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What Is Media Flat Rate Shipping?

Despite what it may seem sometimes, the government wants people to be smarter. In 1938, the U.S. Post Office began offering lower rates to ship educational materials. Thus, media flat rate shipping was born. 

Fortunately, they’ve kept up with the times; “educational materials” no longer means just books. DVDs, CDs, and other digital recordings can ship media mail, too.

How Does Media Flat Rate Shipping Work?

Those wishing to ship education-related materials can get a low price by going with media mail USPS shipping. It’s almost always the cheapest option. 

Are there faster options? Yes. Are there options that will treat your package with more gentleness? Also yes. Remember that it’s the cheapest option. For less than three dollars, you can send a pound of materials anywhere in the country!

What Can You Ship by USPS Media Mail?

As long as your materials are educational, it’s almost guaranteed you can use media flat rate shipping. To be more specific, you can ship:

  • Books over eight pages
  • Sheet music and other printed music (such as guitar tablature)
  • Reference charts
  • Play scripts
  • Book manuscripts
  • Audio and/or video recordings on CDs, DVDs, or other digital storage media
  • Maps
  • Educational periodicals
  • Camera film (as long as it’s not blank)
  • Paperwork for distribution to medical students and doctors
  • Printed testing materials

You can mix and match all of the educational materials you want in your shipment, too. The only thing that the USPS cares about in this regard is that the package meets its weight and size requirements.

What Can’t Be Shipped by USPS Media Mail?

If it’s not educational, it can’t be shipped by media flat rate shipping. The following items are not eligible at this rate:

  • Entertainment such as comics, newspapers, or magazines
  • Puzzles
  • Games, whether video or board
  • Blank CDs, DVDs, tapes, paper, journals, or any other unused media
  • Picture books (must have text as primary focus)
  • Crosswords, sudoku, and other such pattern puzzles
  • Any cards, from greeting cards to playing cards
  • Marketing or advertising materials

You might think, “I’m just including some quick pointers on how to best use the materials,” but this won’t qualify for media mail. The USPS will not put these items into a media flat rate shipment either:

  • Greeting cards
  • Bills/invoices
  • Instructions or directions
  • Descriptive notes
  • Corrections for the media

If you include a note that reads, “Play DVD 2 first,” it violates the rules. Media shipping requires senders to put such supplements into a separate shipment.

Is Media Mail Open to Inspection?

To prevent people from abusing the rules, the USPS can and does open media mail packages to inspect them. At best, you’ll be slapped with a notice telling you to pay the regular shipping rates. At worst, you can be charged with mail fraud.

How Long Is the Media Flat Rate Shipping Time?

Media mail shipping time can be as short as two days or as long as eight. The average is four or five days.

How Do You Calculate Media Mail Cost?

Hre’s the easy part. Media flat rate shipping is calculated by the pound. The first pound costs $2.80, with each pound after that adding only $0.53. The media mail weight limit is 70 pounds. All pounds are rounded up, by the way. So if you have a 2.1-pound package, it’s going to be treated like a 3-pound package.

Benefits of Using Media Mail Shipping 

Because schools and other such institutions are constantly looking for ways to save money, media mail shipping is an attractive option. To ship the same package via First-Class Mail or with a private company like UPS or FedEx, shipping could easily cost ten times as much.

Package Media up to 70 Pounds

As long as your package is inside the media mail weight limit of 70 pounds and comes in under 108 inches of combined length and height, you’re golden.

Drop Off at Any USPS Store

Is there a post office near you? Any post office can receive and ship your media flat rate package.

Additional Features

Another boon to your budget is that stuff you normally have to pay extra for is free. Every media flat rate package gets signature confirmation, delivery confirmation, collect on delivery, and free tracking.


There is simply no cheaper alternative way to ship educational materials, especially if they weigh a lot, need a large box, and have to travel long distances. The rate is the same whether you’re sending the materials to your neighbor’s house or across the country.

Disadvantages of Using Media Mail Shipping

For anyone wanting to ship educational materials, media mail shipping sounds like the way to go. Realize that everything has its downsides, though. You just have to decide whether they’re dealbreakers.

Longer Delivery Times

Media mail shipping is not what you use when you want fast shipments. First-Class Mail will be more expensive but also faster. Remember that two- to eight-day window we mentioned earlier? That time can get longer, even up to weeks. And there’s no international flat rate media shipping. You can send packages only within the U.S.


Packages going through flat-rate media shipping shouldn’t be fragile. The USPS isn’t intentionally rough with the packages, but they’re not known to take extra care with them, either.

Lack of Insurance

Because of that famous lack of caution, it’s a good idea to add extra insurance. Insurance starts at $2.25 and increases depending on the weight of the package.

Shipping Made Easy 

Media mail shipping offers a low-cost method of shipping educational materials. While it can be slow, it is inexpensive. 

If you want to circumvent having to go to the post office to ship out your freshly printed educational books or DVDs, Print Bind Ship is ready to make that dream happen! We not only print and bind but also store, package, and ship. Additionally, we can send your materials anywhere in the world! 

To find out how Print Bind Ship can become your printing and shipping partners, contact us today.