[MAIL FORMAT SERIES] Meet the Booklet

Part of our direct mail format series where we guide you in uncovering the most effective format for your mail projects with stats and ideas. This one covers booklet mailers.




June 25, 2015

Part of our series where we seek to uncover the most effective formats for your specific marketing objectives.


The Booklet, Defined

A booklet is, simply put, a mini book. It is a bound, multi-page print piece commonly used for similar purposes as catalogs, such as displaying products and services or information. Just like with a book, catalogs are thicker than booklets, and usually larger in dimension.

Booklet sizes are between 3.5” x 5” and 6” x 10.5.”

They can be bound by a number of different methods including saddle-stitching, perfect binding, pressed glue, and more. To mail, the binding mechanism must be uniform to the thickness of the piece, which is why spiral bound pieces do not qualify as booklets.Booklet covers are required to be of at least 40# stock, and a minimum of 60# stocks for pieces longer than 9 inches, and the address panel must run parallel with a folded or bound edge. For unfolded booklets, three tabs are required to seal the pages: two on the leading edge, and one on the trailing edge (if you’re looking at your piece with its address block right-side-up, the leading edge will be on the right side and the trailing edge on the left).

Design Option

Oblong Booklets

The USPS can accept oblong booklets as long as the spine is on the leading edge. The piece must also be tabbed twice on the top edge and once on the trailing edge to make it machineable.

Folded Booklets

A common technique for mailing a booklet is to fold it in half. In a case like this where a booklet is folded, two tabs are required along the spine of the booklet, and one on the trailing edge. For a full explanation of tabbing requirements from the source: New USPS Booklet Sealing Requirements.

Using a Flap to Seal Your Booklet

You can skip the wafer seals and add a nice effect by applying a cover that is longer than the actual booklet, and folding the extra cover paper over the front of the booklet. Glue dots or strips would be placed under the flap created by the cover to seal the booklet closed.

Poly-Bagged or Enveloped

Another way to skip the wafer seals to maintain the quality of your booklet is to insert it in a poly bag or envelope. The downside to this is that the piece will incur flat mail rates. This may be worth it to you if you’d like your piece to evoke an exclusive feel, and have the added protection of an outer cover.

Best Uses for Booklets – B2B and B2C

The USPS developed what we know today as the booklet mailer in 2009 to encourage marketing industries away from what they called flat-size catalogs, or thin catalogs, which were difficult for them to process. Marketers were finding themselves in a tough spot, having enough products and services for the need for a catalog, but not quite enough for the full size of a catalog. Booklet mailers were the perfect solution.

Finding their definition between a catalog and a self-mailer, booklets provide more space for marketers to explain their message and showcase products than a self-mailer while avoiding full blown catalog postage and production costs. Some reasons you might consider sending a booklet:

  • Small number of products/services – Perhaps your products and/or services are small in number, and a booklet would suffice to display the full gamut. They serve as an encompassing marketing piece powerful when sent through the mail and as a leave-behind.
  • Targeting – Instead of (or after) sending your 200 page catalog to your whole database, you might consider honing in on particular audiences’ interests or needs and send them a booklet version of just that.
  • Lead nurturing – A booklet could be a great opportunity to elaborate on your company story, away from the prices and products provided in your catalog. This gives you the extra space to speak to your recipient’s pain points, and explain why your services are their top choice.
  • Specialty or seasonal items – If you have product lines that are seasonal, you won’t want to reprint your full catalog when those items have sold out. Instead, you could consider printing your full catalog, but keeping your seasonal items to a separate, supplemental booklet. This gives you a chance to work in seasonal and timely promotions as well.

Why You Shouldn't Send a Booklet

  • Only to save the money you’d spend on a full catalog – Firstly, you’ll be trying to cram together your whole catalog into a small number of pages. Secondly, “cheap” is not an objective—results The choice on your mail format should be made based on what will garner the most responses and ultimately sales.

Finding the right format for your marketing piece is about understanding your objective: if you’re trying to give your recipients just enough information to chew on while leading them toward a purchase, booklets might just be your #1 choice in format for your mail campaign.

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