Journey of a book
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Journey of a Book – Going Postal by D.G. Kaye

Journey of a book


I set out to do some errands a few days ago, and one of my stops was to the post office to send off some of my books across the Pond. I expected it to be a quick transaction, especially since I had the books already packaged, labeled and ready to go. But instead, it turned out to be a mathematics expedition.

Allow me to preface this by saying, when I was in Arizona this past winter, I’d sent a few books to a friend who lives in California – three or four, I don’t remember exactly, but I do remember I was offered ‘special book rates’ and the whole shebang cost me $6.00. Now let’s fast forward to the other day to my Canada Post for the rich and famous.


Okay, here goes. Last winter one of my American author friends suggested we do book exchanges with our books. I thought that would be fun and so I took a copy of each of my books for Tina to send off to her in California from Arizona where I spent most of the winter because the postage everywhere is cheaper than from Canada. When I received Tina’s books in Arizona, she’d sent two copies of her latest book, Vampyrie, one for me, and one to give our friend Sally when I was to see her, supposedly, at the Blogger’s Bash in London this past June, but due to circumstances, I never made that trip. And Tina’s (not so small) book for Sally remained wrapped on my bookshelves.

A month ago, Sally and I decided we were also going to swap a few of our books which we hadn’t read yet. I thought that was perfect and remembered that I still had Tina’s book to give Sal so I wrapped up all the books in parcel paper, and took them to the post office. I thought it would be a quick transaction until the clerk got out her measuring tape and placed my package on the weigh scale and told me “That will be $64 to send them to Ireland”. I just stood there with my mouth opened and asked her if she was kidding. But she wasn’t.

I ranted about the cost of everything in my country and how shameful the government is for not giving writers a break with books to educate readers like they do in the U.S. In the middle of my manic moment, I took apart the parcel I had so meticulously wrapped and said, “Okay, if you want to play the measurement game, let’s go through these books one at a time.” As I handed them to her one-by-one, asking her to give me a cost per each book to try and bring down the deficit, she noticed they were all by the same author, and in her best effort to remain cheery through my tirade, commented, “You must really like this author’s books.” I laughed out loud while trying to take in the mathematics of the various methods of re-packaging the books to get a better rate, and informed her, I was the author of those books. Her mouth hung open in a gasp as she blushed and told me how honored she was to meet a real author. I took in my moment, but wasn’t sidetracked by my disappointment of the price to send off my books to Ireland. But she became a little more sympathetic to my complaint.

The clerk had mentioned that if any of the books could easily slide through a mailbox slot I could send it through a cheaper rate. One book could, so I packaged that separately. I packaged the other 2 of my books up and just made it under the allowable weight before the next price hike. But Tina’s book, yes, Tina’s book, was POINT ZERO ONE over the weight before the jump from $18,00 to $32.00. I was livid. The lineup was growing by this point but I was in no hurry to leave yet. I asked the clerk if she was seriously going to charge me an extra $14,00  on top of the $18.00 to send one bloody book and she replied by telling me she had no choice because it would be weighed again and if there wasn’t sufficient postage paid it would come back on her. Needless to say, I was losing my ‘pretend’ friendly patience and said “Give me back that book! Do you know I could buy this damn book 3 times over with the price you’re charging me?” I paid her to send off the other books, which subsequently, I managed to get them all off for $28.00 and took Tina’s book back home with me. But I had another plan.

My best friend is in town, visiting from the U.K. Yes, I am giving her Tina’s book to take back with her next week and mail it off to Ireland so Sally can finally get her copy. So how many miles will Tina’s book have traveled? Okay, I’m not a mileage expert. But suffice it to say, Tina’s book came from California to Arizona to Toronto, soon to be going to England, where it will finally be sent to Ireland for a mere 5 bucks!

What’s the moral of this story? Do your math homework before sending things across borders. Canada is exceedingly expensive to send anything anywhere, including within Canada.  Now you non Canadian authors can appreciate why us Canadian authors don’t like to do paperback book promotions. Ordering my own books from Amazon, costs me more than the retail price of the book after I pay U.S. shipping to Canada and then convert to our lesser dollar. It’s an author’s madness!


