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The Cheapest Way to Ship Anything

The Cheapest Way to Ship
Books to Another State

Calculating shipping costs and choosing the most economical shipping method can be confusing. Our Cheapest Way to Ship Anything guides make it easy to compare shipping costs and choose the right method for your cargo, whether you're shipping common items like boxes or difficult-to-transport goods like antiques or artwork.

Jump to:

1. How Much Does it Cost to Ship Books?

We've calculated shipping costs for three common shipping methods: USPS, parcel shipping, and consolidated freight.

i. USPS shipping costs

ii. Parcel shipping costs (eg. UPS or FedEx)

iii. Consolidated freight

2. Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most frequently asked questions about shipping Books.


Books are simple to ship as long as they are packaged properly, but they can quickly become very expensive if you’re shipping multiple books or an entire library. Single books or boxes of books may be shipped for a number of reasons:

  • Retailers or self-published authors shipping books to customers
  • Grandparents and other family member shipping much-loved books to their kids and grandkids
  • People who are moving and need to ship their personal libraries to their new home
  • People selling books, such as textbooks, to buyers across the country or in another state
  • Collectors shipping rare, antique, or valuable books

Regardless of why you’re shipping books, understanding the cheapest way to ship boxes of books will help keep your costs low without sacrificing your bottom line or your perfectly curated personal collection.

Beyond keeping your shipping costs as low as possible, there are some considerations to keep in mind when preparing your shipment to ensure it arrives safely and on time without incurring additional fees:

  • Proper packing: Books are sturdy, but they still require proper packing to ensure they aren’t damaged by moisture or rough handling. The best packing method depends on why you’re shipping books—retailers shipping single books will follow different best practices than someone moving an entire household’s worth of books or someone shipping antique or valuable books. No matter why you’re shipping books, the most important thing is to use new boxes—they are the strongest and least likely to have sustained water or other damage in the past, and are best for protecting your books on their journey.
  • How many books you’re shipping: For small shipments, flat rate boxes or padded envelopes are economical options. For larger shipments, you’ll need a medium-sized cardboard box. Don’t be tempted to fill a large box with books—it can quickly become excessively heavy and may be difficult to lift. It may also be subject to oversized package pricing.
  • Book size: Books come in all shapes and sizes—big and small, thick and thin, hardcover and paperback, heavy and light. All of these factors will impact your packing method and shipping costs. Thin, lightweight books can be packing into shipping envelopes, while thicker, heavier books should be packed into boxes.
  • Dimensional weight: If your package is subject to dimensional weight pricing, your shipping costs will be determined by the estimated weight of the package based on its length, width, and height rather than it’s actual weight. Every carrier prices dimensional weight differently, so look for their “dimensional weight factor” when estimating your shipping costs.
  • Book value: Some books are worth a lot of money and need to be packed and shipped accordingly.

How much does it cost to ship books?

The cheapest way to send books depends on the size and weight of your package(s), as well as how far they will be traveling and how fast you need them to arrive. For single items, USPS is the cheapest option. Media mail or flat rate shipping is the cheapest way to ship a few boxes of books, but if you’re shipping an entire library as part of a household move, consolidated freight is often the cheapest method.

Compare rates for shipping books using some of the most common methods:

  • USPS
  • Parcel shipping (such as FedEx or UPS)
  • Consolidated freight

At TSI, we typically see books shipped in medium-sized boxes (18” x 18” x 16”) weighing approximately 50 lbs per box.

The shipping cost estimates for variable pricing provided below will be based on these common sizes and weights.

USPS

The United States Postal Service offers a number of options for mailing and shipping boxes, including:

  • First-Class Mail for packages up to 13 ounces
  • Priority Mail flat rate and variable price shipping
  • Media Mail
  • Retail Ground

If you’re mailing a single book that weighs 13 ounces or less, such as a thin paperback, First-Class Mail will be your cheapest option with delivery in 1-3 business days. Large envelopes start at $1.00, and packages up to 13 ounces start at $3.80. The final price will depend on the size, shape, and weight of your package. Non-machineable envelopes (such as rigid or lumpy envelopes) must be hand-carried and will be subject to a non-machineable surcharge, even if they weigh less than 1 ounce.

