Helped a customer ship some books to a person in prison & I don’t know if folks who don’t work in bookstores/don’t have incarcerated friends/family are familiar with how difficult prisons make this process. So for Independent Bookstore Day, let’s walk through it.
First off, it (mostly) cannot be sent from an individual, has to be a store and many stores straight up don’t do this. I don’t know why. The books have to be new in most cases, which is expensive.
The books have to be limited in quantity, it is inconsistent from facility to facility and even within a single facility. For instance, this customer thought she could send 4. But as it turns out, particular areas can only have 3 whereas others can have 4. Arbitrary.
She had checked and double checked but they don’t make it easy. Official, not handwritten packing slips/receipts have to be included with every single thing, you have to send a box that looks or is new not reused, you have to make sure there is ample ID to show you’re a business.
The books cannot be of a certain type, books often do not reach the intended party if they Look Bad. What does that mean? Yeah it’s intentionally vague. The customer chose books in part based on this, hoping they wouldn’t be profiled and withheld from their intended recipient.
The mailing label needs to be printed and not written, needs to have the business name and address not a persons name, needs to use a shipping program that allows you to input the necessary info. Some don’t. Including some ‘direct to home’ shipping services.
So if all of this is in place: a person who can afford new books, the time to buy them, the energy to have all the necessary info like how many books can I send even though this info is not made easy to find, and you have to hope the store will even send them in the first place.
People outside can walk up to a store, can call, can email, can request the exact books they want and more often than not we can get them. People who are incarcerated are largely at the whims of the guards picking up and distributing the mail.
The customer just wants this package to reach its intended party, as anyone would. It’s a birthday present.
Dang y’all, thank you for sharing this info.
Ok this is very intense sharing lol! Thank you for engaging, for info on orgs, there are so many in the comments & I really appreciate that. Please know that if you came in hot talking about criminals this that, rules for a reason & the other please know I’ve muted you with love