New Slim-Jim Standards to Kick In May 11

Letter-size booklets–aka slim-jim catalogs—will soon be a bit more difficult to open, as the first of the new standards published by the U.S. Postal Service takes effect in two weeks.

Starting May 11, machinable automated slim-jims (with two tabs, weighing 3 oz.) and machinable non-automated (nontabbed, weighing 3.3 oz.) catalogs will be required to have the same physical characteristics: two tabs and must weigh no more than 3 oz.

And slim-Jim catalogers aren’t happy: “In my estimation, this is the worst part of the new rules,” says Larry Davis, vice president of marketing for jewelry and gifts merchant Ross-Simons of the May 11 changes. For one, the slim-jim catalog revision from 3.3 oz. to 3.0 oz. “reduces selling space by 10%.”

And the tab requirements are also going to hurt, he notes. “Tabs cut our response rate by more than 20% in our tests.”

As of Sept. 9, Davis says “a whole bunch of new rules go into effect for booklets.” These include reductions in trim size, cover weight, three tabs vs. two, nonperforated tabs, and static coefficient rules.

Davis says the September changes are more technical in nature, but the “biggest problem is that the non-perforated tabs can’t be opened efficiently without mangling the catalog cover, and the third tab compounds the destruction of the cover.”

Cover weights and paper weights may reduce selling space depending on how close the mailer was to the 3.oz limits, Davis adds, “and they certainly increase costs for folks who were using lighter weight self-cover designs.

Many catalogers rely on the slim-jim books to keep costs down. But the USPS says slim-jims jam sorting machines, so it has developed revisions for the physical characteristics of letter-size booklets. To view the new standards for slim-jims (federal register notice #39 CFR part 111), click visit: http://pe.usps.com/FRN/Booklets.txt; http://pe.usps.gov/FRN/New_Standards_For_Dom_Mailing_Svcs_Final.pdf.

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