For packages over 13 ounces, Priority Mail flat rate shipping is the cheapest way to ship boxes of books. Priority Mail flat rate shipments will be delivered within 1-3 business days, and you must use USPS packaging. The cost of your shipment depends only on the size of the box—as long as you don’t exceed the maximum limit of 70 lbs per box package weight will not factor into your shipping costs, nor will speed or distance of travel. Express flat rate shipping with overnight delivery is only available for padded envelopes starting at $26.95.

Box size Flat rate price
Padded flat rate envelope
(12 ½” x 9 ½”)
$8.30
Small box
(8 ⅝” x 5 ⅜” x 1 ⅝”)
$8.30
Medium box
(13 ⅝” x 11 ⅞” x 11” or 11” x 8 ½” x 5 ½”)
$15.05
Large box
(23 11/16” x 11 ¾” x 12” or 12” x 12” x 5 ½”)
$21.10

USPS also offers variable pricing for shipping books. These rates depend on the size and weight of the shipment, as well as distance travelled, and are typically higher than Priority Mail flat rate shipping. Multiple speeds are available, including overnight shipping, making variable pricing a good option for time-sensitive shipments or overnight deliveries. Priority Mail Express is also available if you need overnight delivery.

Box size and weight Philadelphia → Miami Philadelphia → Los Angeles Chicago → Dallas Cleveland → San Diego
18" x 18" x 16"
50 lbs
$86.40 for 3-Day
$287.20 for Express 1-Day
$132.70 for 3-Day
$326.35 for Express 1-Day
$86.40 for 3-Day
$287.20 for Express 1-Day
$132.70 for 3-Day
$326.35 for Express 1-Day

The USPS also offers a service called Media Mail that is designed specifically for shipping books, CDs, tapes, and other forms of media mail. Media Mail shipping costs depend on the weight of the package, with prices starting at $2.80 and delivery in 2-8 business days.

Box size and weight Philadelphia → Miami Philadelphia → Los Angeles Chicago → Dallas Cleveland → San Diego
18" x 18" x 16"
50 lbs
$29.20 per box $29.20 per box $29.20 per box $29.20 per box

Parcel shipping (UPS or FedEx)

Major parcel shippers, including UPS or FedEx, offer both flat rate and variable pricing options. Both shipping methods can be used to ship boxes of boxes.

Whether you use flat rate or variable pricing depends on how many boxes of books you’re shipping and how fast you need them to arrive. Flat rate shipping has less flexible delivery timelines but is typically cheaper because there are no surcharges for residential deliveries, and your package weight doesn’t matter as long as you are under the shipper’s stated weight limit. If you need overnight or fast delivery, variable pricing will be your best option, but it will be much more expensive.

UPS and FedEx both offer flat rate shipping. Here’s how they compare:

UPS Simple Rate

  • Pricing depends on package size and speed travel—distance of travel does not factor into shipping costs
  • Use your own packaging
  • Package sizes are based on volume, not dimensions
  • Maximum weight of 50 lbs per box
  • Three speeds available: UPS Ground, UPS 3 Day Select, and UPS 2nd Day Air

 

FedEx One Rate

  • Pricing depends on package size, as well as speed and distance of travel
  • Must use FedEx packaging, but packaging is free and can be ordered online
  • Four sizes to choose from: small, medium, large, and extra large
  • Maximum weight of 50 lbs per box
  • Six speeds available: FedEx Express Saver, FedEx 2Day, FedEx 2Day A.M., FedEx Standard Overnight, FedEx Priority Overnight, FedEx First Overnight
  • Flat rate pricing also available for LTL shipments up to 1,200 lbs
Box size UPS* FedEx*
Extra Small $9.25-$21.25 Not available
Small $11.50-$24.50 $9.50-$136.55
Medium $15.50-$33.50 $12.35-$148.95
Large $21.00-$50.00 $19.05-$165.10
Extra large $25.00-$61.50 $30.85-$212.95

Shipping cost estimates are calculated using individuals providers’ online cost estimator tools. Details, exact prices, and shipping times are not guaranteed.

Find out the cheapest way to ship flat rate boxes. 

Variable pricing is also available, with shipping costs depending on the size and weight of the boxes, as well as speed and distance of travel. Additional surcharges may apply for residential deliveries.

