I'm glad to say that Eric York's experience with Media Mail is not
typical. I have shipped dozens, maybe hundreds, of band organ rolls by
Media Mail (formerly called Book Rate), and have never been questioned
by a postal clerk. Nor have I ever had a shipment lost. One heavy
shipment was slightly damaged once, and I did have to replace one roll
All in all, my experience with Media Mail has been excellent. They say
it travels more slowly than other shipments, but I have never noticed
any appreciable delay -- four days or so from New York to California,
with a charge of $3.15 for a four-pound roll.
About advertising, my opinion as a layman would be that as long as
the "advertising" is historical, i.e. it doesn't advertise anything
currently available, it isn't really advertising and thus doesn't
disqualify an item from the Media Mail rate.
Of course, the water gets murky here. If it is an old advertisement
for Steinway or General Mills, who is to say? When I ask the postal
clerk about shipping literature by Media Mail, the only question I get
is, "Is it bound or unbound?"
Irondequoit, New York