The Best Way to Pack Books for Moving

Girl Packing Books

Dr. Seuss famously said, “Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” And bookworms have devotedly followed this advice ever since. However, when it comes to moving house, the task of correctly packing books can be daunting. For a bibliophile, there’s nothing more frustrating than bent spines, ripped pages, or water damage all of which can result from poorly stacked books. Whether this is your first moving experience or if you are searching for the best way to pack books collection for moving, fret no more because we have put together this ultimate guide containing everything you need to know about packing all kinds of books like a professional. From paperbacks to hardcovers, comics, or vintage classics that have been passed down the generations, keep reading to find out simple, safe, and innovative tips on packing books the correct way that will ensure a hassle-free moving experience.

Pro Tips

Use small boxes – a large box crammed with books will be unpleasantly heavy and can result in mishaps. Instead, pack your books in small to medium-sized boxes that are easier to carry. 

Line the boxes – Bubble wrap or packing paper is ideal for lining boxes. If both are unavailable, you can always rely on newspapers, old scarves, blankets, towels, or old cotton t-shirts. 

Classify – the best way to pack books is to categorize them into paperbacks, hardcovers, comics, and vintage or rare editions and fragile books that need extra care. 

Keep enough tape – be very generous with the use of tape to secure your boxes. Make sure you seal the boxes from the top as well as the bottom to avoid mishaps. 

Get creative – In case you are wondering how to pack books without boxes, we have you covered! You can always use suitcases (rolling suitcases will make your life a lot easier) or briefcases lying around your house. Large backpacks or baskets are ideal alternatives.

10 Step Guide on How to Pack Books For Moving Like a Professional:

1. Start Early

The idea of packing an enormous collection can be overwhelming and chances are you might procrastinate the task till the last minute which can lead to reckless packing and unnecessary damage. It is recommended that you start boxing your books well in advance and well before packing the rest of your things. This will give you enough time for the next step of re-evaluating your collection. As going through your book collection will open a treasure chest of memories, you will probably spend time reminiscing and flipping through your books. Hence, getting a head start will ensure you get a chance to enjoy the whole process rather than feel rushed or anxious at the last minute.

2. Re-evaluate your Collection

Start re-evaluating your shelves a month in advance and try to thin down your collection. Although the thought of giving away books may sound unappealing at first, there are likely a lot of unwanted or frayed books that have accumulated on your shelves over the years. If you plan on hiring a packers and movers service and are being charged according to weight, cutting down on unnecessary books will make the whole process less stressful and more economical. Extra copies of the same book, comics, magazines, or titles you are no longer interested in, old school textbooks, etc. can add tonnes of unwanted weight. Ideal options would be to either donate to a local school or library, giving away extra copies to friends and family, or selling books to a second-hand book shop. You can get creative and hold a literary-themed garage sale!

3. Classify and Categorize

Categorizing books goes a long way when it comes to packing for moving. Classify your books into the following categories – 

  • Paperbacks 
  • Hardcovers 
  • Rare/Vintage editions
  • Fragile books
  • Magazines and Comics 

Although packing books according to the genre, author or color-scheme might seem appealing, it is recommended that you pack as per the weight of the books to prevent bent spines and crumpled corners.

4. Gather Necessary Materials

To pack books like a professional, you must have all the basic materials at hand before you start. Scampering to find extra tape or scissors amidst packing will be time-consuming and frustrating. Keep a small toolbox with all the materials you need. Some of the most basic things required are listed below – 

Sturdy cardboard boxes – make sure to purchase good quality, small to medium-sized cardboard boxes that can carry the weight. If you plan on reusing old boxes lying around your garage, make sure they are free from dampness. 

Packing paper – Invest in good quality packing paper that is acid-free and ink-free. Packing paper is the ideal option for wrapping collector’s editions and vintage books.

Bubble wrap – use bubble wrap to add a buffer layer for protection. Always remember that the bubble side should be facing the item you wish to wrap. Do not wrap the books with the bubbles facing outside. 

Scissors – A good pair of scissors comes handy very often while packing and moving. Make sure you have one with you for cutting paper, tape, ropes, etc. 

Tape – A professional packer knows that no matter how good the boxes are or how perfect the packing is, choosing the wrong kind of tape can lead to serious accidents and damage to goods. Tapes that are specially meant for packing and moving have stronger adhesive properties and are the best way to pack books for moving. Duct tape, filament tape, brown paper tape, and masking tape are popular options.

Marker pens – Permanent marker pens in bold colors and waterproof ink to label boxes.

5. How to box your books properly

Once you have classified your books and have all the necessary materials at hand, it is time to get to the actual packing. It might seem like a pretty straightforward process but there’s more to packing books than simply dumping them in a box. 

Pack them flat – The best way to pack books is to pack them flat. Packing them vertically might seem like a good idea to save space and get the most out of your box, however, stacking heavy boxes on top of vertically packed books can do some lasting damage to the spines of the books. 

Heavy books at the bottom – Make sure you pack heavier books first and stack the books on top of each other so that they are at level. Avoid leaving any gaps. The books should fit in the box snugly. Avoid overcrowding the box to prevent damage.

