Thursday, December 15, 2005

M-Bag - and how this can change the world !

We all know that books can change the world - but books are expensive and difficult to find, especially in the developing world. People living in the US ( especially citizens from India) revel in the wealth of books they have access to in the US - and many would like to send these books to their friends and relatives back home - and even donate them to the schools and colleges they passed out from. After all, books are available in the US for a song if you know where to look - library book-sales, for example, are a great place to find superb books , for pennies on the dollar. However, shipping books from the US can be an expensive proposition, and this deters most people, as a result of which they often trash books which could change the life of a school child in Africa or India.
Fortunately, the US Government has a very special postage rate for book shipped overseas. This is called the M-Bag rate, and it costs only about 1 dollar to ship a pound of books ! Most people are unaware of this special rate, which is why it is still very under-utilised.
Here's how to do it.
Shipping books (Borrowed from Johannes [[email protected]])

" I sent all the books and other printed stuff via M-Bag (US Mail's "Mail Bag") and here are my experiences:

# M-Bag is one of the cheapest shipping methods available
# First go to your local U.S. Post Office and ask them whether they serve M-Bag
# If yes, pick up a few bags for free, don't buy boxes
# Go to a local supermarket and get old cardboard boxes for free (they shouldnt be huge, but sturdy)
# Get some heavy-duty duct tape rolls (the silver or black ones used for construction work or gig wiring) from a local hardware store
# Pack your books and printed papers (and whatever else you like, since noboday really checks at the Post Office -- at least not in NY) into the boxes. A box should not be too heavy, but it should be full and contents should not have room to move.
An M-Bag can have a maximum of 66 lbs, but packing the books into smaller and lighter units makes handling and shipping a lot easier. Your Post office provides you with any number of M-Bags you wish, so there's no need of stuffing big and heavy boxes in a bag.
# Label each box with delivery address and name, since Bags can tear open
# Massively seal and reinforce the boxes with duct tape. (A lot of work, but it pays off in the end: I received all boxes (and books) completely intact, no damages)
# Put one box in each M-Bag, tighten the bag with one or two knots, and fill out the M-Bag label you got from the Post Office (one for each bag). The M-Bag label will attached to the outside of the Bag at the Post Office, after paying.
# Drag the M-bags, filled with your boxes, over to the P.O, and send them: One lb. costs about one dollar ( no visa or mastercard accepted at most Post offices)
# Four to six weeks later the M-Bags will arrive at the destination. Again, in my case, all the bags, and the boxes and books inside, were completely intact and in original condition."
Michael Patterson, my friend who lives in the US, regularly send us books for HELP. He does this purely as a labour of love - I just wonder why more people don't do the same thing ! Sometimes the US Government can be very enlightened - it is the only country in the world which provides such inexpensive shipping for books !

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:08 AM

    As you may know, new postal rates which went into effect on May 14th included the elimination of the International Surface Mail (M-Bag) option. This will cause many book donation programs to be scaled back significantly or cancelled all together. The attached flyer gives information on the unintended but real consequence of this change.

    Please help the initiative to restore a low rate for humanitarian shipping by:

    (1) Signing the petition: . It is important to give your affiliation, to show how wide spread our ranks.

    (2) Forwarding this message to friends and non-profit organizations on your list.


    Relly Coleman


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