Many of you are aware that piano rolls are eligible for Media Mail
when shipped by USPS. Or at least they have been. The U.S. Postal
Service is experiencing widespread abuse of the Media Mail rate. The
rate is significantly lower than either Priority Mail or Parcel Post,
and customers sometimes lie about the contents of their packages and
claim to be sending books instead so that they can save a few dollars
on shipping costs.
Because of this abuse, the Postal Service is starting to fight back.
They are considering raising the Media Mail rates, something that
will affect us all. Since I ship a lot of books, I and many other
booksellers are concerned about the threat to Media Mail rates.
They are also opening suspicious-looking packages which they feel
may contain items other than those eligible for Media Mail. If the
package contains a book or sheet music, it's easy to prove that the
item is Media Mail-eligible. However, piano rolls and other music
rolls are not commonly seen by post office officials so they may not
be aware of their eligibility. The USPS web site at www.usps.com
gives the following guidelines for Media Mail:
Generally used for books (at least eight pages), film, printed
music, printed test materials sound recordings, play scripts, printed
educational charts, loose-leaf pages and binders consisting of medical
information, and computer-readable media. Advertising restrictions
A search of the web site returned no hits for piano rolls. Does anyone
know of a _specific_ reference to piano rolls somewhere in the U.S.
postal regulations? Without a specific reference, the Post Office may
start to question roll shippers during their crackdown. So if you have
any information or idea that will help roll shippers when talking to
Post Office officials, please share them with us.
In the meantime, the Post Office has recommended that if you are
shipping a package by Media Mail, leave the package open so that they
can inspect the contents before it is sealed. Be sure to take a roll
of shipping tape along with you.
Player Piano and Mechanical Music Exchange
[ Search at http://pe.usps.gov/ for <player piano rolls>
[ E713 Media Mail
[ Qualified items [rev. 10-2-03]
[ e. [rev. 10-2-03] Sound recordings, including incidental
[ announcements of recording and guides or scripts prepared solely for
[ use with such recordings. Video recordings and player piano rolls
[ are classified as sound recordings.
[ -- Robbie