U.S. Postal Service
A court order Friday will probably mean higher postage costs than expected for publishers next year. But postage rates might actually decrease for a brief period this summer before rising again.
Welcome to what might become known as The Season of Roller Coast Postal Rates.
The Postal Service today announced that, in response to concerns raised by the Alliance, it has reduced the large price increases it had previously proposed for light weight, low advertising magazines, primarily published and mailed by nonprofits. Nonprofit mailers are urged to contact their mail service providers for a recalculation of the impact of this change on their Periodicals rates. USPS also announced that all new rates, if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, will go into effect on May 31.
A slow appeals court, delays in the usual inflation-based rate increase, and the end of the exigent surcharge could converge to create a wild ride for postal rates during the next few months.
Rather than the usual, once-a-year increase, rates might go up, down, or do a loop-the-loop and barrel roll before the summer is over. No one planned it this way. In fact, the plans and expectations of everyone involved seem to have gone awry.
Although the April postage hike for Periodicals will supposedly average only 1.4%, some publishers are learning that their increases will be 10 times that amount. The biggest rate increases will probably hit relatively lightweight publications that contain little or no advertising, such as weekly magazines and association newsletters. Some other publishers, however, will probably see lower postage bills.
Because of a calculation error, the average postal rate increase for magazines in April will be less than originally announced.
The Postal Regulatory Commission, which spotted the error last week, calculates that the average increase for "Outside-County" Periodicals (primarily magazines, with some newspapers and newsletters) will be only 1.34%, not the originally announced 1.965%. USPS acknowledged the error on Wednesday.
The slip-up came in creating an apples-to-apples comparison of the current rules and rates to the new ones.
It sounds like a small price increase, but the new rates could have large implications for publishers, marketers, printers, and even paper mills.
Nearly three weeks after the U.S. Postal Service proposed hiking most postal rates, mailing experts and regulators can't figure out what the proposal means.
Agreeing with a coalition of mailers' groups that USPS's filing was incomplete for all but First-Class Mail, the Postal Regulatory Commission on Monday extended the discussion period on the proposed April 26 rate increases for "market-dominant" mail classes.
Just in the nick of time, the U.S. Postal Service filed price increases averaging nearly 2% late Thursday on most mail except Forever Stamps.
The Postal Regulatory Commission marked receipt of the filing as 4:07 p.m., less than an hour before closing. If USPS had waited until Friday morning, the December 2014 Consumer Price Index would have been factored into the calculation of the inflation-based cap on postage increases -- perhaps lowering the cap because of plummeting gasoline prices that are leading to deflation.
When glancing at my article in the current issue of Publishing Executive, I had a revelation: Now that one of the publishing industry's leading magazines had called on me for predictions, I've graduated from blogger to media pundit.
And then my heart sank as I realized I had violated a cardinal rule of the International Order of Pompous Media Pundits: In its six-plus years of existence, Dead Tree Edition had never published a year-end list of predictions for the coming year.
OK, fellow publishing fans, you can't be ready to face this new year without understanding what happened in 2014. Here are the 10 words (yes, "magazine media" and "native advertising" are single words) that summarize the year that just was, along with links that provide further information:
The December Issue Publishing Executive featured the re-launch of the Top 20 Magazine Printers, a ranking that lists the largest printers in the U.S. and Canada by revenue. To accompany that ranking, we interviewed top printing executives to find out how the printing industry has changed and the issues they think publishers should be most mindful of in the future. Printing experts shared insights on custom publishing, automated workflows, and the importance of high-quality print content. The Q&As we published in the December issue were just snapshots, but following you'll find the full-length interview with Paul Bozuwa, president and COO of Dartmouth Printing Company at The Sheridan Group