Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stamping Out the Fun

The lines are getting pretty long at the post office as people send out their holiday mailings. It's the card-sending season, and everyone wants to make sure their messages get to family and friends in time for the various celebrations marking the beginning of winter.

We love greeting cards so much at Castle in the Air that, through our publishing imprint Dromedary Press, we print many of our own styles for everyday giving as well as for the holidays. We use one of my favorite paper stocks imported from Italy so the cards are as enjoyable to hold as they are to look at.

Earlier this week, a customer told us that when she went to the post office to post her holiday cards she was told by the clerk that they required extra postage. We asked our postman that day whether this could be true, and he said that one stamp should have been enough. But when we took some cards and packages to the post office this morning, we got a different story!

Even though a Dromedary Press card in its envelope weighs less than one ounce (and therefore don't necessarily require more than one First-Class stamp), it is -- at just over 6 ⅛ inches in height -- just a tiny bit too tall to qualify for the U.S. Postal Service's "letter" rate. In order to ensure regular delivery for one of our ca
rds, then, a sender must put 83¢ in stamps on the envelope.

Do your holiday cards qualify as "letters" or as "large envelopes" when it comes to the U.S. Mail? Letters must be no smaller than 3½ inches tall and 5 inches long. If they exceed 6⅛ in height or 11½ inches in length, then they are large envelopes and need more than just a single First-Class postage stamp. Additional postage is required for, among other things, envelopes that are square, rigid, closed with one of those darling button-and-string ties, or addressed such that the envelope must be held "tall" in order to read it (fun!). And don't forget to add 20¢ if you seal your envelope with wax, as this requires hand-cancellation of the envelope.

In short, many things that make a personal letter more interesting and fun will make it costlier to mail it. We love the postal service and we want to see them thrive, but the inconsistency of opinion as to how much postage a greeting card needs, and the arcane rules surrounding postage rates, is just discouraging to people who want to use the mail to keep in touch with loved ones.

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