SHIPPING COMICS, AND SOME OTHER STUFF I KNOW

We have all been victim to, or heard of bad shipping that results in either a Christmas Miracle, or destroyed comic; and it’s often the latter. Considering how much everything in comics has changed since my last shipping article in 2015, and even Brian Wood’s 2016 How To Properly Pack A Comic For Shipping, I’ve been wanting to write an update for quite a while. Below is just that, and a whole lot more.

There are many different methods for sending books. So if you get nothing else from this article, let it be that you should always ship something the way you would want to receive it. Bottom line, this will dramatically lower your chances of unsatisfied customers, damaged goods, and increase repeat business.

Below is a method Ben S. author of CBSI’s Top 10, who can also be heard on the Tales From The FlipSide Podcast, showed me. This is a low cost, yet secure way to ship raw comics using mostly the free supplies from the USPS*. I always salvage shipping supplies from my own purchases, and even ask the LCS for old Diamond boxes they’re just going to throw away.

What you will need:

Amazon Basics Envelopes 

Priority Mail Tyvek Envelope

Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope 

Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box – 2

Light/Medium tape and box cutter of your choice 

A scale if you don’t have one: Choice #1 and Choice #2. I prefer #2 because it can be used for shipping larger packages up to 75LB.

For affixing your label I would recommend a Tape Gun and packaging tape. Unfortunately Amazon suppliers can change, which means product quality can change from order to order, so always shop around. If you need bubble wrap for the method you use, this is good stuff here.

***IMPORTANT***

Never put heavy duty tape directly on bags to hold a comic in place. It will tear the bags when the customer opens it. 

**Tab every piece of tape**

This makes it a lot easier for customers to open your package safely without using a blade.

Right about here is where I almost Paul’d it up. If your cardboard is cut too big it won’t fit into the Tyvek.

Sealing the Tyvek is optional, but can help with water protection.

The self sealing envelope is nice, but always add tape for security

I put a Fragile sticker on the front and back of each package. These Avery stickers are what I have been using (Bulk Avery here), but these large and small stickers save you printing.

***WARNING***

Some mail carriers treat these requests as challenges to cram packages into mail boxes etc.

Unfortunately there’s only so much you can do.

I also cut off the top and bottom portions of my labels. It saves space, but I also I don’t like packages advertising eBay in case someone gets curious about what’s inside.

Shipping cost $3.18

Never include your trash in a package, it’s just rude.

Make this method your own and let me know if you do something different in the comments below. Additional comic supplies can also be found under CBSI’s Recommended Supplies list, as well as these websites (in no particular order).

Other useful items for comic sorting is a Label Maker and BCW Dividers.

 

Now lets talk about shipping slabs

Again, everyone has their own methods, and the golden rule applies.

 

First put your slab inside two USPS Bubble Mailers. I always double box with a USPS Priority 1097 inside a USPS 1092 box. Other people use the USPS 1092 inside a USPS 1095 box which is a bit bigger. If you want to go wild, each of those boxes will fit inside a Regional Rate Box B2 box as well.

 

Adding additional cardboard in or around the bubble mailers, and filling this space is at your discretion. Just remember ounces lead to pounds, and pounds lead to payment. Just don’t use packaging peanuts, everyone hates them and they are just as annoying as the strips pictured above.

Add a little extra tape for security

1 slab=  1lb 13oz

Shipping Ohio to Virginia: $7.40

Shipping Ohio to Florida: $8.15

Shipping Ohio To California: $10.80

Shipping Ohio to Canada (1st class): $9.99  *see below

 

The box on the left is the Regional Box B. So if you wanted to add more slabs or padding maybe order a set of these and see if they would work for you. If you use this box, line it with another box to give it extra protection. Worst case, trace the B’s out for a few shipping boards if they are too big for your needs. I have also heard of people wrapping these boxes in brown kraft paper, or even Christmas paper to ship Media Mail. Again though, golden rule.

 

Buying postage, and shipping in bulk

 

To save yourself the hassle of going into the post office either print your labels from eBay, Paypal, or website of your choice, then schedule a pickup or just drop it off at your local post office.  They should have a designated drop off area which will always put a smile on your face when the line is long.