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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • John Maberry

    Oh, you’re such a good ranter! It will make you sick to know I send five copies of Waiting for Westmoreland to my friend in DC for about $5.65. But that’s at media (formerly printed matter) rate. But don’t blame Canada–international postage rates are set by the UPU, a multinational organization established in 1874.

    • dgkaye

      So you just came here to brag? LOL. Yes, that’s it! Media rate! That’s how I sent Tina 3 books for that same price while in Arizona. It’s highway robbery here. And, I’m going to take your ‘ranter’ comment as a compliment, LOL 🙂 🙂

      • John Maberry

        This Universal Postal Union apparently is a complicated affair–as lots of international agreements are. The US Postal service takes a beating on some incoming mail–losing money on the deal. They may evaluate economies and other stuff. But in any case, if there’s an option to ship by boat rather than air, that’s got to be cheaper for international mail. Clerks at any office SHOULD know how to give you the best rate–but that may not happen. 🙂 Yes, the “ranter” was a compliment. 🙂 🙂

        • dgkaye

          🙂 Well as I mentioned above to Charli’s comment, the postal service is in its heydays with business with all the online shopping services, so it’s just greed. Sorry, but I’m not feeling sorry for any government postal service. :). And oh yes, there is always a boat option. I was told I could send the books by boat and my parcel should arrive in 3-4 months. Are you kidding me???????????? 🙂

          • John Maberry

            Only 3-4 months! LOLLLLLLL. Can’t believe cargo container ships take that long to move stuff. Must be like the bus that stops on every corner versus the express–or in this case, every island port with time to visit bars and friends at ports of call.

    • dgkaye

      Wow thanks for sharing that Colleen. At least you live in the US so when you order your own books you aren’t paying 3 or 4 times the rate for your book. Even with author rates the shipping is appalling, then converting to our dollar costs me about $14 to buy my own book!!!!! Now, I haven’t checked what it would cost to order and sent to someone in the US. I surmise it may be a few bucks cheaper, but once you send out of North America, it’s brutal. 🙁 xx

  • Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    OMG.. appalling… you will notice when my three books arrive to you that it only cost be about 12 Euros.. Happily one of your books arrived this morning – MenoWhat… so I shall enjoy reading that soon. sorry about the hassle but that clerk is going to remember your name.. and probably mine!!! ♥

  • Hugh's Views and News

    And I was told the other day that ebooks are on the decline, and paperbacks on the increase? Oh, lord, Debby! I had a similar situation when sending a parcel to my sister in Australia the Christmas before last. I ended up repacking the parcel three times to save a price hike of £50! However, when it comes to sending a book, I think I only paid around £6 when sending you a copy of Glimpses. I also found out that when sending mail to Canada, you have to put the senders details on the front of the envelope. Thank goodness the clerk behind the counter was rather nice to me when I complimented him on his taste in ties. He wrote the details on for me.

    • dgkaye

      Lol Hugh, you’re such a charmer. A little compliment is always worth a try, as I did. But yes, it’s too expensive and Sally mentioned about the same price as you to send a book, which is a far cry from 18 to $24 dollars here! No mercy for struggling writers, lol. 🙂 <3

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    I can so see why you had a rant at these extortionate chargers Debby. And that is really High.. We moan our own postal chargers.. They try here in the UK if you have important documents, asking whats inside that is to be sent internally in the UK by adding a tracker so you can monitor where it is.. This can cost treble the normal price.

    Here too they have put the tape measure to use too, and if you buy a large birthday card for example, no bigger than A4 size, but if has a badge or something that sticks up and creates the width of it to increase, As they slide it through a paper thin slot.. Extra chargers are put on these here too, Even though our standard letter boxes are four times in width height..

    The thing is where they see they can make an extra £ or $ they will..

    Sorry you had all this hassle..

    Love and Hugs xx <3

  • Charli Mills

    Debby, this is crazy! Great story, though. You’ll all laugh and call me novice, but I thought it would be fun to give away ROCKS for Rodeo Fest! If books cost this sort of border gauging price, I can imagine how much fun I’ll have today at the post office with rocks going to Canada, the UK and Australia!

    I also attempted to send a book by a UK author to a South African reader via Amazon US, and that proved impossible, which greatly disappointed me because I thought we had a better global market for authors. Apparently not. And that’s not good news for us. I then tried to complete the transaction via a third party seller (which I need to better understand and have already queried the author to ask if she gets royalties from third parties). That resulted in an insane glitch at checkout — for a $12 book Amazon informed me that if I applied for a credit card my transaction could be $999,919.97 instead of $999,998.97!

