At a time when the USPS is facing severe cuts and the Postmaster General is talking about introducing scaled rates depending on location, Danny Caine, owner of the Raven bookstore, in Lawrence, Kansas makes a clear case for the importance of the Post Office to bookstores:

I recently did an experiment: I used my bookstore’s postage software to generate three quotes for shipping the same hardcover book to the same address. I knew how it would end up, but the results still shocked me. FedEx Home Delivery: $14.03. UPS Ground: $23.87. USPS Media Mail: $2.94. The results of my experiment are a clear reminder that without the United States Postal Service, independent bookstores have little chance of making it. The USPS enables the innovations indies need to survive.

According to the office of the USPS inspector general, lower rates for educational materials originated in “the first federal postal policy, which recognized that disseminating newspapers at below-cost postage would advance the important social goal of educating the electorate.” … So Media Mail is more than just a cheap book rate; it’s the government’s show of confidence in the importance of well-read, well-informed citizens…

…Part of the magic of the USPS is that individuals don’t have to negotiate rates. The USPS is required by law to offer the same rates to every person and address in the United States. Rather than think of the USPS as a business that needs to turn a profit, let’s treat it as the essential government service that it is.