Once you’ve logged into PayPal go to https://www.paypal.com/shiplabel/create/ and your screen will look like this.

 

 

Enter your shipping information and you’re off to the races.

 

 

   International Shipping     

 

Shipping internationally can get tricky. If you are doing this for eBay, understand that their Global Shipping Program charges buyers an arm and a leg and can dissuade buyers. A better option may be to have international buyers contact you and establish an amount through PayPal. Further details in a future article.

 

First log in like above, choose the country of your choice, and input the information.

 

**NOTE**

The maximum weight for First Class is 4LB, and the 1lb 13oz Slab was $9.99, so plenty of wiggle room. So unless it’s a rush delivery, don’t use Priority to Canada.

 

The customs is where it gets tricky, especially for sales. Talk to your buyer about setting this up; usually anything above $20 will incur import fee’s for the person receiving the items. If customs searches a package and the value is determined to be higher, they will charge the receiver of the package. Adjust numbers at your own discretion.

Your label will look like this. Don’t forget to sign/date before you tape it to your package (you know I’ve done it!).

The above process is virtually the same for other countries. Your biggest challenge will be making sure you get the address, and customs form correct. You will probably need the USPS Customs Envelope for any country other than Canada

 

Bulk Shipping

So someone wants to buy your Wolverine Vol 2 #0-192……for bulk shipping anywhere I recommend Lowes heavy duty boxes

Small       $1.59

Medium    $2.45

Large       $3.39

Line these boxes with extra cardboard and use the method of your choice following the above processes.

 

Shout out Ben S, Ben C, Shaun, Jimmy, and Brian W for helping with this article! Next time I’ll try to ask twice as many people twice as many questions!

Let me know what I Paul’d Up in the comments below!

*The USPS website states supplies are only to be used for Priority shipping, and penalties may occur if used improperly.

17 comments

  • Last week I shipped off an Amazing Spider-man 129 CGC 7.0 to a buyer who paid some pretty good coin for it. I’ll be damned if the post office didn’t wait til I shipped off this one particular book to show how badly they can beat up a package.

    It was a tracking nightmare, one where I watched the package almost reach its destination only to shoot out of its way from VA to NY. And then after a course correction and actually making it to its destination on time my buyer gets the package only to find they had crushed it and cracked the case inside.

    My buyer, who was very cool about the whole mess, will get his money back and I had the package insured. But regardless, I feel terrible for him. It went from an experience of anticipation and excitement over something he had spent time looking for to one of regret.

    I thought I had done a good job of packaging it and I think I actually I did but in the future I am going to be a lot more aggressive in how I package my books. So thank you for this article. Before I stated writing this I ordered some of those boxes you have links to.

    • Paul W.

      It never hurts to pay the extra couple bucks for full replacement value, or even signature delivery on expensive books. I’m sorry your package turned into a USPS soccer ball :/

  • fastballspecial

    I like your method for its economically approach its a very cheap method that keeps the weight down. The size method is pretty close to mine. I do a 12 x 9 sheet of cardboard multiple times.

    I honestly would increase the cardboard though in your 1st class packages. Ive never had a buyer compliment on my cheap shipping. Id rather they have to error on a bigger side of caution with more cardboard.

    Also very happy you didn’t mention the cardboard mailers that are killing great comics everyday in the corners.

    • Paul W.

      There is definitely room for more cardboard, you can’t overprotect a comic; as long as it’s easy for the buyer to open I’m game. Which mailers are you talking about?

  • I don’t know about others, but I find when I just drop my shipments off at the Post Office’s “drop box”, it often takes days for them to do the initial scan (and in a couple cases, they just disappeared altogether). I’m also nervous about scheduling a pick up and leaving my shipments unattended. I bite the bullet, stand in line, and make sure they scan each item in front of me so it gets registered right away. I ship out everything within 24 business hours and I get some money back from eBay at the end of each month as long as I keep to that shipping window. I wouldn’t be able to get that $ back by just dropping it off at the PO if it takes longer than usual for the item to reach its destination (which happens more often than I’d like). Thankfully I’ve been able to figure out the times my PO isn’t as busy, so standing in line usually isn’t that much of problem.

