Media Mail Shipping Rates for 2023
USPS Media Mail® is the preferred way to ship books, records, and movies. There are some exceptions to what can be shipped with Media Mail. However, we will get into that later. It’s a good thing that shipping Media Mail is affordable because the contents within can be fragile and need extra care and packaging materials to make final delivery without damage. Unlike other USPS package services, Media Mail does not charge based on the destination zone. So it is simple to understand the pricing. There may be times, though, that you want to use another service in its place. Again, we will go over this later.
What is Media Mail?
While weight and dimensions play into USPS Media Mail prices, zones do not. Regardless of the distance a book, a CD, or a record travels within the US, it will not have a higher price. Additionally, the USPS started Media Mail in 1938 with the name “Book Mail.” It was used as a way to incentivize the spread of educational materials across the country. This still stands true. This is why any bound materials greater than 8 pages, books, DVDs, CDs, Film, Cassettes, or vinyl recordings can be included. However, bound materials that contain advertisements are not allowed. As such: Do not use Media Mail to ship magazines, comic books, or newspapers, as these contain advertisements.
2023 Media Mail Rates
Is Media Mail slower than other USPS services?
USPS Media Mail takes 2–10 days to arrive at its final destination as opposed to 1–3 days for Priority Mail or 2–7 days for First Class Mail. A major reason that it takes longer is that, unlike other USPS services, Media Mail parcels can be opened to check for approved contents without a search warrant. This is how they determine if the contents contain advertisements, or disallowed content other than media. If this happens, you will likely face a returned parcel or a price adjustment on your USPS account balance, or the customer may be tasked with paying a fee upon delivery.
Is Media Mail Best for All Approved Media?
Media Mail doesn’t come with default coverage. This means that if the contents of a parcel are damaged during transit, inspection, or delivery, the USPS waives responsibility. However, there are ways to add coverage for your parcels. For instance, you can still buy additional coverage from the USPS or a third-party insurance provider like Shipsurance through shipping platforms like ShipStation. Apart from insurance, there are other reasons to use a service other than Media Mail. It can also be far slower than other services. So depending on what you’re sending, you may want to use something more ‘premium.’
When to Use USPS First Class or Priority Mail Instead of Media Mail
You may be sending comic books, newspapers, or magazines. And these are not allowed with Media Mail. Additionally, when you ship books, movies, or music that need to be delivered quickly, Media Mail may take too long. This is when it may be good to use Priority Mail or First Class Mail. First Class Mail takes 2–5 days to reach its destination. However, First Class Mail is only available for shipments weighing under 1 lb. If you want the next quickest option or you are shipping a couple of records in a single mailer, you should consider Priority Mail. It usually only takes 1–3 days to arrive and comes with $50 of coverage—unlike First Class and Media Mail which come with no coverage.
When to Ship with UPS or FedEx Instead of USPS Media Mail
There are times when you won’t want to use Media Mail. For instance, rare materials or a textbook that a student needs RIGHT NOW may need to be sent with a more express service. If you are shipping multiple books at once, it may become heavy. So if someone wants to opt for something quicker, like next-day or two-day shipping, FedEx and UPS offer much better day-definite express shipping services than USPS. Additionally, these services tend to be more affordable for heavy parcels (weighing over 4 or 5 lbs) than USPS services. This is especially true for long-distance deliveries. If you’re shipping to a different part of the country, FedEx and UPS really come into play. Additionally, FedEx and UPS include coverage for parcels valued at $100 instead of Priority Mail’s $50 coverage.
Shipping Media Mail with ShipStation
Automate Your Shipping
ShipStation makes shipping media simpler. Say you want to use Media Mail for certain items, but not for others. You can use automated processes to instantly apply the best shipping services to ALL of your orders. This helps ensure that you only send approved media out. It also greatly simplifies fulfillment and reduces your clicks—which is good news since packing media can be time-consuming! You can even automatically add packaging weight to your parcels based solely on what is in an order.
Access Shipping Discounts
While Media Mail rates are the same regardless of if you are a merchant or shipping a cookbook to your grandma, ShipStation gives you shipping discounts on many other great USPS services, UPS, and even international discounts with DHL. Best of all, these discounts through the ShipStation Carrier Services are available to all ShipStation sellers. You just have to sign up for a 30-Day ShipStation trial to start saving!