Box size and weight Philadelphia → Miami Philadelphia → Los Angeles Chicago → Dallas Cleveland → San Diego
18" x 18" x 16"
50 lbs
UPS:
$68.00-$382.92

FedEx: $60.32-$389.22
UPS:
$108.90-$454.92

FedEx:
$103.45-$445.92
UPS:
$63.50-$377.35

FedEx: $60.32-$389.22
UPS:
$108.90-$454.92

FedEx:
$103.45-$445.92

Consolidated freight (TSI)

Variable pricing is also available from consolidated freight shippers, and some (including TSI) also offer flat rate pricing for items that can be easily boxed such as books.

Flat rate box-and-ship services like ours make it easy to ship boxes of books. You simply tell your carrier how many boxes you need (up to a certain amount dependent on the carrier—our limit is 15 boxes) and they’ll send them to your door to pack, then return when you’re ready for pick up. With TSI’s flat rate shipping, we can transport your boxes anywhere in the continental United States for a flat rate per box, regardless of how far your boxes will travel. Our flat rate boxes measure 18” x 14” x 12” and must weigh less than 40 lbs when packed.

The cost of TSI’s flat rate box shipping depends on the level of service you choose:

Service level What you get Shipping costs
Silver Boxes delivered to your door
Curbside pickup and delivery
Pickup and delivery scheduled by the carrier in a 4 hour window
$50 insurance per box
Starts at $367 for up to 5 boxes
Up to $1,102 for 15 boxes
Gold Boxes delivered to your door
Door-to-door pickup and delivery
Pickup and delivery scheduled by the carrier in a 4 hour window
$100 insurance per box
Starts at $414 for up to 5 boxes
Up to $1,229 for 15 boxes
Platinum Boxes delivered to your door
Indoor pickup and delivery
Pickup and delivery scheduled by the customer in a 2 hour window with options for weekends or evenings
$200 insurance per box
Up to 30 days of storage
Starts at $574 for up to 5 boxes
Up to $1,724 for 15 boxes

If you’re shipping more than 15 boxes or your boxes weigh more than 40 lbs, variable pricing is also available for less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping. The cost of shipping boxes of clothes through LTL depends on the weight of what’s being shipped and the distance of travel—box size does not factor into your shipping costs.

With LTL shipping, you won’t pay per box—the cost of your shipment will depend on the total combined weight of your boxes. LTL shipments are priced at a minimum weight of 120 lbs. Here’s how much you can expect to pay for 5 large boxes weighing 50 lbs each, for a combined total of 250 lbs.

Number of boxes and box weight Philadelphia → Miami Philadelphia → Los Angeles Chicago → Dallas Cleveland → San Diego
5 boxes x 50 lbs per box
(250 lbs total)
$469 ($94 per box) $597($120 per box) $408 ($82 per box) $561 ($112 per box)

NOTE: Box size does not factor into freight pricing.

Learn more about LTL freight.

COVID-19 Precautions

TSI is carefully monitoring all of our shipments nationwide. We have seen minimal delays thus far, and are in constant contact with transportation industry leaders in order to be as proactive as possible. All members of the logistics chain are using the safety precautieons recommended by the C.D.C.:

  • Clean your hands often (washing for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer)
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home if sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surface

NOTE: Shipping cost estimates are calculated using individuals providers’ online cost estimator tools. Details, exact prices, and shipping times are not guaranteed.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ship heavy books?

To ship heavy books, we recommend using smaller boxes to ensure you don’t inadvertently pack your box so that it’s too heavy to carry or subject to additional surcharges.

The weight of your box will have the largest impact on the cost of your shipment. Variable price shipping from any provider, including USPS, parcel, and freight carriers, will be dependent on the weight of your box, along with how far it will travel and in some cases the speed of travel. Pay attention to the weight of your box if you are using flat rate shipping as well—USPS limits flat rate boxes at 70 lbs, FedEx and UPS limit flat rate boxes at 50 lbs, and TSI limits flat rate boxes at 40 lbs per box.

Be careful what else you pack inside a box that contains books, especially heavy books. Books may be relatively durable, but they can easily shift during transit and cause damage to anything else in the box.

How much does it cost to ship boxes of books?

The cost of shipping boxes of books depends on whether you choose flat rate or variable pricing. Depending on the shipping method and provider you choose, your final shipping costs will be based on a combination of the size and weight of the package, how far it will travel, and how quickly you need to arrive.

