Church Magazines Use Postal Discounts to Cut Costs
June 1984

“Church Magazines Use Postal Discounts to Cut Costs,” Ensign, June 1984, 79–80

Church Magazines Use Postal Discounts to Cut Costs

The latest in computer technology is helping Church magazines take advantage of the lowest possible postal rates to speed your copy of the Ensign, New Era, or Friend on its way to you.

Each month, about one-quarter of the half-million Ensigns printed for each issue leave the printing plant in Salt Lake City specially packaged for the United States Postal Service so they can go directly to local carrier routes, without further sorting. The operation involves some one hundred forty thousand Ensigns and is called Carrier Route Sequencing. Copies of the Friend and New Era similarly packaged add up to another one hundred forty thousand magazines.

This allows Church magazines to use the lowest second-class postal rate, said Theon Rigby, manager of Circulation and Subscription Fulfillment. Resulting savings are substantial. The magazines also take advantage of other available Postal Service discounts where Carrier Route Sequencing is not possible, he added.

A computer is the key to in-plant sorting of magazines for specific mail carrier routes throughout the United States, Brother Rigby explained. The computer master files are matched against tapes furnished by the Postal Service which contain carrier route information, and the magazines are assigned to carrier routes according to the subscriber’s address. The computer produces mailing labels for individual magazines, along with a large, eye-catching label to signal the start of each bundle destined for a particular carrier route. As magazines stream out of the bindery at the Salt Lake Printing Center, workers gather up individual bundles and put each bundle in a separate bag.

The bags of magazines are stacked on wooden pallets, wrapped in plastic, and placed in a semitrailer for transport to the post office. Because postal employees do not have to sort them, the magazines go at the lowest rate and get to local post offices sooner.

Under U.S. Postal Service regulations, there may be as few as six magazines in a bundle for a particular carrier route, Brother Rigby said, and if the bundle of magazines for a route weighs more than seventy pounds, it must be broken up into bundles of no more than seventy pounds each. The computer makes sure bundles meet these requirements.

The computerized sorting is currently being used for magazines going to Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada, where large Latter-day Saint populations make it possible to bundle magazines for many routes. If mailing lists show it is possible, computerized sorting will soon be used for magazines going to California, Oregon, and Washington.

Brother Rigby emphasized that while the Carrier Route Sequencing speeds mailing to areas where it can be used, every effort is made to get magazines to subscribers outside these areas as fast as possible. The Ensign, New Era, and Friend arrive at most homes in North America within a week after mailing. However, they must go by ship to England, South Africa, Australia, and other English-speaking overseas areas, where it may be five to eight weeks before they are in subscribers’ hands.

Occasionally, a magazine may arrive damaged. “We get an average of only seven complaints a month on damaged magazines, so we don’t think we have a big problem,” Brother Rigby said. But if readers call or contact the circulation office to report the damage, circulation personnel immediately send out another copy, in an envelope.

Address changes are no problem, Brother Rigby said. “We do a quarter of a million address changes a year. That is an average of one thousand address changes each working day.” Readers may simply call or mail them in. The address will be changed on the computerized mailing master file within two days. But if the magazine has just recently been printed and mailed, the change will not take effect until the next month’s mailing, he explained.

Subscribers who wish to report address changes or contact the magazine subscription offices may call (801) 531-2947 or write: Church Magazines, 50 East North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150, U.S.A.

After computer-prepared labels are automatically attached to the magazines, workers gather up individual bundles for different carrier routes.