Having a proper shipping charge formula for the sales site has been a vexing problem since Day 1.

In the early days, in building our database, I neglected to fill-in item weights. That oversight haunted me for years; the chore of back-filling thousands of item weights into the database was more work than I ever wanted to tackle.

Without item weights, the best way I could formulate shipping was per item, based on an average “1-lb book”. While this worked out well for most orders, many items fall outside this average. There is quite a bit of difference between a Traveller “Little Black Book” and a 7-lb wargame.

Amazon recently changed the way it handles shipping for third party media items, dropping the old $3.99 flat, every item, charge in favor of seller-customizable matrix.

Prompted by this, I imported Amazon’s item weights into my database. That took about 30 minutes. However, I’ve spent the last 3 days running subsets, looking for outliers and errors in Amazon’s numbers (which are frequent), and correcting hundreds of database entries.

Now most errors are non-issues. If a book has a recorded weight of 5 ounces, and actually weighs 8, that’s close enough for our use. It will make little difference in shipping charges. But many were zero, or way off, and I corrected those in our database.

One error was so bad, I submitted an error ticket with Amazon Seller Support, and got it fixed on their site. They had Dungeon Magazine #97 at 12 pounds (It’s actually about 14 ounces).

What all this is leading to, is that Weight-based shipping is now live on our sales site. Details here:
Of course, orders over $50 still ship free in the USA.