Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2007 Issue

The United States Post Office and Politics

The m-bag is gone.


by Renée Magriel Roberts

I hope you've already heard about this, but if you have not, as of May 15, 2007, the Post Office is enacting rate and service changes that will radically alter the way in which we ship books to our customers. For years, booksellers and their customers have benefited from media mail, the surface domestic rate, and economy and/or m-bag service for international sales. This has enabled many of us to grow our businesses and reach international customers, understanding that shipping is the single largest cost (other than the extortionist fees demanded by bookselling sites ... don't get me started on that). Customers who want books, including those overseas, have been able to buy books from the United States and have them shipped at a reasonable cost.

Now the Post Office, in its wisdom, has decided that the world no longer needs surface mail. As of the 15th, packages between 1 oz. and 13 oz. will cost between $1.13 and $3.17. A typical 2 lb. book will cost a minimum of $4.60 if the flat-rate envelope is used. The Priority Mail flat rate box is going up to $9.15. If you cannot or do not wish to use the flat rate envelope, then the same first class 2-lb. book will cost from $4.60 to $7.50, depending upon the zone.

More importantly, international surface mail no longer exists, either as economy or as the m-bag. All international mail is flying. The flat rate envelope to Canada and Mexico is going up to $9.00, and to all other countries to $11.00. There will also be a flat rate box, $23.00 to Canada and Mexico and to all other countries $37.00. The real pinch will come if the book or books weigh more than 5 lbs., as the m-bag will no longer exist.

How can it possibly serve our national interest to make it difficult and overly expensive for customers in other countries to buy books??

It is pretty obvious to me that those megalisting sites who offer shipping allowances are not going to fall in line with these adjustments, so, it is left to us, if we do not want to subsidize our customer's shipping, to raise our basic prices to make the difference. Also, instead of just using the post office, as we have for many years, we are really going to have to seriously consider the alternatives, primarily FedEx Ground and UPS. As we are, as far as I know, the single largest customer at our local post office, this is going to be a financial blow to that unit, not a ticket to increased revenue.

Now coincidentally (?) about a week ago, we received a letter from UPS saying that they had lowered our shipping rates for reasons that remain unclear, as we are not heavy users. I began to wonder if there was some conspiracy behind all this (other than what I can see as being a bad business decision) - is somebody behind the scenes trying to privatize the US post office by getting it to lose money and eliminate much-needed services? Is there some Bush appointee(s) involved in these decisions? Hey, we know he isn't much of a reader.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Koller International Auctions
    Books & Autographs
    20 March 2024
    Koller, Mar. 20: DADA - Der Zeltweg. Redaktion: Flake, Serner, Tzara. Zürich, 1919. CHF 5,000 – 8,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: Jespers, Floris - Peeters, Jan. Kinderlust. Antwerpen, J. F. Bogaerts & R. R. Dodson, [1923]. CHF 2,000 – 3,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: FARBENLEHRE - Chevreul, M. E. De la Loi du contraste simultané des couleurs et de l'assortiment des objets colorés. Paris, 1839. CHF 4,000 – 5,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: BOTANIK - Schrank, Franz de Paula von. Flora Monacensis, seu plantae sponte circa Monachium nascentes. München, 1811-1818. CHF 20,000 – 30,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: French Bible manuscript. Latin manuscript on parchment. With 81 illuminated, ornamental and figurative initials. Paris, c. 1250. CHF 90,000 – 120,000
    Koller International Auctions
    Books & Autographs
    20 March 2024
    Koller, Mar. 20: Gradual for the use of a Dominican convent. Latin manuscript on parchment, with Flemish rubrics in black and red. Mecheln (?), c. 1520. CHF 25,000 – 40,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: Calendar. French manuscript on parchment. With 12 large colored thorn leaf initials on a gold background. Paris, c. 1380/1390. CHF 40,000 – 60,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: Freud, Sigmund. Collection of 23 handwritten letters to Alphonse Maeder in Zurich. In addition to 4 letter drafts from Maeder to Freud. 2 February 1910 - 21 September 1913. CHF 50,000 – 80,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: Jung, Carl Gustav. Collection of 26 autograph and 3 typescript letters and a postcard to Alphonse Maeder. 1911-1918. CHF 20,000 – 30,000
    Koller, Mar. 20: Nietzsche, Friedrich, philosopher. Handwritten letter signed to Richard Wagner. Basel, September 27, 1876. CHF 20,000 to 30,000
  • Gonnelli:
    Auction 50
    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
    Gonnelli: Vimont, Relation de ce qui s'est passé en la Nouvelle France, en l'année 1642. Starting price 5000€
    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
    Gonnelli: Poblacion, De usu astrolabi compendium.
  • Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. Text by Margaret Atwood. National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, 2019. $CA400 - 800
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: SIGNED. LAWRENCE WEINER: POSTERS. Nova Scotia College of Art, Canada,1987. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: ROBERTSON DAVIES: LEAVEN OF MALICE. SIGNED Clark, Irwin, & Co., Canada. 1954. 1st edition. CA$400 – 600
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [THE NOTABLE TRAILS LIBRARY]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: THE TRIAL OF DR. X; ROE V. WADE; THE GALILEO AFFAIR; THE TRIAL OF BERNHARD GOETZ… CA$300 – 500
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, photo-postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions