Rare Book Monthly

Articles - July - 2008 Issue

Shipping Globally Revisited

Fedex

Fedex is well prepared for shipping overseas.


By Renée Magriel Roberts

Over the last few years we have been steadily increasing our capacity to handle overseas sales. In an increasingly global marketplace, this seemed not only prudent, but also absolutely necessary.

I've dealt with many of the challenges we have faced in previous columns on global trading, currency conversion, and insurance. After now having had some experience with developing shipping alternatives, this is the topic on which I'd like to focus.

Like many other booksellers, we began by using the obvious: the United States Postal Service. While the USPS had a surface mail alternative (remember the m-bag?), there was an economical way to ship heavier parcels. However, with the demise of surface mail services, we were forced to seek out other sources, and this has proved to be advantageous, if somewhat frustrating.

We began by signing up with UPS, and I wrote an entire column on their services. While the domestic Mail Innovation service has value, it took about a year for UPS to contact me after my initial contact - that is over a year! Awful service, so I sought a different source.

Our objective was to find a reliable overseas shipper that could save us money over USPS prices, while offering comparable priority service as well as a still lower cost "standard" air mail service that took a bit longer. We settled on FedEx International services.

The effectiveness of sales from shippers largely depends upon where you are located. While UPS took over a year to sign us up from first contact, just about the next day two FedEx sales executives came to our door. They had two tiers of prices based upon the length of time to delivery (5-10 days, 10-15 days), both below the USPS. Plus, they offered free shipping from our shop via FedEx Express to their Newark sorting facility. From there the parcels fly to their respective countries and are put into the local mail system.

To prepare a FedEx package, we have to apply a full address and return address, as well as a customs slip. Packages are put together in a FedEx-supplied waterproof mailer with an outside manifest. We put internal shipping references on each manifest so that we can track which of our orders went into each package, so there is a bit more work involved on the packaging side. They charge for fractions of a pound, so there are savings not only in the basic rates, but also savings because they do not round up.

While the prices are good, perhaps the only disadvantage we can see is that FedEx billing is hard to match against specific packages. Unlike a lot of FedEx web services it is not particularly user-friendly.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Francis Scott Key, <i>Star Spangled Banner,</i> first printing, c. 1814-16. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> William Sydney Porter, a.k.a. “O. Henry,” archive of drawings made to illustrate a lost mining memoir, c. 1883-84. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> [Bay Psalm Book], printed for Hezekiah Usher of Boston, Cambridge, c. 1648-65. $50,000 to $75,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Noticia estraordinario,</i> probable first announcement in Mexico City of the fall of the Alamo, 1836. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Patrick Gass, first edition of earliest first-hand account of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, Pittsburgh, 1807. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Diploma from the Princeton Class of 1783, commencement attended by Washington & Continental Congress. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>Sprague Light Cavalry!</i> color-printed broadside, NY, 1863. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> <i>The Lincoln & Johnson Union Campaign Songster,</i> Philadelphia, 1864. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Lucy Parsons, labor organizer, albumen cabinet card, New York, 1886. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Daniel L.F. Swift, journal as third mate on a Pacific Whaling voyage, 1848-1850. $3,000 to $4,0000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 10:</b> Two photos of Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon, silver prints, 1901. $1,500 to $2,500.

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