The Post Office has Gone Insane: THERE IS NO MORE SURFACE MAIL TO OVERSEAS

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/25/07 01:50 PM

Buried among the many new changes to the US Postal code was hidden the little nugget that the boneheads at the United States Post Office have entirely done away with Surface Mail service to countries outside the United States.

Gone.

There is no service other than USPS airmail, which actually costs more than we currently charge for the delivery service company we use.

This will put many folks out of business and we're trying to figure out how to deal with this.

This happened with no warning whatsoever.

Every single publisher (both books and magazines) in the United States who ships overseas is scrambling to locate other options--but there don't seem to be any.

I will keep you updated as things develop.
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Postby Guest » 05/25/07 03:09 PM

Airmail is now called "International First Class", the former "Global Priority" is now called "International Priority" and "Global Express" is now "International Express". I'll miss those inexpensive MBags which were a pain and took forever (six months once to Italy) to arrive, but were really cheap (about $1 a pound). We use the priority flat rate envelopes a lot, which have gone from $9.50 to $11 each to most destinations. A new option I like is the flat rate box, $37 independent of weight for up to 20 pounds as long as it fits in the box. One thing I do like is that we can use the same priority envelopes and boxes internationally as domestically, fill out the customs forms online and not have to wait in line at the post office for the attendant to approve it, we can just drop it in the box. But the changes will take some getting used to and do cost more...
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Postby Bob Farmer » 05/25/07 03:11 PM

Solution:

1. Ship in bulk to Canada.

2. Send from Canada.
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Postby Guest » 05/25/07 03:30 PM

I ran across this "upgrade in service" right after the recent rate increases. I was shipping a very light weight item to Sweden that cost $8 more than it did the week before! This was Global Priority - now renamed as Richard Hatch mentioned above.

Any of us shipping overseas will need to drastically revamp our shipping costs. People will be in a state of shock when they see the new shipping fees.

This is really going to impact those who have been shipping by surface. It's bad enough for those of us who have been used to Global Priority rates.

In addition, domestic shipping has really become a crap shoot in the past few years. Items "fall off the truck" or get beat to hell by the shippers. UPS states that they will ship an item up to a certain weight; but if it even gets close to their limit, the drivers roll the cartons rather than lift or use a dolly. This rounds all corners on the carton and often crushes items inside. Try to collect for damages from UPS. If they pay anything, it will often be up to a year before doing so. I've had fairly good luck with the USPO Priority Mail Service using signature confirmation. The rates for this have also gone up dramatically. FEDEx has not been a good alternative for a number of reasons.

Is anyone using DHL on a regular basis? Perhaps they are still hungry enough not to destroy shipments yet.
Jim
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Postby Guest » 05/25/07 03:52 PM

I sympathise with this, but from the UK, a package of 5KG printed matter by air will cost me $100 or so by royal mail.

We still have surface shipping, but it does take an age (up to 12 weeks) to get there. We use a shipper that only charges us a palletised rate for the magazine, we send a batch of 2500 from the UK to the US, and this is increasing in price rapidly over the past 6 months. A single 250gm airmail magazine costs $6 to post.

Seems the way that was recently suggested at the London Book Fair was to print in india, and ship from there... or singapore.

We're now looking into printing a short (2500) run of the magazine in the USA to save on shipping. After long discussions with a certain known magazine that went PDF and traditional print, we will not be going dual format route because of the change in business they observed after the introduction of PDFs. I cannot disclose more save to say they are not 100% happy with the results, and would not have done it if they knew the results.

Jon
www.pentaclemagazine.org
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/25/07 04:03 PM

Well, the result is that if enough people buy the pdf version, you can't afford to print the paper version--and then you're stuck.
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Postby Guest » 05/25/07 06:10 PM

Clearly, Wasshuber is hell bent on doing anything to force you to issue pdf versions of Genii. :D
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 03:14 AM

Richard - can you explain to me why that is, please? Surely if you charge the same for both versions it would not matter which you sold? This is why I argued for PDF versions of Genii in that other thread - am I missing something, though?