    I’ve decided to pack rocks and books to go on a world-wide trip. It’ll cost less than postage!

    • dgkaye

      Wowwwwwwwwwww Charli! I love that you’re giving out (inspirational?) rocks! They do weigh more than books, so beware the cost of that too. And oh ya, beware those ‘third party sellers’ I’ve seen some astronomical prices going on with that. I don’t get involved with those.
      It’s like I said to the clerk in part of my rant as the lineup of people behind listened with ears perked, I told her the government greed is out of control, especially with the popularism of online shoppers. Stores are nowhere near as busy as they once were because so many order online, which in turn gives the postal system millions in more business with delivering these goods. So in turn for their busy service they hike prices and rape us with charges. Greed is everywhere. 🙁

  • lisa thomson-The Great Escape...

    Yes, and I learned this lesson a while back. It’s ridiculous prices at Canada Post. I almost think a private courier company may come back with a cheaper rate. Great post, Debby. Another author beware post that’s so helpful to all of us Canucks. 🙂 Good idea to send the book with your Brit friend.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Lis. It is brutal for us in so many ways as authors who publish in the U.S. Serendipity my British friend happened to be here when I found out the scary amount, lol. 🙂 x

  • Tina Frisco

    What a nightmare! Internat’l shipping rates for parcels here in the U.S. are just as outrageous. I couldn’t believe that my skinny little Gabby and the Quads book was going to cost $30 to ship to Ireland. I’d have given my eyeteeth to watch you haggle with that postal clerk 🙂 Nice of her to admire you as an author, though. We need to establish an internat’l authors union! 🙂 Thanks so much for sending off Vampyrie with your BFF, Deb. I’ve established an eternal endowment of hugs for you. Feel a big one now, my generous friend ?

    • dgkaye

      Lol T, thanks for your cheers! Yes, international shipping is dreadful for many of us, but North American shipping is outrageous within our own countries. A union sounds pretty good at this point, lol. Vampyrie is wrapped and ready to go off with her next week. <3 Hugs always welcome. xoxo

  • L. T. Garvin, Author

    Oh my goodness, Debby, this sounded like a nightmare! It also sounded like one of those Algebra problems where three books leave on a train at 9AM with attached bookmarks, how long would it take…. lol! I am very sorry that postage is like that in Canada. You are right, here in the U.S. we pay “book rate” which is cheaper, although I have to say some of my books were not that much cheaper to mail using it. I really wish they could address that for average writers, they could keep charging folks like Stephen King full price, ha ha.

  • reocochran

    Debby, I skip any extra postage and usually add $20 insurance to basic mail cost. Somehow the insurance helps make postal workers respect the repayment of any lost packages. ? This works when I am mailing but not when I am receiving from Amazon. I don’t want to promise a certain number of orders to get the free shipping so it comes “at a price!” ?
    I’m going to order one of your books! You’re on my (late) ? Fall reading pile! xo ?

      • reocochran

        I’m going to land in New Orleans and hang out for the day in the French Quarter. My college friend and first maid of honor lives in Long Beach, Mississippi from Nov – May.
        She moves up to Michigan, when sometimes I meet up in Cleveland where my family (siblings and Mom) lives. She graduated from a high school about fifteen miles from mine. We didn’t meet until freshman year of college. (We met my ex that same day. . . ?)
        I have visited her sister’s castle, up in Charlevoix which is truly magical and beautiful, fairy garden, toy and wedding dress collections, . . . I tell people it is better than Camelot. Patrice is my friend, Linda Mueller her sister and (husband Richard) live there during hurricane season. . .
        My friend is afraid of driving and not keen on big cities so I am arriving early on a Saturday in New Orleans.
        Funny that I haven’t flown for years but have had “travel adventures” to Atlanta to the Comicon Convention, to Providence RI for the annual Cliff Walk, deep sea fishing in Florida with a two year boyfriend. . .
        The airline flight will be fine, just cross your fingers for the car navigation from one area to another in my rental car. (Yikes! Let others know my car rental cost a lot more than the plane round trip!) Free place to stay at Pat’s, though. ❤

