i shipped all my stuff from NYC to cali via UPS ground. It was sort of expensive, but considering i shipped about 16 boxes and they were all between 25-55lbs, I didn't think it was too bad. (I spent a little more than $500, but I was literally shipping my whole 1bd apartment and all my damn clothes). And they came to my door and picked up all my stuff at my apt bldg (but admittedly it was an elevator bldg so it was easy for them), which was nice and convenient. I will say though,that even though you give them a window of like noon-3pm to come by, they actually have till 7pm to get to your place so you end up spending the whole day waiting around.
I would second the idea of shipping books, dvds, cds, etc via media mail through the regular post office. It takes about 2 weeks to get to california but it's really inexpensive. You'd just have to haul it all to the post office. But it cuts down on costs since they're so heavy.
Oh for UPS I just created an online account and scheduled all my pick-ups on the website. The only drawback is that you don't see how much you're going to be spending until after you input your credit card and pay. There's probably a rate chart on the website but i never looked it up.
Hmm.. I think those are all the bits of wisdom I can pass on. But let me know if you have questions!