Media Mail – Media delivery made easy by USPS
Online learning still needs offline educational materials, so Media Mail is a welcome service for teachers. It lets people send media and educational materials lower than other courier services. Even better, other people can use it too!
Now, you have better shipping media such as books or manuscripts. Still, the low prices mean you will have to deal with more limitations with the service. Fortunately, I will share more details about how Media Mail works.
That’s why I will just jump right in and go through the requirements of Media Mail. This includes the parcel specifications and the usual delivery times. Later, we will discuss why this feature can charge such low prices.
What is Media Mail?
We're proud to process and deliver 154 billion pieces of mail every year. pic.twitter.com/I6QVO7Wu7H
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) August 26, 2016
This feature comes from the United States Postal Service. It says that Media Mail is “a cost-effective way to ship media and educational materials.”
The USPS is strict regarding this because it’s very specific on the things it may deliver. Here are the ones allowed on Media Mail shipping:
- Manuscripts and books – Back then, people called this service the “book rate.” Now, it has expanded to allow other forms of media. The book must have at least eight pages, and it should not be a graphic novel or a comic book.
- Video and sound recordings – Examples include records, videotapes, cassette tapes, films, CDs, and DVDs. You can’t ship computer drives, video games, and blank disks.
- Loose-leaf material – Media mail packages may contain loose-leaf binders and pages that contain educational and medical info. You can’t ship empty binders, though.
- Films – Rolls of film used to store movies. It’s placed on a projector and rotated while light shines through. This allows the images in the film to appear on the large screens at theaters. You may only send ones 16mm or narrower via Media Mail.
- Printed music – Classical music such as Bach and Beethoven first appeared on paper as sheet music. People read the notes on it so that they could play a song.
- Test materials – Before the pandemic, students had quizzes and exams on sheets of paper. Contrary to popular belief, people still need them for online learning. Some tests only work in printed form, while others have no stable internet connection for online tests.
- Computer-readable media – Some schools still save their files on CDs. Nowadays, most of them prefer using USB thumb drives. Digital drives and computer drives don’t qualify for Media Mail.
Other Media Mail rules
This service only allows packages up to 70 pounds, and it must only be 108 inches in length and width. Also, make sure your parcel doesn’t have any ads on it.
If the USPS finds any advertising, it will take the item out of Media Mail. Then, the USPS will place it on another service like Priority Mail Express.
You will end up paying more money for the “postage due” for the new service. As a result, you ended up paying more for sending a Media Mail package, making the option useless.
You should expect to receive your package within 2-8 business days. However, the USPS reminds customers that they might have to wait longer because of the COVID pandemic.
The Media Mail rates start at $3.19, but this may increase depending on the size of your parcel. You may click here to see the full price list for USPS services.
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When to use Media Mail
Imagine you’re a teacher, and you’re conducting an online class. Maybe you’d need some materials on formats most people don’t use anymore.
These could be photos of events someone hasn’t uploaded to the internet yet. It could be an old song that’s hard to find on websites or hidden behind a paywall.
Maybe you need to show students items from the past that are still here. You could show an image, but letting them see the real thing is more effective.
If not, maybe you’re a business owner, and you just moved to a new office. Then, you remember that the old building contains a video or sound clip for training new applicants.
Media Mail can be an affordable way to send the recording to your new office. Meanwhile, you have enough time to find a freelancer who can transcribe those clips.
These are just a few examples of how Media Mail can benefit people. This could be a cheap way for you to send media as well. Note that the affordable prices come at another cost.
Why Media Mail is affordable
USPS Media Mail, which we use for most shipping, is amazing. It's just $2.99, and it gets a book anywhere in the US.
What would a stranger on the street say if you said, "I'll give you three bucks to take this book from Kansas to California by Friday or else?"
— Raven Book Store (@ravenbookstore) April 29, 2020
When the price of a certain item or service goes down, there’s usually a catch. Maybe it’s a limited-time offer, or it may only work for certain credit cardholders.
You can apply the same principle for Media Mail. You don’t have to pay as much compared to other services. However, here are the reasons for that lower cost:
- This service charges you for the size and weight of your parcel. Other USPS options like First Class Mail cost you based on the number and type of zones it goes through. This may not be the best choice if you send bulky items like films or binders.
- The average wait time is two to eight business days. That’s already too much time for many people, but that may take longer because of the pandemic. Expect your package to take at least a month in the worst-case scenario!
- Other features can stop at your house and deliver your outgoing parcels for free. Unlike them, Media Mail doesn’t provide free pickup.
- If you need to send something important, you may want signature confirmation for your delivery. That’s not included in Media Mail. You may have to pay for other features as well, such as shipping labels.
Media Mail is a great way to send media files and documents via courier service. It lets you pay less money for the delivery compared to other options.
Just make sure you’re willing to wait weeks or even a month for it. The low price comes at the cost of early arrival. If you need the package delivered ASAP, try other services instead.
While you’re at it, why not read more articles from Inquirer USA? They always deliver if you need to know more about recent trends and valuable tips!