        • dgkaye

          Wow Robin.This is book material! I hope you have a great reunion! And if I may offer a handy tip I’ve learned from my travels – don’t rent a car from the airport! The fees are much higher because airport taxes are added on. The first time we went to Arizona we rented a car for a week at the airport and paid almost $700 for one week! I got smart and now we take a $10 taxi ride to the car rental near the condo we rent and pay $850 for the whole month!!! <3

  • blondieaka

    My thoughts are the same as yours Debby postage to and from Thailand is exorbitant as well…I can’t well don’t would be more apt use Amazon to buy anything as the cost to ship it here is generally 3 times or more the cost of the said article. Same at the post office…I have to rely on people bringing said articles with them when they visit and like you mine often take a roundabout route and end up very well travelled…lol..Within Thailand it is dirt cheap but going out or coming in…It should be spelt exorbitrant!

  • allan hudson

    The person at the desk, if a senior employee, probably makes $25 to $27 an hour with 8 weeks holidays and a heaping of benefits. Someone has to pay for the high wages. I sent three books from New Brunswick to the US and each one cost me almost $30.00. A Goodreads giveaway. Not sure if I’ll do it again. Enjoyed this post.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for chiming in Allan. I just about choked at the price you paid out east. This is what prevents me from doing paper giveaways. How can we afford to do these international promos from Canada. So unfair! 🙁

  • Stevie Turner

    Our postal services aren’t cheap either. With the increased use of emails, letters are becoming a thing of the past, hence the Post Office price rises trying to stay afloat. There are parcel services which do a cheaper job too.

    • dgkaye

      I know there is less paper mail, but so much online shopping that make up for more than the letter loss. And still what Sally paid to send to Canada was much less than half of what they’re charging here to the Uk 🙁 It’s greed I tell ya! 🙂

  • Jacqui Murray

    I ship books to Canada occasionally and had noticed it costs way too much. America’s Media Mail rates are wonderful for most books though I prefer the Priority Mail one-rate package for shipments to customers. That allows me to track them.

    I love these ‘Day in the Life of D.G. Kaye’ posts!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Terri. I thought of that, buying the booking and letting them send, but really it probably wouldn’t be much difference with shipping from US to UK and then converted to Canadian. It’s a major feat playing the workaround game for best deal on postage, lol. 🙂 x

  • robbiesinspiration

    I certainly understand your irritation, Debby. I have the same issue in South Africa with posting abroad and inward bound books take three months via our postal service and may never arrive as parcels frequently go missing.

  • jjspina

    I understand how you feel, Debby. I mailed a book to Ireland and it cost me $22.00 – more than the book was worth! I usually go by Media Mail which is cheaper but you cannot have anything else inside with the book. The USA will open any Media Mail that they think does not conform to the rules of only mail books by this mailing. Thank God for ebooks! They save us tons of money. Hugs xx

    • dgkaye

      Wow, thanks for sharing Janice. At least you guys have Media Mail, we don’t :(. You’re so right, when it costs 2 or 3 times the book that really hurts. 🙂 thanks for dropping by Janice. <3

  • Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

    You GO Deb! Truly, corporate capitalism seems to get more obnoxious every single day.

    But then I doubt many politicians have even READ a book since they were required by some teacher, so of course they aren’t concerned. As the populace continues to dumb down. CRAZY!
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

  • Annika Perry

    Debby, that is crazy prices!! ? I’m not surprised you held your ground to try and work out a cheaper alternative – and a good idea to get Tina’s book to the UK before it’s sent off to Ireland. Posting items across the Pond is expensive for us too – often much more than the value of the goods – what to do? On the up side, I’m smiling at the reaction to the assistant meeting a real author!! Yeah!! ??

  • Christy B

    The prices, ack! And Tina’s book was only .01 over the weight that took it to the next price jump? 🙁 I don’t blame you for snatching it back and giving it to your friend to take over to the UK back home. I’m often disappointed in how expensive things are to mail. And YES a cheaper rate for authors sending books sounds awesome. So they have that option in the US?

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Christy for chiming in. Yes! IN the US they have a ‘Media’ rate. Seriously cheap to send books. Why are we always so behind here? 🙂 <3

  • Jennie Fitzkee

    Author madness for sure! Ridiculous. Our U.S. book rate, or media rate, is sloooow delivery, and packages have often been tossed around. Still, that’s far better than the $$$.

