A Few of My Favorite Things
If you are not also a bindery, you better make friends with one. A good bookbinder can make the difference between a book that looks like it really belongs in the town dump and one which can take its place proudly in a collector's cabinet. I lust after the bookbinder's skills, but do not have them; fortunately, on Cape Cod we have Talin Bookbindery (www.talinbookbindery.com). Jim and Pam, a brother-and-sister partnership, do incredible work and create their own marble papers, which they sell to other binderies (these marble papers are works of art suitable for framing.) What I really like about working with them is they have great pleasure in their craft; this is not the kind of place you just drop your stuff off at, although I suppose, you could. Plan on spending some time to discuss your project and ask questions. They are very generous in sharing their knowledge.
The United States Post Office is my other favorite thing. Shipping costs can make or break booksellers. In an ideal world I would like to use UPS or FedEx for their reliability and door-to-door tracking, but for our mid-range business the costs are too prohibitive for all but the high-end sales. The USPS offers a few products which I have found outstanding:
The Priority Mail Flat-Rate Envelope.
The Priority Mail Flat-Rate Box.
The Global Priority Mail Flat-Rate Envelope.
You have to really love the flat-rate series, particularly the book-sized products: the Priority Mail flat-rate envelope, the new and very exciting Priority Mail flat-rate box, and their international cousin, the Global Priority mail flat-rate envelope. While the two envelopes provide virtually zero protection to books on their own, we've found that they successfully transport paper and bubble-wrapped books (sometimes even with cardboard inserted for extra support). At $3.85 and $7.70, respectively, with no weight limit for the Priority Mail products within the United States, they enable us to provide better service and even shave a few dollars from our costs. We always use Global Priority mail, unless the shipment exceeds 4 lbs. As a small publisher we manufacture our books so that, if possible, they will slip seamlessly into these envelopes.
For larger international shipments we use the little-known USPS m-bag service (look for Volume Discount Mail at www.usps.com). This service, begun in post-World War II, was designed to ship large amounts of books in a discrete, personally tagged mailbag, which still pleasantly surprises our overseas customers. At $9.90 for 11 lbs. to the U.K., and up to 66 lbs. per bag, it is one of the true shipping bargains.