The correct way to pack vertically – If you plan on stacking your books vertically, make sure to place them spine-first or in the spine-down position. Placing the books with the spines exposed will lead to bent edges and crumpled pages. Always ensure that the spine of the book doesn’t have to take the weight.

How to pack rare editions – It’s always a good idea to take extra precautions while packing rare or fragile books. Wrapping rare editions or books of great value in packing paper will add an extra layer of protection. You can also line the box with bubble wrap. If bubble wrap isn’t available, lining the box with soft t-shirts, scarves or blankets is the best way to securely pack your books as it will add the needed layer of cushioning.

The Best Way to Pack Books for Moving
The Best Way to Pack Books for Moving

6. Extra safety and padding

Fill the gaps Books come in all shapes and sizes and hence, gaps while packing books are inevitable. The key is to fill those gaps so that the books don’t move around inside the box. Make sure you fill gaps by rolling up some packing paper or newspaper. Keep in mind to use something soft and malleable and not something sharp or anything that juts out. Soft t-shirts, sweaters, scarves, blankets, yarn balls are great alternatives.

7. The best way to seal your boxes

Sealing boxes the right way is crucial. Follow these tips to pack your boxes correctly – 

  • Close the small flaps first followed by the large ends.
  • Do not intertwine the flaps as it weakens the strength of the box.
  • Use a good quality tape that has strong adhesive properties.
  • Use the “H shape” sealing method. From the bottom of your box, place the tape across the middle and seal on either side to avoid exposed edges. Make sure that the tape overlaps around the edges for extra protection. From the top, seal the box in the middle seam and then tape across the box.

8. Label the boxes

A truck full of identical boxes can make packing as well as unpacking a nightmare. The best way to pack books is to avoid confusion by neatly labelling your boxes immediately after packing. Use good quality permanent markers in bold colors and waterproof ink. Label tapes are also a great option. Make sure to label your boxes from all sides. For rare and fragile books, label the boxes as “Fragile” and “H” for high priority. This will enable you to prioritize your unpacking. Develop a color-coded system or a numbering system for hardcovers, paperbacks, comics, and magazines if you feel motivated to be super organized.

9. Keep a few books aside for comfort reading

Ardent readers can’t imagine spending a day without flipping through a book. The idea of having all your books packed away in boxes for a while can be daunting. It’s best to keep a few favorites aside and carry them in your backpack so you have reading material around. Reading regularly for a while throughout the packing and moving process can be very therapeutic. And with your television, computer and laptop all boxed up, a book will provide just the solace you need during an otherwise hectic process.

10. Placing boxes in a truck

Whether you have rented a truck or hired professional movers, there are a few things to keep in mind while placing boxes in a truck or a van. Load the heaviest and largest boxes first and the lightest boxes last. Make sure that boxes with books are not topped with furniture or other heavy items such as a refrigerator or a washing machine. Load the boxes carefully and do not make a tall pile. Spread out the boxes on the floor of the truck or van. Boxes containing books are heavy and if they topple, they can severely damage other goods.

How To Pack Books Without Boxes 

Get Creative In case you run out of boxes or simply want alternatives to cardboard boxes, there are plenty of substitutes for packing books without boxes. Readers have a vivid imagination which can be put to effective use in times like these. Here is a list of creative tips on how to pack books without boxes.

  • Suitcases and Briefcases – These are some great alternatives for packing books, especially rare and fragile books. Suitcases and briefcases have a soft padded layer which will ensure that your books are snugly tucked in them. They also have many zip pockets which can be used to store your fancy bookmarks and other trinkets from your bookshelves. 
  • Baskets and Crates – The best way to pack books when cardboard boxes are unavailable is to use picnic baskets or crates lying around the house. These are suitable replacements for cardboard boxes. Line the basket or crate with packing paper and add a layer of bubble wrap on top. Remember to place the bubble side facing the books. Make sure you fasten the lid with tape. 
  • Storage Trunks – Wooden or metal storage trunks can securely store lots of books. Place the books flat and fill in the gaps. A trunk full of books can be heavy and so it’s best to seek help while moving it. 
  • Backpacks – Use backpacks to pack your books. You can store your stationery and bookish merchandise like scented candles, quills and wands, enamel pins, etc. in the many pockets of the backpack. 
    • Pro Tip – The softly padded laptop compartment can be used for keeping fragile or rare books.
  • Alternative packing materials – Any soft item can be used as filler material for packing and layering boxes to create a protective buffer around books. The most accessible alternative materials include blankets and clothes. Sponges, socks (clean ones), handkerchiefs, napkins, and towels can be utilized as padding materials.

Pro Tip – Garbage bags are a great way to water-proof your boxes. Just in case your moving day is intruded by a slight drizzle or a downpour and moving can’t be put off, fear not. Simply use garbage bags to wrap your books and boxes. 

A little bit of planning and packing your books in phases will lead to an organized and stress-free experience. Moving day can bring its set of anxiety and confusion but having a plan will ensure that you know what you are doing and will help you stay sane throughout the process. Follow these tips and our step by step guide on the best way to pack books for moving and see yourself packing books like a seasoned professional

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