Bob
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 04:32 AM

"Well, the result is that if enough people buy the pdf version, you can't afford to print the paper version--and then you're stuck."

"Richard - can you explain to me why that is, please?"


Presumably the cost of printing each issue is A + (B x N), where A and B are fixed amounts and N is the number of copies being printed. Thus printing 100000 copies is cheaper (per copy) than printing 1000 copies, since the value of A is "shared" over more copies.

And therefore if very few copies are printed, then each purchaser would have to pay an unacceptably large fraction of A.

Dave
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 04:43 AM

I would not be interested in a pdf version of Genii. I enjoy the look and feel of the physical magazine.

I have recently completed a full run of Genii all the way back to January 1979. The day Genii goes only digital is the day I cancel my subscription.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 07:38 AM

Presumably the cost of printing each issue is A + (B x N), where A and B are fixed amounts and N is the number of copies being printed. Thus printing 100000 copies is cheaper (per copy) than printing 1000 copies, since the value of A is "shared" over more copies.
I ran this by a friend of mine who owns a printing company. He agrees but also says assuming there is still a significant number of magazines being printed that the actual difference per print is not that great and it is more the cost of initial setup and labor which plays the most important factor...The math on that part is clear.
However, at the same time what you lose on the printing costs dont you also recuperate on shipping, storage, transportation etc? I imagine those total costs are much higher in per unit cost than printing. Is it enough to go pdf? I guess that is a question Richard must ponder...But remember that there is already another problem immediately on the table which is how to handle the change in postal delivery to foreign subscribers. Who will eat those cost? How will the new delivery change my being able to receive a magazine in a timely fashion? Will that cost later be past on to me in the form of higher subscription cost? Are there other magic magazines going digital, if so what are they charging for digital format to their subscribers and how will that play out in terms of competition? Being one of those GENII subscribers based in Italy, I would readily pay for pdf format for several reasons. First and foremost, I wouldnt have to wait for a hardcopy issue to arrive 3 to 4 weeks after its US distribution like now. Sometimes wondering if it will ever arrive at all. Next I would not necessarily be adverse if extra advertisement were placed in pdf as this would have no effect on my shelf space.Perhaps this increase in pdf advertising could offset the increase in per unit hardcopy printing costs. Finally, I imagine as GENII is already a well established publication,if done properly and with the right copy protection in place and marketing, there could be actually an increase worldwide distribution without the worry of fluctuation in exchange rates, logistic and transportation costs, changing postal rates. etc. As a side thought, depending on what country the file is physically being sent or downloaded from(servers)would also have an immediate impact regarding taxes on profit. And if done from the right countries ,little or no taxes at all ;)

Finally I do also like the suggestion of printing and mailing outside of US therefore bypassing the instability of US postal rates altogether but there again you still run the same risks and perhaps even greater than you do operating in US.

Just a thought.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 12:20 PM

The day Genii goes only digital is the day I cancel my subscription.
I also prefer the printed version over PDF........but if it were the only way for Genii to survive, I would continue subscribing to a digital version, as I still want access to the great articles.....especially the in-depth historical articles. Few publishers have the rare combination of passion and knowledge that makes Genii a real treat.

Let's support it, come what may!
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 02:11 PM

Richard - can you explain to me why that is, please? Surely if you charge the same for both versions it would not matter which you sold? This is why I argued for PDF versions of Genii in that other thread - am I missing something, though?

Bob
Bob - it's a question of economies of scale. It's cheaper to print larger runs. For a shorter run, the set up costs would be very high. In other words, if the print run was halved because 50% of people wanted the pdf, it might make it economically non-viable for Richard to bother with the print run.

Richard - is that what you meant? Correct me if I'm wrong.

Joe E. Pike
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/26/07 02:42 PM

This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.

