Eligibility for Media Mail Prices
Updated June 2014
This Customer Support Ruling discusses the eligibility of computer-readable media at the Media Mail prices.
Manual (DMM) (DMM) 273.3.2i* provides that computer-readable media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media may be mailed at Media Mail prices.
Media Mail, or “book rate,” as it was formerly known, was initially designed in 1938 to provide lower postal prices for the mailing of books. From the beginning of Media Mail, the policy behind this classification has been to encourage the flow of educational materials through the mail. As technology developed and the means of disseminating information changed, Congress expanded the Media Mail classification gradually to include such material as films.
While video games may be read on computers, unlike books or films eligible for Media Mail prices, which predominantly further educational or informational goals, games, including board games and games in an electronic format, are used primarily for entertainment and they do not serve the same purpose as books, films, or other qualifying Media Mail. In 1984, in creating the computer-readable media classification, the then Postal Rate Commission (PRC) stated “a review of the historical background of the special fourth-class (Media Mail) mail subclass demonstrates that the purpose of this favored subclass is to promote ‘educational, cultural, scientific, and informational values’ (39 U.S.C. sub-section 3622(b)(8)) and indicates that at intermittent points in time, this subclass has been enlarged to include technologically newer methods of disseminating information. The Postal Service’s proposed changes continue this process by recognizing that computer-readable media …contain information similar to those already eligible to be mailed at special fourth-class rates and further the same goals.”
In conclusion, video games, whether on CD-ROM, diskettes, or similar software, regardless of form, or playable systems including computers, do not meet the standards for Media Mail. In addition, storage devices such as “portable hard drives,” "thumb drives," "flash drives," "jump-drives" and "USB drives” for use with computers are also not eligible for Media Mail prices. Qualifying computer-readable media may contain no advertising except when provided for by standard, e.g. incidental announcements of other books with books in a computer-readable format.
* See also DMM 173.4.1i