New Slim-Jim Rules are in

The U.S. Postal Service’s Proposed New Rules for mailing letter-size catalogs, aka “slim-jims,” at automation or machinable letter prices have been published in the Federal Register.

The revised guidelines are designed to make slim-jims more compatible with the Postal Service’s new mail sorter equipment. The USPS has rolled out the sorters in preparation for the May implementation of the new Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) system, a new 65-bar code that will ultimately replace the POSTNET and PLANET barcodes.

Among the proposed revisions is a call for tabs with no perforations. Some mailers have said this will make it harder for recipients to open the booklets, causing pages to tear more easily, resulting in lower open rates.

Many catalogers are also troubled by the requirement that booklets must have three 1.5″ tabs, and folded self-mailers two 1″ tabs. Larger and heavier booklets will be required to have 2″ paper tabs. Mailers fear this could also hamper open rates.

While the current maximum weight for slim-jims will remain at 3 oz., the proposal also includes changes to paper weight and dimensions. The maximum size for booklets would be 6″ high by 10-1/2″ long by 0.25″ thick.

There would also be minimum basis weights for cover stock: 40 lb. for some designs; and a 60-lb. or 70-lb. minimum for pieces longer than 9″. Because lighter paper is more easily damaged in processing, the USPS recommends that catalogs use 70-lb. paper as cover stock on mailpiece designs that approach the maximum letter-size dimensions.

The new mailing service prices for 2009 will be announced in February and implemented in May, says USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer. The initial Dec. 19 release was to provide mailers advance notice of the proposed changes.

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