Regarding the number of copies printed, any short-run text book printer or magazine printer (and those are the types of printers being used by my companies) will tell you that the number of copies printed does indeed change the price per unit. More copies printed equals a small price per unit.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 03:21 PM

Richard, I absolutely accept your position on the pdf decision...that is ok with me.
But just for the sake of arguement...Despite the drop off of those not wanting digital, wouldnt it still be at that point more profitable to just go ONLY digital? No printing costs. No mailing cost. etc. etc.
Only asking to understand the business side of things not to debate if pdf is coming.Thanks for your insight.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/26/07 03:32 PM

I will answer this one for Richard, using his words (so he doesn't have to say it twice):

This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.
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Postby Mark Collier » 05/26/07 03:46 PM

I hate to advocate outsourcing but I wonder if it would ever reach a point where it would make economic sense to print U.S. copies domestically and overseas copies in a country with favorable postage rates.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/26/07 04:04 PM

The problem with parts of the run in different locations is that each print run becomes more expensive because fewer copies are being printed.

In addition, in Europe it is far more expensive to print than it is in the US.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 06:02 PM

When my younger son was publishing his Newgrave Magazine, he had it printed in Thailand. He found that it was cheaper to have it printed there and shipped to San Pedro, California than to have it printed in the US. There was a huge price difference for the same quality of work. It did cost him more to have the boxes of magazines shipped from San Pedro to his place on Melrose Ave. in Hollywood than it cost to have them shipped from Thailand to the US! For the issues that went to distributors, he hand delivered the boxes to the distribution warehouses to keep costs way down. The people ordering individually had to pay for individual magazine shipments - and this was not inexpensive at the time. The cheapest way to buy the magazines for the end customer was to pick them up from a magazine distributor as they did not charge for shipping. Overseas orders were always the hardest hit for shipping and with the new rates, things are even more costly. I do not see these costs going away nor getting cheaper.

I suggest that a possible way to cut shipping costs would be to ship in bulk (already addressed magazines) to distribution points in Europe, Japan, etc. from which the magazines could be posted at local rates rather than international rates. There are freight forwarders who are always looking for partial container loads to fill containers. There can often be some favorable air shipping rates found through these types of freight forwarders also. Someone is always trying to fill a container or airplane to make things cost effective. I have found that at times it is as cheap or cheaper to ship a large machine by air as it is by land. Magazines end up being as heavy as machinery and are less fragile to ship. There are many variables to be considered and new shipping connections to be researched and established. Richard, this option to possibly control shipping costs might be worth investigating.
Jim
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 10:06 PM

Jim,

I used freight forwarders years ago who shipped from Belgium to Europe. I've passed this on to Richard already. It was far more cost effective. In fact, the freight forwarder always chose the European country that had the cheapest postal rates at that time. I never had a problem, the bag was picked up in the afternoon and within 24 hours my small journal was in the proper European mail systems to my foreign subscribers.
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Postby Guest » 05/26/07 11:29 PM

David;
I started using freight forwarders in 1975 for certain types of shipping requirements. For something like a subscription magazine, this is a very viable option for cutting shipping costs dramatically. I am not surprised that you also found such services cost effective. Bob Sanders knows quite a bit about import/export and might be able to add to this discussion.
Jim
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 12:18 AM

In addition, in Europe it is far more expensive to print than it is in the US.
Not always. Especially the newer EU countries can produce at a fraction of the cost all the while maintaining quality. The problem at the moment for a US company would be the exchange rate. This would be offset by lower shipping costs.

Out of curiosity... What are the European subscription numbers and does the postal change really represent a serious concern in terms of numbers?
Richard, will the postal change as it stands at the moment immediately affect the arrive time of my subscription?

