The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I miss the boat

A customer just balked at the exact shipping cost I quoted for oversize, 3 1/2 pound book to Australia. I can't blame him since it was a fair amount more than the cost of the book. I think the new shipping rates are going to do some harm to the international used/rare book trade.

Standard hardcover (and smaller) books didn't take much of a hit as they fit in a priority, flat rate envelope and the price only went up about $1.50 (Europe/Asia). But for oversize books the options have narrowed considerably. Surface rate (colloquially known as "slow boat") is gone and even M-Bags (which the USPS site is cagey about quoting anyway) now only travel by air. I was hoping the flat rate "Shirt box" option would encourage multi-book international orders but $37 (Europe/Asia), for maybe 3-4 books, isn't enough of a bargain to encourage casual shopping.

Has anyone found better solutions? It would be wonderful if the rare book trade had shipping agents in each major country who could collect/receive M-Bags then reship the packages via the local "media mail" equivalent. But that would require a whole lot of trust from buyers and sellers and lord knows I wouldn't want to be one of those agents.

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