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Vanessa – these can definitely qualify for Media Mail! These are considered educational booklets, so you’re totally good to go there. Just make sure nothing else is in the package other than the books themselves.

      Reply  
  17. Ferit Tuzer

    can I send blank printing paper as media mail, as 1 ream will have exorbitant shipping charges compared to the price of paper otherwise. This is “media” after all, it is the medium through which information is distributed.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Ferit – unfortunately, you can’t send blank printing paper with Media Mail. If you’re looking to save money on sending these packages, you may want to look into a shipping software solution that will give you the biggest discounts with USPS. Here is the one I use: http://www.pirateship.com/rates

      I wish I had better news, but I hope this is helpful!

      Reply  
  18. Dana Butler

    Thanks! Appreciate the feedback!

    Reply  
  19. Dana Butler

    Hiya! I have a box of cd jewel cases with the artwork. I have the CDs in notebooks separately. I’m hoping to send the cases to my brother in CA via media mail. It’s a big box with about 1000 cases but definitely under the 70# weight limit as the CDs are separated. I will bring him the CDs when I fly to visit him. I’m in Hawaii and he’s in CA.

    Do you think I’d have an issue shipping just the cases via media mail rate? Nothing else in the box but the CD cases and CD liner notes.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Dana – as long as you’re only sending CD’s and nothing else (and the jewel cases don’t contain advertisements of any kind), I think you’re okay here! Some Post Offices are more finicky than others, so I would be prepared to take your boxes to the Post Office and display what’s inside of them to make sure you can qualify for Media Mail. Hope this helps!

      Reply  
  20. Dan

    It’s 2021 and cd’s & dvd’s are phasing out, would I be able to send thumb drives?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Dan – Unfortunately, thumb drives don’t qualify for Media Mail. I’m assuming USPS won’t allow for these to ever qualify, because of all the myriad things that could be on them. Wish I had better news!

      Reply  
  21. Katherine

    I would like to send old scrapbooks (notebooks) to a relative weighing 40 plus pounds would this qualify?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Katherine – Scrapbooks don’t qualify for Media Mail, unfortunately. USPS Will require you to ship these via regular Priority Mail service. I wish I had better news!

      Reply  
  22. Alex

    I was just informed at the Post Office that in order to ship BOOKS (specifically) through media mail, the package needs to weight 1lb minimum. Apparently it’s a new rule that started earlier this year. Is it true? I cannot find anything about that requirement online and wonder if the post office worker is mistaken.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Alex – I haven’t heard of this “requirement,” actually. Typically, you can send your book shipments via Media Mail even if they’re under 1 lb…but you still need to pay the 1 lb rate. Rates for Media Mail round up to the nearest pound, so maybe that’s what that particular postal worker meant? It’s worth going back there and trying again though, maybe with a different clerk.

      Reply  
      • Bobby

        Wouldn’t gameboy games technically be considered computer readable media containing prerecorded information if a guide on how to use it is included? 😛

        Reply  
  23. bill

    is there a box size or weight limit?

    Reply  
  24. Cristina

    I have a question, how can I send used books to a charity?
    The libraries in NYC do not accept them and I can’t see myself throwing away books.
    Thanks.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Cristina – you can use Media Mail service to send any used books anywhere! As long as the charity provides you with a shipping address, this is all you need (and some boxes for your books). If you’d like to print Media Mail labels, you can buy them online or go to the Post Office…it’s all the same price. It may make sense to go to the Post Office so they can walk you through the process. You’ll need to provide your own boxes, though.

      Reply  
  25. Rich

    Can I send a vintage dealer car brochure media mail again no advertising just photos and specks?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Rich – in terms of your first question about sending the “how to” manual, I’m not sure this qualifies, since it likely applies to a product sold for commercial use. USPS might technically consider it “Printed educational reference charts” though, which do qualify for Media Mail…but this is a tricky one. I would ask your local Post Office, if I were you!

      As far as the vintage car brochure goes, that one definitely won’t qualify for Media Mail. I wish I had better news!

      Reply  
  26. Rich

    Can I send a reference repair manual ? No advertising just a how too .

    Reply  
  27. Holly

    I want to send a few packs of stickers that weigh less than 10 oz.. can I use media mail or what would be the most economical way to shop in U.S.

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Holly – I don’t believe stickers qualify to be sent via Media Mail service, unfortunately. The cheapest way to send these will be via First Class Package! If you’d like, you can enter in your shipment info here to see how much it will cost to ship. That’s the shipping software I use to buy all my USPS labels.

      Reply  
  28. Eddie

    Can I ship media mail from Cleveland Ohio to Windsor Canada? What is the cost per pound?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Eddie – no, you can’t ship Media Mail to any part of Canada, unfortunately. It’s strictly only a domestic service. You’re better off using an international USPS service like First Class Package International or Priority Mail International. Wish I had better news!

      Reply  
    • Agatha

      Actually, you can ship books internationally by media mail; it’s called “mbag.” Pick up the special bag (looks like big clear Santa clause sack, lol) from your post office & ask them about the shipping rules for it. There’s an 11lb minimum & general max of 66lb max. Main thing I learned the hard way is books inside the bag have to be in “packages” of 5lb & smaller & each be individually labeled with sending & return address. I wrap them in bubble wrap packages as they are easier than small boxes. Its not super cheap, but cheaper than other international options. Prices vary depending on country, have to dig deep online to find the pricing.

      Reply  
  29. Linda Morgan

    If I want to ship 4 books in the same package and the weight is 4 lbs, how much will that cost using media mail?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Linda – under current Media Mail rates (2021), a 4 lb package will cost you $4.57.

      Reply  
  30. Michaela

    I’d like to mail books that I donate to a church in another state. What’s the cheapest and at the same time reliable way to ship? Thanks

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Michaela – the cheapest way is definitely Media Mail! It’s the cheapest way to ship books hands down, and comes with full tracking. If your recipients aren’t in a rush to get them, it’s totally fine – delivery usually takes between 2-8 days, but the price of shipping more than makes up for this. You can read more about it in this article that you commented on.

      Reply  
  31. Joy

    I want to mail 2 music CD’s together in one padded envelope (no advertising). Does USPS sell a padded envelope that will hold both CD’s, in jewel cases, that can be used to ship them as Media Mail?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Joy, USPS doesn’t offer any padded envelopes that you can use for Media Mail. You’ll need to provide your own packaging for this! If you’re looking for some, the ULINE website has a lot of options here: https://www.uline.com/Grp_31/Padded-Mailers

      Reply  
      • Ruby

        I would like to send 3 boxes of medical books to a program in the Philippines. If each box weighs approximately 30 pounds, what is the cost to mail these media rate out of the country?

        Reply  
        • Rockwell Sands

          Hi Ruby, I’m sorry, but Media Mail is only a domestic service. If you want to ship these medical books to the Philippines, you’ll need to use another international service like Priority Mail International!

          Reply  
  32. Daniel Cada

    Do old post ccards qualify for media rate?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Daniel,

      Are you sending them in a bundle? I don’t think these would qualify, since USPS requires postcards to be sent via First-Class Mail…but to be honest I’m not 100% sure! If I were you I might go to your local Post Office and ask the postmaster if they’ll allow it. Media Mail is the same rate at the Post Office as it is online anyway, so you won’t be out any extra money.

      Reply  
  33. Paul J O'Connell

    Can you ship cds/dvds in nylon binders?

    Reply  
  34. Paul J O'Connell

    I have CDs and DVDs in Nylon CD/DVD Binders .Am I able to pack the CD/DVDs in a box with the binders or will I have to remove them from the binders. I ask because the binders would take up more space and add some weight.

    Thank You

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Paul,

      This is a great question. The biggest thing that USPS doesn’t allow for Media Mail is anything that contains advertising. So, as long as your binders don’t have any branding or sort of advertising on them, I think you’re probably ok here! I would be safe and ask your local Post Office though before you send them out, if you’re ok with waiting in line. Media Mail costs the same at the Post Office as it does online with any shipping software, so the only thing you’ll lose is time and you’ll gain some peace of mind.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply  
      • Paul J O'Connell

        Thanks for the reply

        Reply  
  35. john demshar

    Is there special packaging that I need to pick up at the post office for media mail? Or do I just wrap package myself. When mailing do I need to let the post office clerk know that it is media mail?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      There isn’t special packaging available, but you have to provide your own. It can either be generic (brown or white) packaging, or you ca use your own custom boxes or envelopes. If you buy the label at the Post Office, yes – just let them know it’s a Media Mail shipment and they’ll probably inspect the contents to make sure it qualifies!

      Reply  
      • Pamela Williams

        I have two separate sets of books to send. One set weighs 2lbs 50 oz and the other weighs 2lbs 5 oz. How much is it to ship these

        Reply  
        • Rockwell Sands

          Pamela – assuming the 2 lbs 50 ounce package you’re referring to comes out to a total of 6 lbs for the Media Mail rate, that package will cost $5.69 to send. The other 2 lb 5 ounce package comes out to 3 lbs at the Media Mail rate, and will cost $4.01 (these prices are the 2021 rates).

          Reply  
  36. Ernie Paris

    I was charged $4.67 instead of the $2.80 charge set for one pound or less to send a 45 record in a 7in x 7in x .05 box weighing less than a pound using the media mail option at a postal annex. The workers at the annex told me that the media rate prices changes when sipping to different zip codes. I do not think that is correct but the annex refuses to change their view on this subject.

    Reply  
    • Stevie

      Thanks, Ernie. Sounds highly bogus, all right. I’ll let you know how things go here using Orangemailer.

      Reply  
  37. Stevie

    For shipping a single CD in a bubble-wrap squarish envelope via media Mail, can I just slap on $2.80 in stamps and drop in a mailbox, or does my local post office need to label it “Media Mail” in some way? Or should I indicate that on the envelope myself? Thanks, Rockwell!

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Stevie, unfortunately that won’t work! You’ll need to specifically buy Media Mail postage for this particular package. You can access Media Mail through pretty much any shipping software platform though!

      Reply  
  38. andrew

    if i sent a record and a small thing of rolling papers media mail will it work? or will it be sent back? how would they be able to tell?

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Andrew, that’s tough to answer. Generally speaking, USPS doesn’t want you to include anything else in a Media Mail shipment other than what qualifies…so the rolling papers would be excluded here. When you ship Media Mail, USPS reserves the right to inspect it and could require you to send your items Priority Mail if the entire shipment doesn’t qualify. Better to be safe than sorry!

      Reply  
  39. 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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