Most of the people who are getting ready to move out of their homes don’t always stick a High Priority label to the job of packing books. Such an obvious underestimation may be the direct result of 1) people having too many things on their minds to worry about packing and moving their books, 2) people thinking that packing books for a move is the easiest move-related task in their calendars, and 3) people owning too few books to really be intimidated by the book packing job ahead of them.
While it’s true that to pack books when moving house is relatively easier than to pack kitchen plates and glasses for a move, you still need to know the basic book packing principles and safety rules to prevent any damage to your favorite reads and prolong the shelf life.
Moving house is a notoriously chaotic period in life when even seemingly simple tasks can go terribly wrong. The next 10 simple steps will show you the best way to pack books for moving.
Step 1. Optimize your book collection
Books cannot be broken easily like kitchen plates or glass vases, so what’s all the fuss about packing and moving books? Well, when packed together in a box, books become super heavy and that weight alone can cause a number of problems for you on moving day.
A single book page is almost weightless, one book is not really heavy, get 5 books together and things are starting to feel differently. Cram 10 books in one tight place and you’ll understand why moving books could prove to be harder than you expected. And since the final moving price will be based primarily on the move distance and the total shipment weight, you should seriously consider lowering that overall weight any way you can.
Do you really need to take all the books you own? First and foremost, go through your book collection one by one and select only the copies you must have with you at all costs – prized collections, favorite books and gifts from dear friends will surely make it to your new home.
Step 2. Sort and group your books
Time can kill the value of books – either literally or figuratively speaking, or maybe even both. You may find out that some of your books have been seriously damaged with time, especially if they have not been properly stored. Other copies may have lost the original worth they had when you first bought them. Either way, it’s time to sort out your books into two large piles: TAKE and LEAVE BEHIND.
Below, we’ll give you great tips for packing books when moving house (the TAKE pile) but let’s first say a few words about what you should do with the LEAVE BEHIND stack.
- Gift to friends or donate to charities any books you won’t ever need again but are still worthy of being read by other people. Where to donate used books? Check whether local libraries, hospitals, schools, nursing homes or charity shops will be willing to take the books you’re not taking with you.
- Consider recycling any paper copies that are too worn out, damaged or worthless to be enjoyed by anyone but your local recycling center.
Don’t forget to group the books you’re moving by size so that they can fit nicely into the boxes.
Step 3. Get proper supplies for packing
Even though packing books for a move may not the toughest job in your packing calendar, you’re still going to need the right packing materials to keep harmful damage away from your favorite reads. To finish your task quickly and to avoid time-wasting interruptions, get your hands on:
- Book boxes. These cardboard boxes are not any special type of moving containers – rather, they just happen to meet 3 major requirements: 1) they are strong because they are made of thick cardboard, 2) they are small boxes with usual dimensions of 20’’ x 11’’ x 11’’ (medium-sized boxes should also do fine), and 3) they are perfectly clean, dry and free of any signs of pre-existing damage.
- Packing paper. You’ll need clean and soft packing paper in order to pack valuable books, as well as to use as effective separators between rows of books already arranged in boxes.
- Newspapers. Newsprint is the ideal filling material – abundant and free of charge.
- Packing tape. Get at least 2 rolls of high-quality packing tape as it will be used for additional reinforcement for book boxes as well.
- A marker pen. Label your packed boxes properly to make things easier for you upon arrival in your new home. /How to label your moving boxes like a pro/
Step 4. Prepare book boxes for increased efficiency
Before you can begin placing the already sorted and grouped books into cardboard boxes of the right size, let’s list the steps you need to take to make sure the moving containers are 100% ready for use. The main things to consider when preparing the cardboard boxes you’ll use to transport your books are:
- Take a closer look at the boxes you plan to use for transporting your books – inspect each book box carefully and make sure none of them is damp or has holes, tears or other signs of excessive wear. Remember that books are too heavy to be moved in largely unreliable packing boxes.
- Apply an extra layer of packing tape to the bottom of each book box to ensure that no moving container will break under the considerable weight. Also, use tape to reinforce all side seams of the cardboard boxes too.
- Place a couple of clean sheets of packing paper on the bottom of each container to serve as an initial insulating layer.
Step 5. Learn how to pack books for moving
The next easy steps will teach you how to pack books in moving boxes so that you won’t have any accidents during the move itself. Ultimately, you will want to open up the boxes after arriving in your new house or apartment and find the books exactly the way you have packed them.
First of all, valuable books should be wrapped individually in soft packing paper. If you happen to own a few books of great sentimental value, you must keep them with you during the entire move.
- The good news is that you can choose among 3 different ways to arrange your books in the boxes: upright, flat and spine down.
- Upright. Arrange the books standing upright so that their open parts are facing the box sides. This is the way you would usually see books neatly arranged on bookshelves. Do not pack books with their open sides facing the inside of the book box.
- Flat. This is a very safe way of packing books in moving boxes – you just stack them along the box sides. Don’t forget to place the heavier copies first and then arrange the lighter ones on top of them.
- Spines down. This is the least recommended way to pack books in a box but if you decide to use it for some reason, always arrange the books with their spines facing the bottom of the moving container. Don’t do it the other way round as you risk damaging the bindings of your books forever.
- Select the book packing method that seems the quickest and easiest for you, and then stick to it until the end.
- Avoid arranging books too tightly one next to the other as that could cause you to damage a copy while you’re trying to take it out upon arrival.
- The moment you finish packing one row, place a couple of sheets over the books and start a second row of books if the box allows it. The main idea is to always try and keep the pages of different books from touching in a direct way.
- When you’re done packing books for shipping, fill any large gaps inside the box with crumpled pieces of newspaper to ensure no printed works move inside the container during the trip.
- Place one final sheet of clean packing paper on the very top, then close the lids of the book box and tape it securely.
- Use your black marker to label the boxes you’ve already packed – write BOOKS and the destination room.
Step 6. Pack books in a suitcase
Using strong cardboard boxes to pack books for moving is the classic approach that won’t go out of fashion anytime soon – it’s the book packing method that people automatically think of whenever they are forced to transport their book collections to a new address. However, packing books in moving boxes has two major disadvantages: 1) the cardboard containers are still susceptible to damage and 2) the book-filled boxes need to be either carried around in hands or wheeled out by being stacked on a moving dolly which will additionally make things more laborious and time-consuming.
What if you could use a much stronger and bigger moving container equipped with its own wheels? Actually, you can. If you own a travel suitcase with wheels at the bottom, then take full advantage of it by filling it with the heaviest books you can find in your TAKE pile. To pack books in a suitcase is pretty easy and quite straightforward – you don’t even have to label it once you’re ready.
Step 7. Follow the safety rules
Knowing how to pack books when moving house is all about keeping the main safety tips in mind. Remember that books can still be ruined if you fail to follow some basic rules for packing books for a move:
- Keep the weight of a single book-filled box under 40 pounds. Again, books are heavier than you think.
- Use small to medium sized boxes for packing books properly.
- Always double-tape the seams of book boxes as a precaution, even if those containers are brand new.
- Always place the heaviest books on the bottom of a cardboard box.
- Use extra care when packing valuable books /antique books or rare books/ – it’s best if you wrap them up in soft packing paper and transport them yourself in a special prized-collection-of-first-editions box.
Despite these great tips for packing books for moving, if you still have doubts that you will manage to pack and move your books on your own, then have professional packers and movers take care of your book collection for you.