  • elainemansfield

    Yes, author madness. I don’t ship outside the US and don’t think my publisher does either–or at least not very often. My paperback used to be (haven’t checked recently) available at Amazon in Europe, but I suggest people buy an electronic copy. I’ve bought a few e-books to reviewers. It’s been the easiest way. I can only imagine your frustrating scene of packing and repacking. It’s hard to keep a sense of humor about anything in this catastrophic world.

    • dgkaye

      So true Elaine, it’s getting a bit more difficult to keep a sense of humor, yet I remain trying. And ebooks are definitely the way to go for gifting. 🙂

  • olganm

    What a nightmare, Debby! Oh, when it’s not one thing, is another. Definitely everybody makes money out of our books but ourselves. Still, I’m sure Sally will love your books.

  • Natalie Ducey

    Oh my gosh, Debby, this is beyond frustrating! A few months back I spent over 30 minutes at the Post Office going through different scenarios. As soon as the item no longer fits through the magical “slot” it’s considered a package and we get nailed. And the ounces…oh my word!
    I can mail three copies of my first book in one envelop. But I can only mail two of my second book. Mix and match and I’m over by a few ounces.
    The struggle is real. Stay strong, my dear Canadian ally! 🙂

  • Darlene

    I remember the cost of mailing things in Canada. Many times I repackaged things to save some postage dollars. I tend to do everything online now and send books via Amazon which is free if you spend a certain amount. Also the Book Depository has free delivery all over the world. There are ways around it! Your story is amusing though.

  • Norah

    Sending anything anywhere from Australia is incredibly expensive too, Debby. I love to buy my books from the Book Depository. They post anywhere free. Otherwise, ebooks are a great choice – no postage. I am reluctant to buy anything from Amazon. Postage is usually at least the cost of the book again, sometimes twice as much, and it takes forever. It’s a good thing I chose ebook format for yours. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      It seems we both have the painful postage dilemma Norah. You’re the second person who mentioned Book Depository, I wasn’t aware of it before. I checked it out, they’re based in UK and deliver to 160 countries. I read 90% horrible reviews from customers living outside the UK and apparently extra charges outside the UK. Seems like I’m stuck as a ripped off consumer. No wonder there’s so much illiteracy in the world with the price of books and shipping charges. Indie authors are the only ones struggling to make a profit on our books because we have to sell them so cheap to draw new eyes in and compete with the trads. Sorry for the rant, lol. 🙂

      • Norah

        That’s interesting research on Book Depository, Debby. I haven’t checked any reviews. I’ve been using them for a few years now. They have always delivered free and promptly. The site does say free delivery worldwide.
        I appreciate the difficulty you must experience as an Indie author. I have a similar problem with my website. It must be tough to keep writing when marketing takes up so much time. I put my content first, but I really need to do more with marketing too. I don’t mind the rants. It’s not an easy life we choose. How do you get your books onto sites like Book Depository? Can you, or is it too difficult and costly?

        • dgkaye

          Writing books, content, social marketing, book promos, and reading a lot to keep up with the industry is enough without the website maintenance woes too Norah. Many don’t realize why there sometimes aren’t enough hours in a day. 🙂

  • Liesbet

    I’m so glad you point this out, Debby! Postage is crazy expensive and even in the US, the rates seem to be going up daily. I was going to send a paperback book to my friend in the UK. Shipping from the US to do so, was more expensive than ordering the book through the UK Amazon site and get it to her that way. Cheaper, and better for the author, since she sod another copy! We always do our research and try to get the best rates, but more often than not, I decide not to send the item, give it to visitors iike you are doing, or bring it myself back to Europe one day.

    And, at the other side of the spectrum… When we ship our products to customers, we charge the going rate and customers all complain… We don’t make anything on shipping costs. It is just very expensive, especially internationally. Then, they compare us – a tiny family business, barely making a penny, to Amazon. “If they can ship ‘for free’ why can’t you?” They ask… Yeah.

    • dgkaye

      Such valid points Liesbet! And really good idea when shipping to the UK, send it from Amazon UK! I”ll be you and I could brainstorm up many economical ideas if we had the time. 🙂

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