Pack books

A Complete Guide to Packing Books for Mailing


While books aren’t exactly fragile, they still need to be packaged well to survive shipping without damage. Kraft paper and tape alone are not enough, and neither are padded envelopes for hardcovers. This is how you pack books for shipping so that they arrive exactly as they were sent.

Clean the book.

If the cover is uncoated paper, you may be able to remove the dirt with an eraser, but be careful. If the dust jacket or paper cover is shiny, dirt and streaks can be removed by spraying some window cleaner onto a paper towel and gently rubbing the cover. Be careful not to get any detergent on the sides. Sometimes all you need is a slightly damp cloth. Allow the cover to dry for a moment before packing it up. Lighter fluid can remove stubborn stickers from glossy covers—soak the sticker for 20 seconds or so, then peel it off—but note that lighter fluid is harmful to skin. Be careful and wash your hands afterwards.

Protect the packaging from moisture.

When the cover is dry, wrap the book(s) in plastic in case the book is exposed to any kind of moisture along the way. The plastic sleeve that magazines come in is the right size for most books. Put the book in a bag, fold the top over and seal with packing tape. Don’t stick too much. Just use enough to tape the edges (it’s annoying when the recipient has to cut yards of tape to get at the book). Then wrap the book in air foil for extra protection.

Add a letter or card that you want the recipient to receive.

To send it as a book mail, follow the book rules, don’t add any personal letter or things unrelated to the book, otherwise, you will have to pay higher postage. Send a card separately and tell the person that a book will arrive separately (the card usually arrives earlier). In other countries, ask the post office for advice. If you are not including a commercial packing slip, write an additional shipping label to include inside the box in case the original label becomes damaged, torn off, or otherwise becomes illegible.

A paperback can be mailed in a padded envelope.

A box is always the best packaging, especially for a valuable book or one that has moral value to you or the recipient. However, paperbacks don’t have the folds and corners that hardcovers have, so they’re easier to mail in envelopes than they are.

Use a box that is larger than the book.

For hardcovers, use a box that’s slightly larger than the book.

Freshen up a reused box.

If you reuse a box, you can decorate it by turning it over. Find where the box is glued together. It’s usually just an edge. You can open these with a butter knife, turn the box over and tape it back together.Voilà! You have a nice clean box. If you want to reuse a box but can’t or don’t want to turn it over, cross out the old addresses and labels with a bold marker, or stick labels over them.

Glue the bottom.

When shipping books, don’t just snap the box together to save on tape. That is not sure. . Fold in the small side flaps, then close the large flaps so they meet perfectly and tape the seam with packing tape. Stick lots of tape up the sides of the box, which will strengthen it. Gluing the flaps instead of just folding provides more security for the package and keeps the book in better shape.

Add packaging material.

Put the box down with the lid open. Line the inside with packing material – Styrofoam, bubble wrap, crumpled plastic bags, or newspaper as a last resort (newspaper is quite heavy and makes shipping more expensive).

When the bottom of the box is filled, place it (wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap) on top of the packaging material.

Fill in the space around the book, then fill the box to the top. The book should stay securely in the middle and not slip around.

Can the book still slip?

The key is to close the flap when you’re done packing, but don’t tape it shut yet. shake the box; If you can feel movement or a sound, add more packing material until the box is wrapped so you can’t feel any movement inside. This protects the book from damage no matter how the box is handled.

Write the address on it or put an address label on it before sealing the box.

Write with a ballpoint pen so the address doesn’t smear if it gets wet, then cover the address or label with clear packing tape.

Tape the box shut.

Tape the top seam with a long piece of tape, then tape the side edges to make the box more stable.

Take the package to the post office.

Ask for the best shipping rate, but also compare the cost of registered and insured mail, especially if what you’re sending is valuable in case it gets lost or damaged. If you want to be smart, ask the counter clerk the difference between sending books and express mail. If you can mail it as a book mail, you’ll save a lot of money!


Double-wrap books. Pack them neatly in a box, repeating with spacing between boxes. You can also use bubble wrap around the corners to protect the box of books. The book should arrive undamaged. Damage usually occurs at the corners of hardcover books, which can become bent (or creased, as they say in bookstores). The book should be packaged in such a way that only the box can be damaged, not the book itself. Many commercial bookstores have separate packaging materials that they will provide if you ask nicely. Ask for more than you need and keep the rest in a bag so you can take it out if you need to ship something. Another cheap option is to fill the gap with crumpled plastic grocery bags. For small books, expedited postage is often about the same as book mail, and it can be worth expressing. The books arrive much sooner but with less time to get damaged en route. Ask the postal worker if the package can be sent as a parcel or letter to save money. There are size and weight restrictions here. Find out about postage fees. Before packing, you can do this on a postage comparison page.


If you’re selling books online, make sure the buyer doesn’t have any complaints. It’s not the Post’s fault if the book arrives damaged if the sender didn’t pack it properly. Box shipments can take over two weeks, which means two weeks of picking up, dropping, or stacking with dozens of other heavy boxes. If you printed mailing labels with a barcode, you don’t need to cover it with tape or the code may be more difficult to scan. However, if your decal is printed on plain white paper, it may tear off along the way, so you should cover the entire decal with clear tape. You can request delivery confirmation for an additional charge. You will then receive a receipt with a long number that you can enter in the Tracking section of the Post website. For example, with Delivery Confirmation, if you sent her one, you can tell your aunt when the package was delivered, and she can ask her family what they did with it. Delivery confirmation also prevents dishonest people from saying they never received the package.


About the Author

Dylan Roberge

Dylan Roberge is a San Francisco-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience covering money saving and deal hunting. Before going freelance, he got his start as an editor at Yahoo Finance. These days he writes about mobile, tech gadgets, and lifestyle subjects for a variety of publications.