    • Paul W.

      YIKES! Sorry to hear you have packages completely disappear! I have run into the issue of a package not being scanned for a day or two before and then appearing 3 cities away, it can be frustrating. For me I scheduled the pickups when I was home on a Saturday for big boxes, or even at my office where the mail carrier refused to pick up packages of a certain size or “didn’t have room in the car”. It can help you avoid frustration, but so can not having a package stolen so I get it.

      I don’t have an eBay store, you get money back for shipping within 24 hours? Tell me more! I love avoiding the line when I can, especially during the holidays.

  • I wish Amazon would make those who choose to sell comics read this article before they are allowed to sell… On average, from my experience buying over the years Amazon sellers pack the worst. Of course there are sellers on Amazon that know what they are doing, but far too many don’t or just don’t care.

  • If you ship USPS First Class and the envelope tears, the Post Office can up-charge the recipient the Priority rate if they see Priority materials in the packaging. Happened to me 🙁

  • Demon Jim

    A few notes:

    A) For cheap boxes that can hold a bulk order I recommend the boxes Wal-Mart sells in their shipping supplies area. Less then a dollar and they are pretty sturdy. I’ve used these for a few years now and have never had problems.

    B) And as mentioned above by Reed S, the post office can be really strict with the packages. So make sure you don’t bust yourself. Cover up as much of the white part of the box as you can or flip the board so the cardboard side is facing up. I’ve actually used a Priority Mail flat rate small box inside out as first class, but I realize I got stupid lucky it wasn’t sent back to me. I don’t recommend it I was just in a pinch.

    C) I find the card board used for the priority mail boxes to be thin so I always add more protection or use some bulk cardboard boards I bought off of ebay. If you luck around you can them cheap. I bought the comic mailers a few times, but they were just to pricey.

    D) Another tip is that since the priority mail stuff is free if you make an account on the usps website you can order them in bulk and get them shipped to your house free of charge. Use this to your advantage to familiarize yourself with their different sizes. It’s through this that I have an assortment of boxes, envelopes, and stickers. Again all of it free of charge. The priority mail stickers are pretty cool, or at least I feel cool slapping them on, and if your shipping priority in a normal brown box it adds a little bit of validity to your package.

  • Awesome article Paul. All us Canadians north of the border will appreciate this!!! Thanks for debunking the myth that shipping to Canada is expensive and hopefully more people will sell to Canadians and not use the global shipping program from eBay!

    • Agreed. I’ve never been charged less than $18.00 for delivery of a CGC slab coming from the US. It’s usually $20-22.

      Oh and I absolutely HATE the Global Shipping Program from eBay. Charging me a customs fee before I even get the item? I’ve bought lots of things from eBay before and was never charged a customs fee. I think the whole thing is a scam.

      • Paul W.

        Jimmy has touched on this during UD before. It is a big scam, and it makes sellers not want to use the Global Shipping Program all together because they never see sales.

  • thebeckspert@gmail.com

    I do basically this, except instead of cardboard, I use foam board. There are no “seams” where the package can bend. You essentially hafta snap the board to bend the book. I’m in Canada, so I hafta pay for everything anyways (no free USPS boxes).

    • Paul W.

      Awesome, where is a good place for our Canadian friends to buy some of the foam board? Is there cheaper shipping options from Canada to the US rather than driving across the border?

  • Great write-up! I wish everyone shipped like this. Does anyone have suggestions for for repairing mail damaged books? I have received a couple comics that seem to keep a curve after my mailman forced a package into my mailbox. They don’t have any hard creases but just applying pressure to them doesn’t seem to work.

    Maybe an article on how to repair comics due to mail damage would be a good follow up to this one.

  • For my raw books I use the Gemini mailer. In the states you can order these directly from Gemini. I’m not sure about international buyers tho. I get 100 mailers for around $50 US bucks and about $15 shipping. I’ll usually get a discount on my shipping labels through eBay and I apply that discount to the cost of the mailer.

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