Friday, October 26, 2007

U.S. mag covers may need to change to suit new high speed sorting system

For those U.S. magazines who hate how the mailing label on their magazines clutters up their covers, worse may be coming. Magazine mailers in the U.S. have until December 10 to comment on -- and, many hope, to head off or modify -- some drastic changes in handling and delivery standards that the US Postal Service is proposing, according to a story in Folio: magazine.

The changes would be set in January 2008 and implemented in January 2009. They would likely impact Canadian titles with copies going through the U.S. mail stream.

One of the biggest changes would be to mailing labels. Under the proposed terms, labels would likely cover a magazine’s nameplate, parallel to and within three inches of the top edge, or perpendicular to and within two and a half inches of the top edge. The result may be a requirement for magazines to redesign their covers and logos to accommodate the new label position.

Unless they want to pay full-rate, single-piece first class mail, publishers would have to meet some stringent "flat piece" regulations including more stringent address verification. And magazines that are used to putting in cardboard or hard inserts may no longer be able to, in order to allow the magazines to be 'flexible' and capable of being bent or folded.

Most of the changes are related to allowing faster automatic sorting using new high speed machinery called the Flat Sequencing System (FSS). The new system, due to come in sometime in October 2008, is said to bring 40% savings in the time of mail carriers.

(One interesting fact about the proposed changes is that, right now, about 17% of mail gets damaged in existing mail handling, such as saddle-stitched covers being torn off.)


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