What's the best way of preventing an envelope from being folded?
May 20, 2016 8:17 PM   Subscribe

I sell slim graphic novels by mail. They are 8.5 x 11 inches. What's the best way to prevent the post office from folding them in transit? The obvious idea is to put a piece of thick cardboard in with it. But I want to minimize shipping costs. What would be a cool way of doing that?
posted by storybored to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I use cardboard. Some of it is quite sturdy while being very lightweight. Are these packages under 13 ounces? Are you aware of the Media Mail rate? If your books are advertising-free, Media Mail could be the way to go. I apologize for not having a more clever answer, and also if you are already aware of Media Mail.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:32 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I often receive things like you're describing in cardboard mailers like these photo mailers. If your graphic novels are slim enough something like this would be an option. Those are roughly 30 cents each.
posted by not that girl at 8:37 PM on May 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

As someone who buys lots of floppy comics by mail, the gold standard is a cardboard envelope. Almost nothing gets damaged in those. Even cardboard backing in a paper envelope gets munched corners. Spend on good packaging and send via media mail (on preview, what thebrokedown suggests.) As a buyer, if something arrives damaged, it's upsetting and I often don't repeat buy directly from the artists via mail. On the other hand, if I receive something thoughtfully packaged to prevent damage, I buy again with no hesitation.
posted by quince at 8:38 PM on May 20, 2016 [16 favorites]

I assume you're already writing 'DO NOT BEND' on it in large letters?
posted by bq at 8:38 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Apparently there's already a marketplace working on 'comic packing supplies' if you google it. As I had to.

Like these flash mailers.

Or this comparison of various comic mailers. The discussion of what fits in USPS envelopes may not help with Canada shipping.

Here's a mention of what's available at ULine packaging for us Ottawa, Canada folk.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:40 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Or this comparison of various comic mailers" -> fixed link:
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:49 PM on May 20, 2016

I assume you're already writing 'DO NOT BEND' on it in large letters?

Human nature being what it is, this almost guarantees it will be bent. I'd advise against it. Anecdotally, my sister was informed by a postal worker not to write 'fragile' on a parcel for this very reason. Agree with others that a hard-to-bend envelope is probably the best option.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 8:58 PM on May 20, 2016 [9 favorites]

Paper envelopes-regardless of size--are not strong enough to ship books.Having received damaged books by people who didn't know this, I strongly recommend padded envelopes.
posted by brujita at 9:03 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm going to be weird here and say poster tube and Media Mail or padded/corrugated envelope and Media Mail.

I have received slim books of that size in 1-ply cardboard envelopes with corrugated cardboard inserts that were still forcibly folded lengthways to fit in my standard medium USPS-spec mailbox. This always makes me other than happy. If you make sure that it won't fit in a mailbox even if folded, then it'll either be delivered at the door or left at the post office (in the US, depending on the recipient's location) and picking something up from a post office is less annoying than having something mangled in your mailbox.
posted by holgate at 9:41 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I suspect bubble wrap would be less expensive than unbendable cardboard, but you could test it with whatever scale is available to you, including at the supermarket.
posted by lazuli at 10:11 PM on May 20, 2016

Cardboard in some form is really the solution. Ideally, you want some kind of folding mailer, but the tough part is that you need to keep it under 2cm thickness to be mailable for a reasonable cost from Canada. I'm not sure if any of the mailers linked above would work for that, but this is definitely the best style.

If this is just for occasional mailing, I'd consider just folding a piece of cardboard over, taping it shut over the book, and then placing the whole thing in a envelope.
posted by ssg at 10:32 PM on May 20, 2016

Check out mailing products on Uline. A few that might be relevant:

- Self-Seal Kraft Stayflats® Mailers
- Self-Seal Jiffy Rigi Bag® Mailers
- Easy-Fold Mailers

Depending on the total weight of your shipments, you might be best off with First Class Parcel compared to Media Mail. I recall some requirement that to go as a parcel, the envelope must be at least 3/4" thick.
posted by reeddavid at 12:03 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can find all sorts of stay-flat mailers on eBay in smaller quantities than Uline sells. I use them to mail prints that are also packaged with foam backing board. I mark them 'do not bend' and get maybe 1 mangled per year. Also get 1 or 2 prints getting stuck on the cellophane bag flap adhesive when people slide them out, per year.
posted by Fantods at 12:40 AM on May 21, 2016

Go to a local frame shop and ask for the off-cuts (insides) of their mats from 8.5 x 11 photos. They will have bunches, and will likely sell them to you for cheap, or just give them to you. Use these as backing, and package the comics in cardboard mailers.
posted by ananci at 12:48 AM on May 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

FWIW, I mail a lot of zines and stopped ordering supplies from uline after I heard about this, but there has been lots of discussion among cartoonists around alternatives.
posted by ITheCosmos at 10:25 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

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