Catalogers considering switching to a slim-jim format to save on postage might want to put those plans on hold. The U.S. Postal Service will begin to test a variety of booklets, which by postal definition include slim-jims. The result could be revised specifications for such mail pieces.
USPS spokesperson Dave Partenheimer tells Multichannel Merchant that the Postal Service has been contemplating revising its standards for folded self-mailers and booklets, which fall under the “letter mail” category, for some time. “We do have current plans to conduct testing of a variety of booklets within the next few months,” he says. “Based on the results of the tests, we may find that we need to make some revisions to standards.”
The USPS wants to “get the word out” that requirements might change, Partenheimer says, “so mailers don’t risk spending money on converting to the wrong letter booklet specifications.”
Don Landis, vice president of postal affairs for Menomonee Falls, WI-based printer Arandell Corp., says the USPS recently discovered that many supervisors were running slim-jims on flat sorters rather than letter sorters. “Some slim-jims were causing the letter sorters to jam; however, some slim-jims sorted just fine,” Landis says. “The USPS is now testing various types of slim-jims, different piece weights, cover weights, and sizes. The test is supposed to last a couple of months. I do think there will be new specs for slim-jims to qualify for the letter rate.”
Dimensions for slim-jim catalogs are roughly 6-1/8 in. × 11-1/2 in. and 1/4-in. thick. To qualify for conventional letter-size rates, the catalog cannot weigh more than 3 oz. If a book weighs more than 3.3 oz. and up to 3.5 oz., it will qualify for a hybrid rate that is still significantly below the rates for flats. In addition to these rates, there is a subclass referred to by the Postal Service as Heavy Letters for catalogs weighing more than 3 oz. and up to 3.5 oz. that are placed in envelopes. Any book weighing more than 3.5 oz., even if it is enveloped, is considered a flat.
Under the postal rates that went into effect in May, you could save roughly $0.10 per book in postage by switching to a slim-jim from a standard-size catalog — which is considered a flat — that weighs less than 3 oz.