How Much Will It Cost to Ship Your Book?
If you are printing a book that you will need to ship to individuals, Amazon, or other sales channels, you’ll need to figure out much shipping costs are before you price your book, or trips to the post office might eat up all of your profit. Fortunately for authors and publishers, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is your best friend in saving you a lot of money on shipping. Since the beginning of the Post Office and the Postal Act of 1792, Congress has created preferred rates for different types of postage, such as newspapers and periodicals, that are deemed to have a social benefit. In the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt created a shipping rate for all books now known as Media Mail. Following are a few simple steps for estimating shipping costs for your book.
1) Figure out how much your book will weigh.
Find another book similar in size to your book and weigh it. You can take it into a post office if you don’t have a scale that measures ounces. The standard media rate for anything under a pound is $2.66, so shipping just one book is always going to be expensive. You’ll want to figure how many books you need to ship to get the cost-per-book down to something reasonable.
2) Head on over to the USPS Postage Price Calculator.
Click here to open the postage calculator in a new tab. Enter your zip code and the zip code you’ll be shipping to. You can actually choose any zip code you want. Media rates don’t vary by distance. Click on Calculate price based on Shape and Size.
3) Enter the weight and click on Package
4) Scroll down to the bottom of the options and look at the rate for media mail.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that it takes seven days to ship via media mail. This timeframe works for Amazon Advantage orders, but might not be acceptable elsewhere. If you need more expedited shipping, you’ll want to look at the costs of flat rate shipping or perhaps other carriers.
5) Figure Out A Likely Cost-per-Book Rate
Enter weights for shipping one book, three books, ten books, and on and on to get a sense of how many books you need to ship to get the cost-per-book down to a reasonable rate. You’ll then need to estimate demand for your book. If you think you’ll only sell a few books a week, you’ll probably want to look at an on-demand printing solution. Here’s a look at my shipping costs per book for various quantities of books Amazon might order at one time. Rows in blue indicate actually quantities I’ve shipped to Amazon.
# of Books
After an initial order for seven books, I’ve never had another small order and my overall shipping average is $0.26 per book. Keep in mind that the weight of the box and packaging materials will add to the weight and cost of the overall package. You will also need to budget for the cost of packaging material. I learned quickly to buy everything in bulk, including this giant roll of bubble wrap which still cracks me up.
Because of how much profit is built into my book, I would still make money even if I had to ship a few books at a time, but frankly it wouldn’t be worth the time and effort it would take me to make all of those little shipments. I really hate going to the post office and standing in line, so I subscribe to Stamps.com and print all of my postage at home. A monthly subscription is $15 and they send you a free scale. I discovered if you try to cancel your account after a few months, they’ll lower the prices to $9.95 a month, and that is totally worth it to me even if I’m only making occasional large shipments. I’d love to learn more about other people’s experience with the cost of shipping books and whether or not it was worth it.