New Slim-jim Standards Nearly in Sight

New standards for letter-size catalogs, aka “slim-jims,” could be released by the end of the year, says U.S. Postal Service spokesperson David Partenheimer. “We plan on publishing new standards for slim-jims in the Federal Register soon, based on the results of this year’s testing,” he says.

Particularly after the huge postal rate hike of May 2007, slim-jims have helped many mailers survive cost increases by reducing postage and paper costs. The tall skinny trim size (roughly 6-1/8″ × 11-1/2″ and typically up to 1/4″ thick) is cheaper to mail than a full-size book, and uses less paper.

But a proposed rule adjustment to slim-jim requirements by the USPS could eliminate significant savings. The Postal Service says that slim-jims are too fat under the current requirements, and the tabs required to seal the pages aren’t strong enough. These factors are causing to jam the USPS’s automated processing equipment.

The Postal Service wants to change the size standards for slim-jims, cutting down thickness and therefore page count. It also wants to beef up tabbing requirements, which could affect catalog open rates. (For more on the proposed standards, see Slim-jims get squeezed.)

Partenheimer says the first round of Federal Register notices will announce the changes the USPS hopes to implement. “Customers will have about 45 days to comment on our proposal and then we will retool our standards as much as operationally feasible to accommodate the concerns they express,” he says.

“If that can be accomplished in time for a May implementation,” he adds “then that is what will happen.”

But Partenheimer insists that mailers won’t find major size changes when the new standards come out. “We want to work with the industry to find solutions that work for [catalogers] and the Postal Service,” he says.

While there are some size issues that will likely be addressed in the Federal Register notice, he notes, “they are not significant changes, and do not involve any changes to thickness.”