"On behalf of the men and women who serve on Fort Irwin and at the National Training Center, we would like to thank you for your thoughtful donation of books to our small station library. The books are a very welcome donation that will be enjoyed by our servicemembers and their families who serve at this very remote location. "Read more notes...
By: Stephanie L. (American Red Cross, Fort Irwin, CA)
Left on 06/07/2011
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you accept hardcover books and magazines as well?
Yes, we accept all types of reading material. However, please email us directly when you have a non-paperback donation because we have specific addresses that will accept these special shipments. Our deployed troops and our veterans hospitals have limited storage space, and so we ask you not to send hardcovers to those addresses. However, our military families are able to take hardcover books, and would be very grateful for them. To obtain an address for your hardcover books, please log in to the website and request a Military Family Address. (And remember to use Media Mail Rate to send them!)
2. How much does it cost to ship books all the way to Afghanistan?
Surprisingly little. We encourage all volunteers to send their shipments via Media Mail. On average, a box of 20 paperback books will cost about $7 to ship. If some badly-trained clerk tells you that Media Mail cannot go to a military mail address, please ask for a supervisor. We have had many a volunteer duped into paying more for postage than necessary. Just don't put non-media items into your box (books, music, software, DVDs are all allowed).
3. Can I send things other than books in my shipments?
Sure, you are welcome to insert items like hard candy or a deck of playing cards into your shipment. However, your shipment will have to go Parcel Post or some other shipping class other than Media Mail. This means that your shipment costs will be higher. If you're going to send a mixed package, we recommend using a Large Flat-Rate Priority Mail box and loading it up with plenty of stuff ($13.45 for any weight going to an APO/FPO address if you take it to the post office).
4. Does Operation Paperback have a physical location where I can drop off my books?
Nope, sorry! We run our organization online, which helps keep costs low. Please do not mail your books to us at our post office box. Your package will be rejected. For the exact same amount of postage, you can send those books directly to a member of our military! So sign up as a volunteer, read your orientation package, and login for a military address. It's that simple!
5. You say no romances, but I received a whole bunch of romance novels as donations. What do I do with them?
First of all, check with us to see if we have troops or military family members that are requesting romance novels. If you cannot send the romance novels through our program, we recommend checking with a local nursing home or hospital to see if they will accept your donation. If they're not interested (or if they were the ones who donated the books to you in the first place), there is always the option to recycle! Visit Earth 911 to look up local recycling centers that will take your books. You can get rid of these books with a clear conscience knowing you're helping our planet!
6. Do I have to fill out a customs form? I thought military mail was considered domestic shipping?
Yes, you must fill out a customs form because your box is physically leaving US shores. However, military addresses receive mail at a domestic rate. If you're shipping a box of 20 or so books (our recommended size), you will probably fill out the big white customs form. If you're sending a smaller package, you may fill out the smaller green form. Check with the clerk at the window to be sure you have the right paperwork. You may also use the USPS online customs form.
7. I see that Operation Paperback accepts monetary donations, but you tell people to mail books themselves directly to our military. I'm confused...
While Operation Paperback relies heavily on its volunteer shipping network to deliver books to troops, veterans and military family members, we receive hundreds of requests a year for specific titles or what we define as "high-demand genres" that must be shipped by our volunteer staff. In addition, we have a steady stream of special projects where Operation Paperback purchases and ships books in bulk in support of military missions.
8. What kind of books should I send?
Bestsellers, action and spy-novels, murder mysteries, fantasy and science fiction --- those are our most popular genres. However, we also have many requests for business and investing books, classics, history (especially military history), and current event-oriented non-fiction.
9. Do the troops tell you what kind of books they want to receive?
Troops are told that our boxes include a variety of good quality fiction. However, they are given the opportunity to indicate the genres they would like to receive. Our address list indicates troop preferences so you can tailor your shipments. However, we do encourage that you send a good variety of books in your box. The books are always shared among many!
10. Why does the address list have an expiration date? Does this mean these troops are coming home?
Address lists have an expiration date because we want to distribute the most up-to-date information to our volunteers. Troops move around a lot, their addresses change, some do come home, and some troops get more books than others. To make sure that the troops with the greatest needs get books and our volunteers don't send books to someone who is heading home (thereby wasting precious postage money), we constantly update our database. The lists expire in a two-week window so that volunteers will receive the most up-to-date information from us when they're ready to mail.
11. I wasn't able to send books to everyone on the list that you gave me. I feel bad. Will these individuals not get anything from Operation Paperback?
Most troops receive books through our program throughout their deployment and veteran’s facilities stay on with us as long as they would like to receive shipments. So if you cannot send books to everyone on our list, don't feel bad. Those who have not received anything will appear on another outgoing list. We keep track of all outgoing shipments. This helps us distribute books evenly over the hundreds of recipients on our list. The vast majority of our troops and veterans receive multiple shipments from our program.
12. I didn't get a thank you note back. Does this mean my shipment was not received?
If your box didn't bounce back, there's a 99% chance it reached its intended recipient. Our troops are pretty busy people. Unfortunately they cannot send a thank you note to each shipper. When we receive a note that is directly addressed to one of our volunteers, we forward it along to the email address provided in our volunteer records. Very often we receive general "thank you to Operation Paperback" notes. All of these thank you notes (along with copies of the personal acknowledgements) are posted our web site.