Here’s a rough idea how much you can expect a box of books to cost to ship using some of the most popular shipping methods in 2020:

USPS

  • Flat rate: $8.30-$21.10
  • Variable pricing: Approximately $29.20-$326.65 per box depending on weight, distance, and speed of travel. Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances or lighter boxes.

Parcel shipping (eg. UPS or FedEx)

  • Flat rate: $9.25-$212.95 depending on size and speed of travel
  • Variable pricing: $68.00-$108.90 per box for 3-day shipping, depending on weight and distance of travel. Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances or lighter boxes, or higher for faster delivery

Consolidated freight (eg. TSI)

  • Flat rate: Starting at $319 for up to 5 large boxes
  • Variable pricing: $469-$597 for 5 boxes weighing 50 lbs each ($82-$120 per box) depending on weight and distance of travel. Shipping costs may be lower for shorter distances

Does UPS have a book rate?

No, UPS does not have a book rate or media mail shipping service. For media mail shipping designed specifically for transporting books and other media, USPS is your best option.

How much does it cost to ship a paperback book?

The cost of shipping a paperback book depends on the size and weight of the book, as well as how many books you have to send.

For single thin paperbacks under 13 ounces, USPS Priority Mail starts at $3.80. For thicker or heavier paperback books, flat rate shipping from the USPS, UPS, or FedEx will cost $8.40 for a padded envelope or between $8.30 and $15.50 for a box (depending on the size of the box). If you need fast or overnight delivery, shipping costs can reach up to $148.95 for a medium-sized box.

For shipments of more than one paperback, you may need a larger box. Large boxes cost between $19.05 and $21.10, or up to $165.10 for overnight delivery.

Can I mail a book in a flat rate envelope?

Yes, you can mail a book in a flat rate envelope, as long as it fits safely and securely within the envelope. Padded envelopes are best for shipping single, thin, or paperback books.

How do I pack a book for shipping?

How to pack a book for shipping depends on why you are shipping the book, as well as how many books you’re shipping. Keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Always securely tape the bottom of the box using multiple layers of high-quality packing tape so the box doesn’t open in transit.
  • Antique books should always be packed individually and carefully wrapped in padding and other protective materials before being packed in your shipping box.
  • If you’re shipping hardcover books, pay special attention to the corners, which can get bumped or bent easily in transit.

If you’re a retailer or seller shipping books to customers, follow these steps:

  1. Place the book in a clear plastic bag or wrap it in bubble wrap, then seal it tightly to ensure no moisture can get in. For antique books, bubble wrap is ideal because it adds additional padding that will protect the book in case of impact.
  2. Wrap the book in corrugated cardboard for added protection. Staple the open ends of the cardboard and securely tape the seams to protect the spine and sides of the book.
  3. Place the books snugly in a shipping box, with additional bubble wrap or craft paper for added padding and protection.
  4. Seal and label the box.

If you’re moving and are transporting your personal library, packing each book individually offers the most protection, but you may not have the time or inclination to pack so thoroughly, and that’s okay! Use small boxes and try to keep the weight below 40 lbs so they aren’t too hard to carry, and don’t pack other things into the box—books are heavy and can cause damage to other items if they shift in transit.

How do I pack multiple books?

To pack multiple books into one box, lay books flat rather than stacking them with the spine upwards. This helps protect the spine and reduces the chance of bending the pages. If you can’t lay all your books flat, pack them standing up like they’re on the shelf, or with the spines down. Never pack books with the spine up and open pages down.

Start by lining the box with padding, then carefully stack the books on top, leaving space around the edge and on top for additional padding. Pack heavy books at the bottom of the box, and group books by size if possible—this makes it easier to make the most of the space you have available.

You may want to consider packing each book individually for the best protection. If you’re not transporting antique or valuable books, this may not be necessary.

How do I ship valuable or antique books?

You can ship valuable or antique books, such as first editions, signed copies, or rare prints, using the same directions and tips outlined above. However, for these books, take extra care when packing to ensure that no moisture can creep in, and use extra padding to protect the book against damage.

You may also wish to consider insuring your shipment if the value of the book or your personal collection is more than what insurance is included in your shipping fees.

Shipping books to another state?

Learn more about TSI's long distance moving and shipping services.

Learn more

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