Books are a forest and it’s hard to see the trees, except the tall ones or the old ones. But when you enter the forest, it’s the new growth that emits the sunlight....

Monday, November 17, 2014

On the US Post Office besides the whereabouts of The Wide Awake Loons

The Postmaster of the USPS has stepped down.  In September, the post office endured a cyber attack.  Information about employees was breached but the employees didn’t know about that until November.  At a local post office, I was asking about the threatened closure of Duluth, Minnesota’s mail processing  center when I learned about the cyber attack.  Ever since the advent of email, the post office’s financial woes have worsened.

I visit a post office on an average of four times a week.   My ebay score says that I’ve sent out at least 4000 packages but that’s probably half of it since the numbers refer to feedback.   Many of my packages are sent book rate.  

Although it sounds bad for the post office, I want to encourage people to use USPS for packages, especially now at Christmastime.   In all of these years, I have had only one domestic package lost.  That was a small package containing a sulfide marble and it was insured.  The marble was a little treasure however the value of it was returned in full.  I’ve had a few things break but that was early on and my packaging could have been part of the blame – sending a large print with a heavy frame and having the glass break.   I have had books sent media rate eaten by machinery, arriving with grease on the package and damaged.  That’s happened twice, I think.  What was insured was efficiently processed and the money came back.  Of course, media mail is inexpensive and that is the risk.

Considering those issues in 8000 cases, I think the USPS is an excellent service.

I had to complain about UPS.  Recently, I had a very large package ordered, and it weighed almost a hundred pounds.  To my shock, one UPS employee had to deliver that from the truck and up steps in our steep neighborhood.  I actually helped him.  The package had some outer damage by the time we accomplished this.

My recent conversation at the post office was leading to that.  The postal clerk informed that the USPS has a maximum weight of 70 pounds.  The UPS maximum is 150 but I would never have expected one person to deliver a parcel weighing more than 70 pounds.

I’ve long been frustrated with UPS.  That service was originally for businesses and for international package shipping.   UPS employees are not so familiar with particular buildings and houses.  They are not given keys to apartment buildings.  They deliver when people are at work and then they leave a note saying that you should be present to sign for your package.  They come back when you have to be at work.  Sometimes they don’t return during the time frame that they schedule.   I used to have UPS packages delivered to my workplace which solved everything – if it was okay with the workplace.  I even had a computer and monitor delivered there when I wasn’t quite sure that the boss would like that.

In my experience, USPS is totally adequate.  If I want to send something fragile or expensive, I insure it.  If the sender wants to know definitely that the receiver was the one to take the package, they can just fill out a slip to be signed.  I haven’t found much reason to switch to UPS, especially as it is usually more expensive.

Just a heads-up to share that although the USPS is having troubles, they are still very reliable.

The Wide Awake Loons is re-published and with illustration inside.  Silver Knight Publishing endured a crippling phishing attack last April, and since then, they have worked with reduced staff and offered authors a contract reverting rights to them.   I have re-published The Wide Awake Loons with my imprint Couchgrass Books.  The book is the same except for some minor editing.  Now it has illustration inside.

The book is available again in paperback at Amazon.  It is also a Kindle book.  It will be soon be available from Barnes & Noble and at Ingram's by January 15, besides other book sites.

Here are a few illustrations.  More are on the blog page Middle Grade.