Media mail is a special postage rate for printed materials and other media, such as books, DVDs, video tapes and magazines. Media mail is a popular way for eBay users and other sellers to mail used textbooks and other items that would be expensive to ship first class or parcel post. In many cases, media mail is less costly than standard rates
- Before it was known as media mail, the rate for sending printed materials was called “book rate.” In fact, many people still refer to media mail as “book rate.” If you hear someone mention “book rate,” it can be assumed that they mean media mail.
- Media mail is much cheaper than parcel post (the method normally used for packages through the United States Postal Service). Media mail can be paid for just like any other piece of mail, by using stamps, a metered rate or dropping the item off at the post office. However, you can not use pre-canceled stamps for media mail. When you bring in an item to be shipped media mail, the post office will stamp it “media mail.” If you are mailing it from home, you should mark it clearly with the words “media mail.”
- Determining whether a piece of mail is eligible for the media mail rate depends on its format, weight and the type and amount of material it consists of.Items that can be shipped media mail include books (at least eight pages long), sound recordings, recorded videotapes, computer readable media (CDs, DVDs, diskettes) and printed music.
Items that cannot be shipped include advertising material, blank media (including blank tapes, blank video tapes, blank CD-Rs) and non-media items (including clothing, food, tools, toys, tickets and other commodities).
Media mail items can be packed in envelopes, wrapped in paper or packed in a box. Postage generally starts at a little bit over $2 and increases by the pound. Media mail must weight less than 70 pounds.
- Typically, media mail arrives in five to seven days. Depending on the distance the item is traveling, media mail can take two to nine days.
- If your item weighs less than a pound, you will likely be better off sending it first class mail. First class mail is priced by the ounce while media mail starts at one pound. Media mail becomes cheaper at around 11 or 12 ounces.You can also get discounts for presorted bulk quantities (300 or more) or by using a bar code.
- Using media mail to ship something that cannot be classified as such constitutes mail fraud and can result in fines and possible jail time.