Shipping comics via USPS - confused by all the options
May 19, 2014 9:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm selling comics on ebay and have no idea what to put for shipping. Media mail seems not to allow comics, flat rate box seems good for 25+, but the padded envelopes seem like overkill for small batches, I'm just not sure what to put.

Assuming I am staying in the United States, and want the cheapest shipping that will arrive intact, how would I best want to send comics in batches of, let's say, 4, 8, 15, and 30?

Thanks in advance. I know I should be able to figure this out, but the post offices are closed, I apparently don't have an accurate scale, and I don't even have one of the padded envelopes to see how many fit in.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Intact as in readable, or as in collectible?
posted by Night_owl at 9:50 PM on May 19, 2014

None of the ones I am selling are fancy mint plastic sealed books, but they were read once and bagged and boarded, so they tend to be in pretty good shape for a casual buyer like I once was myself, I hope.

Honestly this is more about liquidation for a wedding than any fantasy I'll make any profit, so I fully expect to be selling books in batches for WAY below cover price. There's very little in my collection I expect to be a "valuable" book where I need to go overboard to be honest.

I just want to maximize my chances that they arrive as I sent them - nothing that's likely to end up folded or crushed in transit and disappoint a buyer.

I guess I just feel that if someone might be willing to pay $20 for a batch of books, I'd rather not have them bid $8 because shipping is $12, if maybe they'd have bid $15 if I had a shipping cost of $5, you know?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:59 PM on May 19, 2014

If you say it's books, they're not likely to second-guess you unless you become a regular. If you're liquidating a comics collection, I think it's pretty ethical to ship them media rate anyway. If you're running an ongoing business, then it's less so. Most likely the restriction is designed to prevent comic book distributors (wholesale and retail) from using the cheaper rate for their business.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:24 PM on May 19, 2014

The USPS postage price calculator page is your friend.

In general, if you are mailing 12 oz. or less then 1st class mail is your best bet (as long as you don't mind sending it in a manila envelope, padded envelope, or the like. This will cost $3.50 or less depending on exact weight.

More than 12 oz. your best bet is a Priority Mail 2-Day Small Flat Rate Box. This costs $5.80 regardless of what you put into it, up to 70 pounds. So you can put in a few or a lot of comic books, fill up the rest with bubble wrap or something, and it will never cost you more than $5.80. Since it is a box it won't get crushed, smashed, bent, folded, etc (at least, it is unlikely to have any of those things happen!).

You pick up a supply of the Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes at a nearby post office and so even the box doesn't cost you anything.
posted by flug at 10:24 PM on May 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, go with one of the flat-rate options if it's too heavy for first class. You can order padded and non-padded flat-rate envelopes on the website for free and they ship em lickety-split.

Please don't abuse Media Mail. I know it's a dumb rule about no comics, but it is what it is. If they do happen to inspect your package, which you allow them to do when you choose MM, your buyer may end up paying for the difference. Unhappy buyer. Plus, MM is a GREAT deal, and booksellers like myself would be very unhappy to see it go due to abuse.

I always package very well, but with comics, I get ridiculous. Comic collectors are pretty picky, I find, and I always want my buyer to be thrilled with the packaging and accuracy of my descriptions. If you end up shipping just a few in an envelope, at least slide some cardboard in there for a stiffener. Good luck!
posted by thebrokedown at 11:16 PM on May 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Find out how many comics fit into a flat rate box and quote that price for large lots.

When I listed things on eBay, I'd always have the buyer pay shipping separately. Then we communicate back and forth about what the options were.

You can say in your postings, "I will mail USPS, X books fit in a flat rate box for $14.00 and includes $50 in insurance. Buyer pays postage."

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:09 AM on May 20, 2014

Comics are absolutely not going to fit in the small flat rate box, which has roughly the dimensions of a DVD box set. The next size up is a medium box which is $12.35 (they'll knock about a buck off if you buy the postage online, such as through eBay's label generator). There are also the flat rate envelopes, but those only make sense if the stack of comics is too heavy for first class but small enough for the envelope. In many cases, regular non-flat-rate Priority Mail will be cheaper (particularly if it's not going all the way across the country) than sending the same weight and volume in a flat-rate box.
posted by payoto at 8:45 AM on May 20, 2014

Do you have a small accurate scale? This is helpful! You can do some rough estimates (I pick 90210 cause it is easy to remember and it's across the country for me)

Use the label generator through eBay or Paypal. You'll save a few bucks.

You could get these comic mailers if you wanted. If I recall correctly they were recommended on the green here.

Or you could cut down your own boxes. Bag, board. Cardboard around them. Make your shipping bulletproof.

For larger orders don't be afraid to check out UPS.

Good luck!
posted by PlutoniumX at 10:43 AM on May 20, 2014

small flat rate box

Ack, yes, payoto has it. The comics won't fit into a small flat rate box, so your best bet is either the priority mail flat rate envelope or flat rate padded envelope (both in the $5.50-$6.00 range) or if it or use your own box and mail priority mail but not flat rate, which will generally be in the $5.50- $10.00 range for a pound or two. If it gets above that, then use the medium flat rate box or the like.

FYI UPS ground for a 1 pound small-ish box is about $12.00, so USPS priority mail will almost certainly beat that
posted by flug at 10:47 AM on May 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you sign up for a free account on, you save a little bit on shipping. For example, I sent a small flat rate envelope today and saved 50 cents. You can use a debit card or Paypal to pay for shipping.

I normally charge $6 for shipping small stuff on eBay.
posted by luckynerd at 12:31 PM on May 20, 2014

« Older pearl barley recipes   |   Help me understand a few things about Tumblr? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.