A basic overview of why the magazine does not get to everyone at the same time:
I can’t count the number of times we have had this complaint: “I haven’t received my issue yet. The hobby shop/friend/or other reader has received their copy or copies, and I have not gotten mine yet. What gives?”
We did a test when we had Plastic Fanatic years ago, when we used to mail the magazine from our house, using our bed as the distribution/sorting table.
It comes down to The Power of Six.
If there are less than six magazines that go to the same post office periodical drop zone (“PDZ”), then they get bundled together with all the other less than six copies/subscribers, and then sent to the main sorting station, which there are usually only one or two per state.
Then they get sorted out and hand placed with other slow boat pieces, like those bulk mail junk mail pieces every one gets.
If there are six or more, they go to the the nearest PDZ, which there is in almost every city or town. Then they get to your door quickly.
Does this make sense?
We mapped it out once and did a zone by zone analysis, which is how we ended up with our Power Of Six theory.
The local Post Office agreed, but they wouldn’t say so on paper or email.
Also note, these are own phrases/descriptions, the 4,000 pound mailing manual may call it something else.
And then a note from my friend, Tom Geiger:
USPS Mail gets bundled as follows:
3 – All mail going to the same sorting center, that has the same first three digits. In the zip code 07730, 077 is the sorting center. It’s gotten a bit more compact in the last few decades as they eliminate sorting centers, but they’ve stuck with the 3 digits.
C – CITY – All mail going to the same city that has multiple zip codes
S – STATE – All mail going to the same state
D – DEPARTMENT – All mail going to the same zip code (your power of 6) – actual regulation says 15 or more pieces, but may be less for magazines
F – FIRM – All mail going to the same company location
So as you said, a bundle of mail going to the same zip code gets there in one step. Other mail can go through several sorts and steps per the list above. Each step can take some time, but they’re pretty fast these days since most sorting is now automated.
When the mail does make it to the final zip code, they have a period of time to deliver it. Some skids are marked “Deliver By 11/12/19” which would be time sensitive sales flyers and the like. I don’t know the current time frame magazines need to be delivered by.
The carriers sort their regular mail into their bins in the morning. If they have additional time, they are supposed to go to the mountains of bulk mail and sort as much into their route as they can. They start with the expiring “Deliver By…” stuff. And that’s why you get a ton of flyers and junk in Saturday’s mail… it’s expiring and needs to be delivered.