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The Best Way to Ship: Books

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

White text with "The Best Way to Ship Books" indicating the post title. As well as a background of a vast, colorful book shelf.

Books come in all different shapes, sizes, and weights. Some, like collector’s items, are also more valuable. So the best way to ship books depends on what you're shipping. Whether you’re shipping just one book or multiple books will determine the cheapest service. And the most appropriate packaging will vary based on whether your book is a thin paperback, or large hardback.

Luckily for you, this guide will make shipping books of all kinds a breeze. So, if you’re an online book seller or self-published author, you can be sure that you're sending your books out in the right way. And saving money on shipping costs!


How Much Does it Cost to Ship Books?

Stack of books with yellow background ready to ship. Book title is Beautiful Resistance by Jon Tyson and has a yellow background with a white marble effect.

Like all packages, the cost of shipping books depends on a few factors. The weight, size, and distance traveled will all impact cost. It’s quite cheap to ship single books through services like USPS MediaMail. However, rates climb when you’re shipping multiple books in heavy boxes due to weight and package size.

That being said, if you are shipping heavy boxes of books, you can save on shipping costs with platforms like Users on can access up to 78% off UPS Ground and 84% off USPS Retail services. These discounts saved shippers nearly $2 million last year!

USPS MediaMail is the Cheapest and Best Service to Ship Books!

Cardboard box full of books ready to ship resting on desk. Books in background over the top of the box on a wooden shelf.

USPS Media Mail offers the best and cheapest way to ship books. With Media Mail, rates are based on weight only. And unlike other USPS services, the price won’t change depending on distance traveled. Plus, a 70lb weight limit still allows you to ship a ton of books. All in all, Media Mail is the most cost-effective option for sending single items or multiple books.

However, it’s worth noting that USPS Media Mail service is quite slow. US domestic shipments can take anywhere from 2-10 days to arrive. And if you’re shipping to Hawaii, delivery can take 2-3 weeks. That’s a lot slower than USPS First Class or Priority Mail.

To add to that, you can’t order a free home pick-up with Media Mail. This can become a problem if you’re shipping heavier boxes of books. But there’s a sneaky way to avoid this issue. All you need to do is make sure one of your packages is Priority Mail. That way, USPS will pick-up your books and you can save yourself a back-breaking trip to the post-office!

When Media Mail isn’t suitable, use other USPS services and UPS Ground as alternatives

If you want a faster service or you just want simple home pick-ups, use other USPS services as an affordable alternative. USPS rates are the best for small packages. For light, single books under 1lb, USPS First-Class is the cheapest choice. If your package is over 1lb, Priority Mail flat-rate should be your go-to.

UPS Ground also offers a cost-effective option for shipping heavy boxes of books. Especially with discounts. Plus, 90% of UPS Ground Packages are delivered in 3 days or less. So it’s great if you want to get books to your buyers quickly.

How to Pack Books for Shipping

Best way to pack single books for shipping

Single book in green wrapping and with flower being prepped for shipping.

If you’re shipping a lighter, single paperback book that’s non-fragile, use a poly mailer or bubble mailer for your packaging. For a paperback that needs a bit more protection, opt for a padded mailer. Or, use 100% recycled rigid mailers for a sturdy and eco-friendly option. The rigidity of these mailers will protect the spine and prevent damage.

On the other hand, it’s best to ship hardback or heavier books in a small shipping box or a kraft-mailer. Because of their lack of flexibility, the corners and spine of hardback books can get damaged in-transit. Especially if they’re being roughly handled.

Whether you're packing hardbacks or paperbacks, be sure to add a few rolls of tissue paper to your book and secure it with tape. This will add extra protection and prevent damage from moisture or rain.

Best way to pack and ship multiple books

3 brown cardboard boxes atop a shelf with books lying next to them.

When shipping multiple books, you’re going to need a corrugated cardboard shipping box. Corrugated boxes are durable and stand up well to knocks and rough handling. Make sure to select a size that leaves a little space but isn’t large enough to add extra $ to your shipping cost. You don’t want to be paying for air!

Of course, you need to arrange your books in a way that safeguards against damage. And stops the books from ending up in a jumbled mess inside the box. That’s not going to make a great unboxing experience for your customer.

So, lay the books on their side. This way, they won’t get bent. Do not (I repeat - DO NOT) place them vertically with the spine facing up. That’s one sure-fire way to damage your books! Then, once you’ve rested them on their side, pop kraft paper around your stacked books. This will keep them from moving while in-transit.

Do I Need to Buy Shipping Insurance?

If you’re shipping USPS Media Mail or First-Class, you will need to buy shipping insurance. But with USPS Priority Mail, insurance is included for packages with a declared value of $100 or below. This is the same for UPS Ground. However, if the package contents are over $100 in total value, you will have to purchase extra insurance.

It’s always a good idea to get insured on your packages. That way, if your package gets lost or damaged, you won’t have to bear the cost of replacing and resending your books. So, if you’re shipping books through USPS Media Mail or First-Class, be sure to buy insurance. And if your box of books exceeds $100 in value and you’re using USPS Priority Mail or UPS Ground, purchase extra insurance!

Conclusion - It’s Simple to Ship Books When You Know The Best Options!

There we have it. Really, it’s pretty simple to ship books - you just need to know the best and cheapest option for what you’re sending. Whether that’s one, thin paperback or multiple, heavy hardbacks.

Remember, USPS MediaMail will often be your cheapest way to ship books. But, when you’re looking for faster shipping that’s still affordable, go for USPS First-Class or Priority Mail flat-rate. And for shipping heavy boxes of books, UPS Ground offers a cost-effective and quick solution.

As for the best way to pack books - that will differ depending on what type of book it is and how many you’re shipping. However, by applying the advice above, you can nail book shipping for your eCommerce store.


What’s the best way to ship books in bulk?

For packages below 70lb, USPS Media Mail is a great and affordable way to ship books in bulk. UPS Priority Mail is also a cost-effective and quick option. However, if the box of books exceeds 70lbs, UPS Ground is the best choice.

How much does it cost to ship a book with USPS?

The best service to use to ship books with USPS is Media Mail. With USPS Media Mail, a 1lb book costs $3.75 to ship. The price then increases 70 cents per lb. So a box of books weighing 10lbs would cost $9.95 to ship.

Can I ship a book with UPS?

Though UPS no longer offers a book rate, you can still ship books with UPS. UPS Ground offers a competitive and quick service to ship boxes of books. And it’s especially affordable with discounts.


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