About Postage

Virtually everyone who wants their books shipped out of the US wants to know what it will cost, a most reasonable question. About a year or so ago, the “slow boat” method of shipping packages internationally disappeared, leaving only the costlier methods of getting things across the pond or the lake. At the moment, the best method seems to be the USPS. For international shipments, the 20 pound flat rate boxes are best. Trouble is, that I’m not certain what the size of the book in its shipping box, as I receive it from the printer, will be. This means that I’m not certain whether a pair of books will fit the medium box, or the “large” box. The difference is that one costs $41, the other about $48. And, of course, that is one of three shipments. You can have a look at these rates on http://www.usps.com. (Don’t ask me why the US Postal Service has a “.com” suffix, it’s a long story.) Priority Mail International takes about a week.

Of course, if you are completely desperate for your first two copies, I’ll ship by any means by which you are willing to pay. But the commercial carriers, FedEx, DHL and so on get astoundingly expensive.

For those of you in the US, your books will most likely arrive “media mail”. It’s less expensive than Priority, but if the difference turns out to be reasonable, I may change my mind. The difference in shipping time is 3 days vs. 8 days, at least, this has been my experience.

The original VIE was shipped in two boxes of about 30 pounds. At that time, international parcel post still existed, but it still cost a bunch. Today, I’d be afraid to estimate the cost for those books.

If one of the Australians is interested, you might look up for me the cost of sending, for example, 9 pounds from Sydney to Perth. There’s a small possibility (no promises) that if there are sufficient subscribers in Australia that I’d send a number of sets directly from Milan to someone there, who would be willing to transship the sets to other folk in Australia. This might save a few bucks.

People near Milan will get their books some more direct method than via Virginia.

Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me. By the way, a proofing copy of Volume 3 is sitting here on my computer: I am reading Dodkin’s Job while trying to work up the enthusiasm to measure time delays in coaxial cable. Guess which one is more fun…you’re correct. If you haven’t read Dodkin’s Job, you are in for a real treat–it’s hilarious.




  1. cam said,

    March 4, 2010 at 2:16 am

    hey bob, just did some calculations based on postcode 2000 (sydney) to 6000 (perth) based on 4-5kg package (9lbs=4.1kg) and without the dimensions of the box got a price of $21.90 (regular 4 day delivery) plus $5.50 for person to person (signature) delivery confirmation plus $5.20 for insurance for $400.
    All up it’s $32.60 or just under $30 in your bland green money. May be more though depending on the size of the box.
    cheers, cam

  2. rclacovara said,

    March 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I don’t care for the color either, but strangely enough, I enjoy seeing it. In any event, when the cost of getting the books from Milan to someone in Australia is added, perhaps it’s cheaper from the States. Turns out that Milan to the US, for larger shipments, isn’t too bad. (Not cheap…just not heart-rending.) I’ll mull it over and add numbers. Many thanks.

  3. TH said,

    March 4, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I don’t know if I qualify as being near Milan, but not having to ship in and out of the EU should save some money (no customs duty, etc). I have also noticed that shipping from the US to Finland has become much more expensive in the past year or two than it used to be, while shipping from the UK and Germany (two countries I have experience of) is still pretty inexpensive.

  4. Carlos said,

    March 8, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Can we read ‘near Milan’ as ‘in the EU’ (for the way, by US standards, EU is not too big), or something in the 1000 or 1500 km form Milan (this will be almost all Europe)?

    Anyway, is getting really curious how in a time of declining costs for transport, mail is getting really expensive… airmail only is a luxury; I can wait for most of my intercontinental shipments one or even two months (sometimes, even by plane, I get that delay from the US, thanks to the Spanish Postal Service), but today there is no option to get this for mail shipments. Really bad news…

    • rclacovara said,

      March 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

      Hm… In the US, we have a fast-food chain called “Burger King”. Their motto is “Have it your way”. Indeed, I am happy to allow subscribers to define “near Milan” any way they wish. So if you’d like to pick the books up, that’s no problem, even if you come in via a trans-Lunar injection.

      As for the shipments, it’s a shame that there’s no longer “surface” mail. It did take 6 weeks, but it was much less expensive than the existing options.

  5. Tarl said,

    March 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Are you familiar with the Air Mail M Bags? They can be used for books. I think they are the cheapest method for heavy shipments.

    • rclacovara said,

      March 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      We used these once for the original VIE sets. We shipped over 400 sets of books, in two boxes, so figure, at least 800 shipments. Of these, one was lost in Australia using USPS surface shipment. The other was–you guessed it–an M Bag. I’ll look at them once more, though…

  6. TH said,

    March 25, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    It appears I misunderstood that Milan comment. I suppose if someone does pick their copies up directly from the printer, and would also pick up copies from other subscribers and send them to them for a reasonable sum of compensation money, that might work. Otherwise, the US route it’ll be.

    • Dr. Bob said,

      March 25, 2010 at 5:17 pm

      The problem is that the cost of shipping from the EU to various places is often more than that of shipping from the US to those same places. The printer is willing to ship the individual volumes anywhere, but even in the EU that is very pricey. Since books are being printed as I write this, I will be working to check the current pricing over the next few days. I miss the old “surface” shipments, that did take weeks, but didn’t cost a fortune.

      • TH said,

        March 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm

        Thanks for the correction. Please remember, there is no customs duty or VAT added to items shipped from an EU country to another EU country (Italy and Finland both being EU countries). There will, of course, be extra work in sending books to various places rather than to one place only, which, I would imagine, would add to the shipping & handling costs. Still, I cannot imagine that the US route would be cheaper; at least it would be slower.

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