Monday, June 25, 2007

The Small Press Under Attack

Why the sudden harassment by the postal service over Media Mail?
I was interrogated today while sending out some review material.
First, all over the post office were signs reminding you-- if you didn't already know (some of them red signs), that Media Mail Is Subject to Inspection.
Then, the clerk assured me that the envelopes I was sending would be inspected. Books were okay, but "no written material" is allowed.
The context to this is that two recent ULA mailings have not showed up at their destinations.

THE BROADER PICTURE
Note that Perseus Book Group was involved in the recent distro problems which have forced several independent magazines out of business. This is the same Perseus noted in my "ULA Monday Report" last fall as joining in the takeover of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, supposed advocate of the small press.

Other Big Money entities like the Murdoch Group-- already given special treatment by organizations like the National Book Critics Circle, grow more powerful. Murdoch, of course, appears ready to buy out the Dow Jones publications, including Barron's and the Wall Street Journal.

IMMUNITY
The ULA has some immunity to these actions, as we can simply burrow further underground-- or take our message straight to the people themselves, though it becomes more difficult to do so.

3 comments:

Fran said...

Steve does a lot of mailing for his not-writing-related business; the post office sometimes asks him about any media mailings too, if the specific clerks don't know him, or if the clerks are just human hemorrhoids. One time I tried to mail something media mail and got the same questions. The post office claims people have been abusing media mail a lot lately, using it to send stuff that shouldn't get the media-mail rate.

The USPS site says media mail can't have any advertising, but manuscripts (unbound?) can be sent that way. There's a rate calculator there too. Maybe parcel post and bound printed matter rates are also cheaper than first class? If I'm not mistaken (though I may be), magazine subscriptions can get special rates--there may be a bunch of different rates and criteria. Do you type and bind what you send out? Even stapled pages are bound technically....

fdw said...

Point is that are stuff is being censored and stolen by the government/military complex who are simply the operative(s) of the corporate monopolies in OUR case mass media and publishing monopolies. Under the misdirection of "security" (ironic'ly!)
This is pretty clear cut-- personally very outraged by the way things are plaing out in this 'Murikkkan notion (again) since I am personally involved in the 2 ULA cases that King references, and dbly with the packet being siezed by "them" on its way to literary contacts/advocates in Europe! And money of the likes ofpoor little me
being in fact "stolen" by these Tory bastards besides!

JeffOYB said...

I've sent literally thousands of packages thru my local PO's. The drones at the 3 offices I use will still give me the blank stare and hassle once every dozen visits. I've studied the Media Mail rules and the Bound Printed Matter rules.

MM is books and a wide variety of media but it can't have ads---it isn't supposed to have fliers but including a few fliers is overlooked. A book can have a few pages of ads in it.

Ebayers have been abusing it, supposedly. College kids send home everything in their boxes, along with a book, and call it MM. It peeves the bureaucrats.

BPM is interesting in that light MM stuff going shorter distances can be cheaper than MM! It can include ads. I've had clerks tell me it can't be books but it can---"permanently bound editorial"---works for me. It can be periodicals, too---on a onesy "sample" basis, not as a mailout of an issue to subscribers---that's Periodical rate. If you pay the fee to get that. All my mags are "one off" orders so they can go BPM.

The PO computers are slower than ever now---they've made the clerks add a few steps and a bunch of keystrokes so that processing a tidy pile of 10 book orders can feel like it takes forever. I've taken to pre-stamping, but then you don't have a handy receipt (with hand zipcode for my records) anymore.

THE BIGGEST NEW DISASTER IN THE PO IS THAT THEY'VE KILLED SURFACE MAIL OVERSEAS!!! This is something to write senators about. No more M-Bag either---that let you send up to 60 lbs for the 11 pound rate and helped with overseas distro of small presses. It's all airmail now. The clerks tell me it's to help the PO compete better with UPS/FedEx. But how? Those guys don't have surface. Crazy.