Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do you accept hardcover books and magazines as well?

Yes, some of our recipients would like to receive hardcovers and/or magazines. However:

  • Deployed troops accept paperbacks only, due to space constraints.
  • Veterans and some VA Hospitals can accept both paperback and hardcover books.
  • If a troop or veteran would like magazines, you will see this listed next to their address.

    In addition, please do not purchase a magazine subscription for any of our recipients. In most cases, the troop or veteran will change addresses long before a magazine subscription will expire, frustrating everyone involved and wasting your money.

    2. How much does it cost to ship books?

    On average, a box of 20 paperback books will cost about $7 to ship. Volunteers should send shipments via Media Mail rate. One exception: Magazines cannot be sent via Media Mail because they contain advertising. We recommend you use a flat-rate Priority Mail box to send magazines. When mailing to deployed troops, you will NOT be paying International postage rates - military addresses have US zip codes and are considered domestic addresses by the US Post Office.

    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 Priority Mail. This means that your postage rate will be higher. If you're going to send a mixed package with lots of goodies, we recommend using a Flat-Rate Priority Mail box.

    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. DO NOT MAIL YOUR BOOKS TO OUR POST OFFICE BOX! For the 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 an 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 veterans who 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. You can also recycle unwanted books via Earth 911.

    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. Complete the address information on the customs form and write “used books” as the package contents. Check with the clerk at the window to be sure you have the right paperwork. There is a customs form available online, but we do not recommend using it because there is no way to select “Media Mail” as your desired shipping rate. The easiest way to handle customs forms, in our opinion, is to fill out the paper form at the Post Office and have the clerk assist you at the window.

    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 our volunteer shipping network delivers thousands books to troops and veterans every month, we receive many requests for specific titles or what we define as "high-demand genres" that are 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. Your monetary donation supports these projects.

    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 I have to fill troop requests exactly?

    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?

    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?

    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. Recipients 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.