I will answer this one for Richard, using his words (so he doesn't have to say it twice):

quote:
This thread is not a debate about the issues of whether Genii is going to become a digital magazine available as a pdf--it isn't, and that's the end of that discussion.
Dustin, with respect, that wasnt my question. I am not a publisher and have no knowlegde of the field. My question is only intended to get thoughts from a publisher's view at what point does economics or other factors come into play in this type of modern day decision making when also faced with current e-book/magazine types of publishing...Thanks again for your insight.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/27/07 01:20 AM

And if Richard answers your question, it opens the door to a debate on a subject he does not want to debate. You said it yourself: But just for the sake of argument and then posed a question clearly aimed at Genii going digital: Despite the drop off of those not wanting digital, wouldnt [sic] it still be at that point more profitable to just go ONLY digital? Your qualifier, Only asking to understand the business side of things is moot because Richard does not want to discuss it here. Please drop it.
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 03:58 AM

As the problem is general,would it be the case to have a meeting and to decide for a common method of"defence"against the new rules with other magic(at least)publishers(TLR,etc.).
This could build a"defense wall" and find the right way out.

Alessandro.
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 01:58 PM

Is everyone a lawyer in here?

Anyway, Ill let it go.

As a paying foreign subscriber, however, any response to my questions which DO directly affect my foreign subscription would be appreciated? As the topic gives notice to a problem, perhaps a notice of solution or possible solutions would be in order as well if one is already available. If Richard is not the right source, Id be happy if youd answer those as well Dusten. If you perfer not to put it here, send me a PM.

Thanks again. :)

I understand the problem... so let me put it in simplier terms...How does this change immediately effect me?! What is the remedy?
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 02:42 PM

If I may bring this discussion onto another road.
Last night I purchased a magazine at my local book store for the sum of $11.95 Canadian. Reading this thread I realised that I get Genii for (I believe) around $8.50 Canadian from my local magic dealer.
So while I may not be able to assist in changing the USPS's mind, I can say that I will still support Genii after this price increase is passed along to the consumer.
I would also hope that others outside of the U.S. voice their continued support for this fine publication in these troubling financial times.
Come on people, show Richard some love!!!

Gord
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Postby Ian Kendall » 05/27/07 02:44 PM

It seems that only surface mail has been axed? In that case, if you get your copy by airmail, there should be no difference in the timings. However, if you recieve your copies by surface mail yet are concerned about recieving your issues in a timely fashion, it may be time to look at upgrading your postage version.

Take care, Ian
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Postby Guest » 05/27/07 05:57 PM

This is a site put together by independent magazines and FreePress to organize opposition to the rate hike. It has background information and press coverage. Check out the site and send the form e-mail letter to your congress representative and the US Postal Service opposing the rate hike.

It'll take less than a minute to help out.

http://action.freepress.net/freepress/p ... ation.html
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Postby Guest » 05/28/07 04:39 AM

I actually received notification of the changes weeks before they came into effect.

The USPS did tell those it was able to about the changes. However, if you weren't signed up for the right e-mailings then you might not have known about it in time. But since the changes were known about ahead of time, you should have thoroughly read up about it as much as you could have since almost 100% of your business depends on it.

I'll still buy Genii even if it's more expensive, but I'd also listen to some of the people here. Freight forwarding where possible could save you a ton of money.

David.
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Postby Guest » 05/28/07 02:58 PM

Richard, if you have any questions about distribution or anything related to forwarders, carriers, import or export feel free to let me know. I have over 25 years experience in international logistics and developed the popular method of distribution used in high tech over 20 years ago. I managed distribution points in Zurich, The Netherlands, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, The Philippines, and the US. Sure, not as tough as shipping from Belgium to Europe but I try. Bob Farmers suggestion is very good as well.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 05/28/07 04:48 PM

Here's a link to the Canadian site:

http://www.canadapost.ca/segment-e.asp
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/28/07 07:13 PM

There are no alternative shipping solutions for overseas. We already use a bulk method for overseas airmail shipping--the magazines are flown over in bulk and then dropped into the local mail systems--that is how our air service copies are delivered.

There is no equivalent service for surface mail.

