Littera Scripta

How to Ship Books


Make sure that you pack carefully. This is really important, and I've written a separate article on the subject.

Buy a Good Scale

Just think how much time you'll save. It makes it easy and painless to quote prices to your international customers.


There are good couriers in most countries - UPS and FedEx in the US, Purolator and Canpar in Canada, etc. However, the post office is always the most economical way to ship. They are more reliable and faster than most people think. I've shipped thousands of parcels around the world, and have had one go missing (to England).

When shipping internationally be careful about brokerage fees. Couriers often charge brokerage fees on international shipments that are fairly substantial - you should probably only use them for domestic shipments unless you thoroughly understand their policies.


While many booksellers charge extra for insurance, the fact is that so long as you are shipping via your normal carrier (whether it be post office or courier) you are responsible for the safe delivery of the order. In other words, if a book gets lost in transit, and the customer declined to pay for insurance, you are still responsible no matter what your terms say. On the other hand, should the customer choose some other less usual method (My cousin Bob will pick it up next week when he passes through on vacation) then you are only responsible up to the point that you transfer to the carrier.

Insurance is not for the benefit of the customer, it's for the benefit of the bookseller. Thus you must decide for yourself when to insure, and when not to. If you choose not to, you are essentially self-insuring. Either way, it's a hidden cost that you need to take into account. My own policy is to insure orders of over $50/$100 or thereabouts (depends on how sanguine I am feeling that day).


Learn how your post office works. Get familiar with their website, and understand which rates will apply to books and which won't. Often the clerks don't really understand the regulations, so you will need to learn them yourself. And by all means be nice to the clerks. You need them on your side.

Canada Post - Domestic Rates
Canada Post - Rates to the US
Canada Post - International Rates

US Postal Service - Domestic Rates
US Postal Service - International Rates

Royal Mail (UK) - Domestic and International Rates

New Zealand Post - Domestic Rates
New Zealand Post - International Rates

Australia Post - Domestic Rates
Australia Post - International Rates

I chose these particular rate calculators to list not because they are the most important, but because they are in english, and I can be sure I have the correct page for the calculator. If any of you would care to give me links to other post office calculators, I'll be happy to list them. A much more comprehensive list is available from Postage Rates Worldwide


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Copyright © 2000 by Deanna Ramsay