Safest Way to Ship Things?

I have to send some old magazines and photos to my publisher, for them to use in my next book. I offered them good copies or CD files, but, “we want to work from the originals.” And this time, they promised not to lose any (I am taking good copies myself before sending, just in case!).

Anyway, what is the safest way for me to send these halfway across the U.S.? Speed is not a factor, I don’t care how long it takes as long as they safely get there. U.S. Post? FedEx? UPS? 20 Mule-Team Borax?

Pony express?

Tell 'em NO.
Why are you even considering this, if they previously lost some? Didn’t they promise to take good care of them that time, too?

Tell 'em you’re sending good quality copies. If they really need to ‘work with the originals’, they are available at your house, in your presence, during the hours of 8am-5pm weekdays, and they are welcome to come there to work with them. Otherwise use the copies.

In my experience, FedEx is the best and safest way to get them there (or in these days of the necessary redunduancy, FedEx Express, not ground, which sucks). You may pay a bit more to ship them overnight or second day air, but I think it is the safest.

As in everything, however, there are no guarantees.

Good luck.

Sending things Priority Mail with delivery confirmation through the USPS is a good idea. You can track them on-line, and we haven’t lost anything yet.

It’s much cheaper than FedEx. The only downside is you have to go to a Post Office, but in the NYC/NJ area, that’s more of an inconvenience than a real problem.

I would be careful about sending them if they are irreplaceable. The local post office lost some one of a kind evidence that my employer sent as evidence backing their case. They won and the post office found it when moving out of the building a couple years later. That was the same place that I sent payments from, and in each case was lost.

The safest way is probably by hand, either schlepping them yourself, handing off to someone you trust, or using a courier service.

No delivery method can be absolutely guaranteed; FedEx and UPS can’t guarantee that their truck won’t be hijacked or their plane won’t crash and burn. Because they trace each package, if yours IS stolen or goes up in smoke they can tell you exactly what happened to it, but that doesn’t get it back.

The Post Office can provide the same traceability, signature requirement, delivery confirmation and other services as FedEx and such; you just have to pay for it. The highest USPS level of security is Registered Mail, followed by Certified Mail.

Personally, if I couldn’t take the originals myself, I’d tell the publisher to use good copies and like it. Especially if they’ve lost stuff before. They’re not running an art gallery, after all.

If the publisher wants very high quality repros, the world ( especially NYC, and other large cities ) are filled to the brimming with high-end repro outfits. Have the images scanned at outrageously high resolution, and have the DVD’s of said hi res images sent to the publisher.

Lacking that, I use FedEx for everything. Yeah, they do lose things but more often, things of declared value are stolen from FedEx, by an employee or some other such person. I have personal experience with this part of the deal.

Don’t note that they are insured for anything. Just pack em and send em. How many books and photos? What is their weight? It may well be worth it to protect them by sending them in a hard shipping case, with padding all around them, if they are quite delicate.


The safest method is a courier. But it will certainly cost substantially more. Who’s paying the expense; you or the publisher?

If the publisher has lost items previously, and refuses to work from copies, make them pony up the price for a courier.

Well, opinion seems pretty much divided between Post Office and FedEx, either of which is equally (in)convenient for me.

I will take good copies of all the photos myself before sending, so if they do get lost in transit or at the publisher, I’ll have back-up copies. They say they can get best reproduction results working from the originals, so I’m not going to second-guess their art/production dept., and I do want good reproductions in the book.

Where is your publisher? I know you’re in New York. There’s a slight chance you might find reliable Doper to volunteer to act as courier.

Doesn’t FedEx pick up? Or is that only for customers with an account?

A good digital prepress place will be operating with similar equipment to what your publisher will be using to scan your photos. Make an appointment and they might even be able to do it while you wait if the items in question are extremely valuable/irreplaceable to you. The more hands and steps in the process the more likely it is that your originals will be lost or damaged.

A second vote for Cartooniverse’s suggestion. Go get them scanned at 6,000dpi and burned on DVD’s If that isn’t good enough your publisher needs a new art department.

IIRC 6000dpi is tighter than the grain on standard photos and way tighter than any offset press color work will ever be.

I always thought so, too - FedEx is allowed to carry pretty sensitive information for my organization, which is pretty sensitive about sensitivity. However, about 3 months ago, I received an empty box that had obviously been resealed - nothing in it. Happily, as it turned out nothing was stolen (the contents was pretty damn sensitive and I felt pretty sensitive about it. We got the contents in the end, but it was terrifying that they had probably been keeping it on a shelf in open view for a while.

Without unreasonable disclosure, may I ask if they discovered the contents by x-ray or by reading the airbill.

I routinely ship gear valued upwards of $ 10,000.00. I do not put any info in the Info section, and it ships insured for nothing. Stuff like that is insured anyway, and the value line draws amoral employees like moths to a candle.

Since we’ve pretty much answered the question…

Warren Buffett recently faced this problem: how to send a stock certificate worth $11,000,000,000 to Wells Fargo. The solution he chose: have someone from his office hand-deliver it. Apparently he trusts FedEx, but not that much.


ONLY 11 Billion? And that was his solution?