As to Mr. Mitchell's snide remark that I should have known about this in advance, I can only say, "Take my job, please." Companies whose sole job it is to mail periodicals were caught by surprise.

We're still investigating and debating what to do.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 12:46 AM

David Mitchell wrote:
The USPS did tell those it was able to about the changes. However, if you weren't signed up for the right e-mailings then you might not have known about it in time.
How ironic that the USPS communicated these changes by email - and then you'd have to be signed up for the right ones. Shows how much confidence they have in their own service.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 06:24 AM

How ironic that the USPS communicated these changes by email - and then you'd have to be signed up for the right ones. Shows how much confidence they have in their own service.
Not really ironic.. perhaps poor planning. Those retailers who use the USPS dynamic pricing API, or postage meters that connect online need an account from USPS. The email was sent to those people using that account, with links to information on their website. In defense of Richard, he doesn't use those tools, so therefore would not have received any notice via that method.

David.
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 06:33 AM

As to Mr. Mitchell's snide remark that I should have known about this in advance, I can only say, "Take my job, please." Companies whose sole job it is to mail periodicals were caught by surprise.
Richard, I don't want your job.. I'm not trying to punish myself. I've always said that what you've done with Genii amounts to a small miracle. The quality has consistently moved forward from issue to issue (with the exception perhaps of those double covers.... my opinion though).

However the minute I heard about the changes to the mail system I started researching right away, and I'm canadian. Granted, you are one person who does many things so it would be hard. But this issue was known about far in advance.

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/b ... ng_on.html

That's a link from an article in January.

As I've said, and you may take it as snide, but it's really not, and I'm not telling you how to run your shop, because it runs just fine now. (though I think you should somehow sneak in a vacation that doesn't involve a magic convention). Because your business almost solely depends on the mail system, you or someone in your office should know the system inside and out as best they can.

Ignorance is no excuse. I'll still buy Genii now, and when the rate need to go up again. I'm willing to pay for that quality.

David.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 05/29/07 06:50 AM

Richard, David is absolutely right, someone in your office has their head in the sand. Here are my suggestions:

1. Call a meeting of all upper-level Genii management staff (vice presidents down to regional managers -- you may have to fly in your east and west coast people).

2. Put the issue before them and tell them you want a complete audit right down to the mail room people and the Genii cafeteria workers -- they MUST find the fool who let this slip.

3. Once the guilty party has been found -- fire him or her with no severance, no benefits and no health care continuance.

You've got to be tough on your people or they'll slack off and suck the company dry.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 05/29/07 07:15 AM

Richard, David is absolutely right, someone in your office has their head in the sand. Here are my suggestions:

1. Call a meeting of all upper-level Genii management staff (vice presidents down to regional managers -- you may have to fly in your east and west coast people).

2. Put the issue before them and tell them you want a complete audit right down to the mail room people and the Genii cafeteria workers -- they MUST find the fool who let this slip.

3. Once the guilty party has been found -- fire him or her with no severance, no benefits and no health care continuance.

You've got to be tough on your people or they'll slack off and suck the company dry.
Genii's team of corporate lawyers will never go for this
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 07:36 AM

I'm currently on surface mail and would not mind switching to airmail, as I would rather have a more expensive subscription than none at all.

Other international subscribers might feel the same, once they know about the potential threat this change in postage rates poses to Genii's livelihood.

Michel
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Postby Guest » 05/29/07 07:49 AM

Bob:

Humour is always appreciated. I DO know that there are only 1 or two other people in the office besides Richard. (aside from the corporate masseuse).

But I still stand by my other comments.

David.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/29/07 11:07 AM

Good news: we've located another shipping method using the bulk service company who does our air service deliver.

The good news is that the issues will now take only four weeks to arrive by surface mail.

The bad news is that it's going to cost about $8 more per year for a surface mail subscription.
We will be contacting all of our surface mail subscribers and asking them to please send us the additional money so we don't lose money on their subscriptions.

Crisis partially averted, for now.
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