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USPS Book Shipping

usps book shipping

The United States Postal Service (USPS) provides a variety of shipping options to meet the needs of its customers. One of the most popular options for shipping books is “Media Mail.” 

As the name implies, this shipping method is specifically designed for the shipment of media. So, I decided to take an in-depth look at the USPS book shipping service, Media Mail, and how it can be used to ship your books.

How Does Media Mail Work?

Media Mail is a ground shipping service, meaning that it takes longer to reach its destination compared to expedited services such as Priority Mail or Express Mail. However, the trade-off is that it is significantly less expensive. 

Great! How does it work?

To ship books via Media Mail, you must package your items securely in a sturdy box or envelope. It is also advised that each book be individually wrapped in bubble wrap or other protective material to prevent damage during transit. 

In addition, USPS recommends that you label your packages as “Media Mail” to ensure that you receive the correct service and pricing.

What Items Can Be Shipped Using Media Mail?

The following items can all be shipped using Media Mail:

  • Books: hardcover, softcover, textbooks, bound volumes of periodicals
  • Sound recordings: CDs, LP records, computer-readable media (e.g., flash drives with audiobooks on them)
  • Video recordings: DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, VHS tapes.
  • Printed music: sheet music, printed music books
  • Play scripts: theater, film, or television
  • Test materials: standardized tests, answer sheets
  • Medical loose-leaf pages and binders: medical reference materials
  • Film in strips or reels

Note: The above items must be used for educational and/or cultural purposes and should not contain advertising. Books sent via Media Mail must also contain at least eight pages.

What Items Can Be Shipped Using Media Mail

Benefits of Shipping Books via Media Mail


One of the main benefits of Media Mail is its low cost. This makes it an attractive option for individuals and businesses looking to ship large quantities of books.

Reliable Delivery

The USPS has a strong and reliable system for getting packages to their destinations, and Media Mail is no different. 

Packages shipped via Media Mail are typically delivered within two to eight business days. This makes it a good choice for people who need their books shipped in a reasonable amount of time.


You can drop off your packages at any USPS location, such as a post office, an authorized shipping center, or a collection box. This makes shipping books with Media Mail remarkably easy. 

You can also schedule a pickup from your home or office, making it a truly hassle-free process.


Tracking Information 

The USPS provides tracking information for all packages shipped via Media Mail, allowing you to monitor the status of your book shipment from the time it is picked up until it is delivered. 

This helps to ensure that packages are not lost or damaged during transit.

Limitations of Shipping Books via Media Mail

Slower Delivery Time

As mentioned earlier, Media mail is a ground service which means it takes longer to get to its destination. This may not be ideal if you need your books delivered quickly.

Limited to Media Items 

Media Mail is limited to the shipment of books and other media items and cannot be used to ship non-media items such as clothing, electronics, or food. 

In fact, if you attempt to ship non-media items via Media Mail, you may have the packages returned or be subject to additional fees.

Size Restrictions 

There are size restrictions for packages shipped via Media Mail. Packages cannot be more than 108 inches in total length and girth combined, and cannot weigh more than 70 pounds. 

This may be a problem if you need to ship substantially large quantities of books or other media items that exceed these size restrictions.

No Insurance Coverage 

Unlike some shipping options, USPS does not include insurance coverage in the shipping cost.

This means that if you want to protect your packages against loss or damage during transit, you will need to purchase insurance separately. It can add to the overall cost and may not be practical if you are looking to keep book shipping costs to a minimum.

Alternatives to Media Mail

If the limitations of Media Mail do not meet your shipping needs, there are other shipping options available through USPS that may be a better fit. 

Some of the most popular USPS book shipping alternatives include:

Priority Mail 

Priority Mail is a faster shipping option compared to Media Mail, with delivery times of one to three business days. It is slightly more expensive, but it also offers insurance coverage up to $50.

Priority Mail 

Priority Mail Express 

Priority Mail Express is the fastest shipping option available through USPS, with delivery times of one to two business days. It is the most expensive option, but it offers insurance coverage up to $100 and includes guaranteed delivery by a certain time.

First-Class Package Service 

First-Class Package Service is a cost-effective option for shipping smaller packages weighing up to 13 ounces. It has delivery times similar to those of Media Mail, but it offers insurance coverage up to $100.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Media Mail packages be shipped internationally?

No, Media Mail is a domestic shipping service and cannot be used to ship packages internationally. If you need to ship media packages internationally, you will need to use USPS’s international shipping service or another shipping provider.

Can Media Mail packages be sent to PO boxes?

Yes, Media Mail packages can be sent to PO boxes.

Can Media Mail packages be sent to PO boxes

Can Media Mail packages be shipped to APO/FPO addresses?

Yes, Media Mail packages can be shipped to APO/FPO addresses, which are military addresses for U.S. military personnel stationed overseas. The USPS ships to the APO/DPO station in the US, and the station will handle the rest of the delivery.

Is there a limit to the number of books that can be shipped in a single Media Mail package?

Yes, there is. If you keep in mind the size and weight restrictions for Media Mail packages, it will be easier for you to determine how many books can be shipped in a single package.

Is it possible to request a specific delivery date for Media Mail packages?

No. The delivery time is advertised by USPS as ranging from two to eight business days, but the exact delivery date cannot be guaranteed.

Can Media Mail packages include any kind of media, or are there restrictions?

There are restrictions for the types of media that can be shipped via Media Mail. The items must be educational in nature, such as books, CDs, DVDs, and other types of media that are primarily educational, instructional, or for reference. Porn, advertorials, and other items that are primarily considered to be entertainment may not be eligible for Media Mail.

Can Media Mail be combined with other shipping options, such as Priority Mail or Express Mail?

No. If you need to ship items using multiple shipping options, you will need to ship the items in separate packages.

What happens if a Media Mail package is delayed or lost during transit?

If it is delayed or lost, you should contact USPS Customer Service to report the issue and initiate a claim. The USPS will investigate the issue and take the necessary steps to resolve it.

Is it possible to change the address of a Media Mail package after it has been shipped?

No, this is not possible. However, if the item is still at the original post office, you may be able to retrieve it and change the address. There may be additional fees for providing this service.

Can Media Mail be used for shipping oversized items, such as large textbooks or encyclopedia sets?

If the items are larger than the maximum dimensions allowed for Media Mail, they will need to be shipped using a different shipping option.

Want Your Precious Books Insured Before Shipping?

Then you might want to take a look at our comprehensive USPS Priority Mail vs. First Class comparison. In fact, we can help you with any shipping questions you may have in 2023!

You may wish to know, Can I Drop a Package in a USPS MailboxDoes USPS Notarize DocumentsDoes USPS Deliver On SundayDoes USPS Deliver At Night, or How To Cancel A USPS Mail Hold?

Confused by USPS’s terminology? Don’t stress; we’ve got you! We can help you with everything from What Does Shipping Label Created USPS Awaiting Item Mean, What is USPS Informed DeliveryWhat Does Available for Pickup Mean USPS, and What Does Missent Mean USPS The Ultimate Guide!

Ok, back to today’s topic…

Final Thoughts

USPS Media Mail is a cost-effective option for shipping books and other media items. It has reliable delivery times and options for tracking, so many people, businesses, and libraries choose it. But it also has some downsides, such as slow delivery times, size limits, and no automatic insurance or international shipping option.

However, if Media Mail’s limits don’t work for you, USPS offers several other shipping options, such as Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, and First-Class Package Service. Considering the pros and cons of each option will help you choose the best shipping method that covers all your needs.

Happy book shipping!

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