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>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Eric Carle, <i>The Very Hungry Caterpillar,</i> hand-painted collage. Sold for a record $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Charles Addams, <i>Couple passing a giant bird house,</i> watercolor cartoon for <i>The New Yorker,</i> 1948. Sold for $16,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Miriam Troop, <i>Rain on Laundry Day,</i> oil on canvas, cover for <i>The Saturday Evening Post,</i> 1940. Sold for $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Rockwell Kent, <i>To All Fascists,</i> ink broadside for The League of American Writers, circa 1937. Sold for $6,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Jo Mielziner, <i>Pet Shop Drop,</i> backdrop design for <i>Pal Joey</i> on Broadway, 1940. Sold for a record $55,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Lee Brown Coye, acrylic cover illustration for the 25th anniversary of <i>Weird Tales,</i> 1944. Sold for $18,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Virgil Finlay, <i>The Outsider & Others,</i> pen & ink dust jacket illustration for H.P. Lovecraft's book, 1939. Sold for $5,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Al Hirschfeld, <i>Paul Robeson as Othello,</i> illustration for <i>The New York Times,</i> 1942. Sold for $68,750
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Illustration Art:</b> Frederic Remington, pen & ink illustration for <i>A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers</i> in <i>The Century</i> magazine, 1889. Sold for $17,500.
  • <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> EARLY AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY ARCHIVE. Chronicling 20th century aviation from the earliest Wright Brothers images through commercial and military applications. $50,000 to $70,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> FIRST TELEPHONE CALL TO THE MOON. Partial transcription signed by Apollo 11 astronauts and President Nixon. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957. Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite, Moscow, [February, 1957]. $400,000 to $600,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> Apollo 11 Beta cloth crew emblem, SIGNED BY THE ENTIRE APOLLO 11 CREW. $8,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Sep. 17:</b> GEMINI 1/8 SCALE MODEL. Rarely seen large-scale contractor's model. $3,000 to $5,000
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> SMITH, CHRISTOPHER WEBB. 1793-1871. <i>Indian Ornithology.</i> [Patna, India]: 1828. $50,000 to $80,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DUPRÉ, LOUIS. 1789-1837. <i>Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, ou Collection de portraits, vues et costumes grecs et ottomans.</i> Paris: Dondey-Dupré, 1825. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> ADAMS, JOHN. Autograph Letter Signed ("J Adams"), [to Dr. Perkins?] while recovering from his small pox inoculation, [late-April, 1764]. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUSTEN, JANE. Autograph Letter Signed ("J. Austen"), to her sister Cassandra, 4 pp, "Thursday – after dinner," [September 16, 1813,] Henrietta St. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> AUDUBON, JOHN JAMES. 1785-1851. <i>The Birds of America, from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories.</i> New York & Philadelphia: J.J. Audubon & J.B. Chevalier, 1840-1844. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> DODWELL, EDWARD. 1767-1832. <i>Views in Greece.</i> London: Rodwell and Martin, 1821. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Oct. 23:</b> JAMES, JESSE. Autograph Letter Signed ("Jesse W. James"), to Mr. Flood demanding Flood retract spurious accusations, 3 pp, June 5, 1875. $200,000 to $300,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions