Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 International Postage Price Hike

The United States Postal Service is raising its rates again.  Express mail, priority mail, parcel post, media mail, and international mail rates are all going up.  Most of the increases are around 3% to 6%.  The international rate increases are much higher.  On January 27, Priority Mail International will increase by 15.1%.  First Class International will increase by a staggering 58.3%.

The last time the international rates increased, USPS kept the First Class International (FCI) rates at decent levels but made the Priority Mail International (PMI) rates extremely expensive.  I came up with a strategy of splitting multiple book purchases into multiple packages in order to avoid the prohibitive PMI rates.  This prevented a few international buyers from abandoning their orders.

The upcoming increase to the FCI rates will likely discourage most all of my remaining international buyers from making future purchases.  FCI to Canada will increase from $5.75 to $10.55 for a package containing one book. The same package will increase from $11.60 to $16.25 to Australia and New Zealand.  A package weighing four pounds to Canada will increase from $15.95 to $27.35.  The same package to Australia and New Zealand will increase from $30.44 to $39.65.

I use the priority mail flat rate boxes to save on international postage costs for heavier packages. That is, I used to use them for heavier international packages.  Ever since last year's price increase, international buyers have avoided heavy packages.  Beginning January 27, the medium flat rate box to Canada will increase from $32.95 to $40.95. To Australia and New Zealand, the same package will increase from $47.95 to $59.95.

For at least the last year, I have made it a standard practice to absorb some of the cost of international postage in hopes of salvaging transactions.  That practice works only part of the time.  I will continue to absorb some of the cost, but even if I pay some of the cost, the rates will be still too high for most buyers. 

The only strategy I have left is to encourage buyers to save up their purchases so that we can fill up a medium priority mail flat rate box. Around four to five years ago, I had a regular buyer from Germany.  She would let me know which books she needed, and I would let her know as I acquired them.  We would wait until we had enough books to fill up a box, and then we would proceed with the transaction.  The postage for the flat rate boxes is high, but the savings is huge when compared to sending the books in separate packages.

Let's consider how many books will fit in a medium flat rate box.

With the books flush against the top and bottom of the box, as many as 15 Grosset and Dunlap picture cover editions will fit in the box.  I prefer to leave room between books and the sides of boxes, but I make exceptions for these packages.  The postage savings is enough that the risk is worth it, in my opinion.  Of course, what you see above is staged and not a package that would be mailed.  I always wrap books in stretch wrap and fill empty spaces with paper.

The above package would weigh about 10 pounds.  The flat rate box would cost $40.95 to Canada and $59.95 to Australia and New Zealand.  The regular priority mail rate without a flat rate box would be $49.40 to Canada and $78.30 to Australia and New Zealand.  So, the flat rate box does save in postage for the same weight sent in a regular box.  But consider the savings over purchasing the books in individual transactions spaced over a number of months.

If the books were mailed in 15 separate packages to Canada, the total cost would be $158.25.  If the books were mailed in 15 separate packages to Australia or New Zealand, the total cost would be $243.75.  By grouping multiple purchases into one transaction and mailing in one flat rate box, the buyer can save a huge amount in postage costs.

If an international buyer can afford to buy a bunch of books at once, then this would be a way to keep the postage cost at a reasonable amount per book.  The drawback is that the buyer would have to have enough money saved in order to complete the transaction.  Most buyers do not want to do that, but if any are open to the idea, then I am willing to help.  Also keep in mind that I will cover at least some of the postage cost. 


Rhodie Wallace said...

What happened to the fourth book in the Arden Blake series, "The Hermit of Pirate Light", that is mentioned at the end of the third volume?

Jennifer said...

It was never published. The Burt company was probably sold before it could be published. It's too bad, because I would have liked to have read it!