What's the cheapest way to ship a book from the US to Japan?
April 24, 2012 3:29 AM   Subscribe

What's the cheapest way to send a single normal-sized book weighing about a pound from the US to Japan?

I'm trying to help an academic society at a US college figure out how to get a book (that they publish) to where I live in Japan. Bookselling isn't a big part of what they do and apparently they don't often send things overseas. They checked US Post and got an estimated cost of about $40; I checked UPS and got about the same. (I haven't checked FedEx because their rates calculator doesn't let you select different origin and destination countries without bouncing you to their global "choose a country" splash site.)

These prices strike me as wildly extravagant. Is there a better way that I'm just not seeing? Or are cheaper rates only available to big companies and/or people mailing things in bulk? I don't need tracking or super-expedited delivery or anything fancy like that.
posted by No-sword to Shopping (5 answers total)
Best answer: If it would fit into one of the flat rate USPS boxes you might be able to go that route. It says it's $16.95 for a 9-1/4" x 6-1/4" x 2" box, not sure if your "normal-sized book" would fit in there. You do have to use their specific box.

I can tell you that FedEx is going to be about the same as UPS, if not more.

I'm not sure if this link will work but if it does, that's where I got that rate from. (You have to click on "priority mail international" to see it). Full disclosure: I have never used USPS for international shipping so I can't say how reliable it is.
posted by Arethusa at 4:14 AM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: The academic society I work for typically ships single issues of our journal--which weigh about a pound, give or take--USPS First Class International or First Class International Parcel. Price varies by country, but is typically under $20.

Priority Mail flat rate boxes are sometimes less, but usually not big enough for our journal; if your book is shorter and thicker than our journal, it might fit.

The Postal Service website is a disaster since they redesigned it this winter, but the shipping price calculator is here: http://ircalc.usps.com/MailServices.aspx?country=10214&m=2&p=1&o=1
'country=10214' is Japan
'p=1&o=1' is weight 1lb 1oz
'm=2' is "large envelope"; 'm=6' for "parcel".

a 1lb 1oz 'package' is $12 if a "large envelope" or $13 if a "parcel".
posted by FlyingMonkey at 5:06 AM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: I don't know where you're getting the $40 from. I went to the USPS website, and calculated the price for a 1 pound 4oz package (to account for the weight of the packaging materials). Sending it first class will cost approximately $13.

Note that when you use the postage calculator they show you the expensive options and you have to click to expand the cheaper options; perhaps that was the problem?
posted by insectosaurus at 7:19 AM on April 24, 2012

Best answer: Priority flat rate envelope. As long as it's under 4 lbs and fits in the envelope (a little bulky is ok), it'll cost about $17.
Only downside is no tracking number.
posted by luckynerd at 10:23 AM on April 24, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! These were all helpful. (Apparently I was fooled by the hidden cheaper options.)
posted by No-sword at 1:44 PM on April 24, 2012

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