The cheapest way to get a book sent to you

The cheapest way to send a book in the United States is USPS Media Mail. Media mail is a special, low-cost postal rate, that was created to foster the exchange of information.

You can’t just ship anything by Media Mail. The USPS has a list of items, and it’s basically:

  • Regular, bound books
  • Prerecorded DVDs, CDs, tapes, but not video games.
  • Manuscripts, plays (meaning, basically, self-bound items or things bound at a copy shop)
  • Printed music.
  • Computer disks or tapes that containing prerecorded medial. (This is a gray area. I don’t think most disks are covered.)
  • 16mm or narrower film.
  • Printed objective test materials. This means the kinds of tests you took in school. It’s not blood tests or anything like that.
  • Printed educational reference charts.
  • Loose leaf medical information for medical students and hospitals.

The packages may not contain advertising. However, the few pages of ads in the back of paperbacks and in liner notes, are allowed.

The postal rate is simple. For 2020, it’s $2.75 for the first pound, and 52 cents for each additional pound.

A typical paperback book weighs less than one pound. A heavier paperback, or a hardcover, weighs between one pound and two pounds.

The real savings happen when you send boxes of books.

To get the best experience, you should buy the postage online, and print and pack at home. This way, you can bypass the lines at the post office!

You can buy postage online at

Buy a label and send it to the seller

Imagine the typical bookbuying scenario online. You buy a book, and pay the vendor, and they mail it to you. Simple.

With book giveaways, it can be a little different. Everyone likes free stuff, but, if you want to mail order free stuff, you have to send postage money.

However, suppose you don’t trust the sender with your money. One way around this is to buy the label yourself, and then send the label, via email, to the sender.

When the sender puts the package into the mail, it’ll get scanned, and you can track its delivery.

This also removes one transaction, and related transaction fees, from the deal. Normal PayPal fees are 30 cents plus 3%. That can be over 10% of the cost of postage.

If the package is never put in the mail, you can void the label, and in a few weeks, you’ll get a refund.

What about for non-free, book buying?

Well, it depends on how cheap the books are. If you’re buying dollar books, you might as well email labels. It saves the sender some time.

You can pay the book price via Venmo or other no-fee money transfer service.

When You Lose or Gain Weight, Sell Your Clothes, or Modify Them

I just sold all my pants for $40! It’s so exciting. I spent a lot more on them but since I lost 50 pounds, I’m really not going to fit in them anymore, unless I gain the weight back.

So, away they went. I posted the ad below to Craigslist and Facebook, and ended up reposting it at least three times before I got any interest:

I have lost some weight, and need to downsize my pants.
I would like to trade for similar, in black, dark blue, 
or dark brown,  or jeans, with a waist size of 38 or 36, 
and a length of 29 or 30. 

I would like to trade 1 used pair for 1 used pair, 
or 1 new pair for 3 used pairs.
I have:

NEW Docker Signature Khaki in Black, 40 x 29
NEW Docker Comfort Khaki in Black, 40 x 32
Basic Editions dark blue khakis, 40x30
Original Khaki Company tan khakis, 42x30
Rustler blue jeans, 40x30
Ralph Lauren Chaps white shorts, 42
Docker shorts white, 40
Lands End yellow swim trunks, 42
Brown cargo shorts (some bleach spots) 40
Basic Editions Black Pants 40
Dockers Black Pants 40

I think the key here is to list the sizes. Since they’re all the same size, and there are a couple new ones, the buyer doesn’t need to look through the inventory too much. Also, at $40 he breaks even on the first two pants.

Being “plus size” and short (5’7″ with 30in inseam), it’s hard to find this size, 40×30. you can go to the store and find only one pair of pants. It’s annoying.

Being able to buy a whole stack of pants for a low price is a real convenience for everyone.

The buyer even drove up from far away to get them. I could not be happier. I got back some money I had in the pants, cleared out some space – over 1 cubic foot – and didn’t need to drive anywhere to do it.

I was hoping to get 38×30 pants, but got no offers, so I ended up hitting up the Goodwill to replace pants. I pulled out around a dozen, and after inspecting them, bought six.

They were basic replacements.

The only highlight was a pair of gray corduroy pants. You can’t really find cords too easily nowadays.

If I could just pay $30 and get a stack of pants in the right size, I’d do it.

I wonder if I’ll need to do this if I make it to a 36 inch waist.

Adjusting Old Pants

I have one pair of shorts I really like, and decided to fix them up. These pants look like hell, but I just really like them.

The hack is to use elastic to tighten up the waistband.

With these shorts, I could use a 3″ strip of elastic, and have it pull 4″ of fabric, reducing the waist size. Using two of these, I turned 40s into 38s.

I also fixed up the long johns. For that, I used an entire loop of elastic, and sewed it into the underwear. I tacked them down in four spots, and it worked. More is probably better.

Ebay Auction with Best Offer

How to work with both the auction and best offer features, together. This unusual combination has subtle rules that make it appropriate for some items.

Ebay auctions are simple: you set a starting price, and then hope for bids. The highest bid at the end of the auction period wins.

Ebay auctions have a feature called “Buy it Now” (BIN), which shows the reader you’re willing to end the auction for a specific price. Most listings are made with “Buy it Now”, without an auction – this is basically the same as making a listing in an online store: people pay the BIN price and get the item.

Often, “Best Offer” (BO) is used with “Buy it Now”. This allows you, the seller, to set a price, but show you’re open to accepting a lower price. Sometimes, I’ll submit a “Best Offer” of 10% to 20% below the asking price, and often get the item at that price.

What most people don’t know about is using the “Best Offer” feature with auctions.

If you make a listing for an auction with “Best Offer”, it shows you’re willing to accept an opening offer that will end the auction.

Once live bidding begins, the best offer feature is turned off, and all offers are cancelled.

The rule is simple: the live auction supersedes the secret offers.


I listed an auction catalog of a Marc Newsom piece. I figured someone would pay between $20 and $100 for it. It’s a lot of money for a book, but, he’s a popular figure among people interested in design and luxury products. The item promoted in the book was sold for over $3 million.

So I opened the auction at $15. That was pretty high. Most auctions start at 99 cents. I just wasn’t willing to sell it for $0.99.

I could have put a “Buy it Now”, but chose “Best Offer” instead.

I was willing to end this auction for less than what I’d put as BIN, which would have been $100. I wouldn’t want to set the price too low, because it sends a signal that the item isn’t valuable.

However, think about how this situation feels to the buyer. Their options are to participate in a public bidding war, which can be fun, or to accede to the seller and pay the $100. Once BIN is in effect, it’s almost like a ceiling on the auction, and that’s not fun.

BO is different. BO allows the buyer to exercise their wealth, and terminate the auction with an offer.

BO puts the seller in the position of accepting the high offer, or rejecting it and waiting for the first public bid. BO gives the buyer control of the situation.

Giving some control to the buyer is good.

My goals were simple: to sell the item for a price I found acceptable; to sell the item quickly.

My goal was not to “beat” the buyer, or to force buyers into competing with each other.

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