How to pack books for moving

If you are an avid reader, perhaps your library of books is one of your most prized collections – but what happens when it’s time to move? Some people may think that packing books for a move is as simple as hauling one of the biggest boxes you can find and tossing everything inside till you’ve reached the brim. 

However, some strategy is involved in learning how to pack books for moving. After all, you don’t want to go to the effort of hauling your books overseas just to have them arrive damaged.

Before you start to pack your books for a move, it is always wise to lighten the load on your library and try donating as many books as possible so you’ll have less to transfer. This will save you money since freight is normally based on weight. If you want to donate, simply call up your nearest library or secondhand bookstore and drop the books there so someone else can benefit from them (or give them to friends or family who will enjoy them).

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Do I need to carry both copies of the same novel?
  • Do I still need the books I read in middle or high school? 
  • Do I need to take books I’ve already read- am I likely to read them again?

Tips for How to Pack Books for Moving 

Now that you have sorted your library and decided which books you will be carrying along, try getting hold of the following equipment before you get started:

  • Sturdy cardboard boxes (having an assortment of small, medium, and large works perfectly well)
  • Duct tape to tightly pack and secure them
  • Markers or pens to label the boxes
  • Fragile stickers (if needed)

Below are some tips to help pack your books easier and ensure their safety.

Find the Right Boxes

Packing books in a box is all about learning how to distribute their weight evenly so you don’t end up with a torn box or damaged books. To play it safe, calculate how many boxes you’ll need and choose multiple small and medium-sized boxes instead of large ones. 

Then load the books based on their size into whichever box is best suited for them. If you are still unsure, you can always use one of the free moving box calculators online.

Don’t Fill Large Boxes Completely

If you are unable to find medium or small-sized boxes or if you are stuck with using oversized boxes, then avoid filling them up to the brim. Instead, fill about 60% of the boxes and place rolled towels and liners inside to keep the books safe and secured.

Avoid Damaged Boxes

The condition of the cardboard boxes you use plays a significant role in how safe and secure your books will remain during the moving process.

Part of learning how to pack books for moving involves choosing cardboard boxes wisely. Avoid ripped, torn, damp or faulty boxes which can buckle under the heavy weight of the books. Alternatively, use plastic bins if your boxes seem unreliable.

Boxes vs. Suitcases

In addition to cardboard boxes, suitcases (especially suitcases with wheels) are also an excellent alternative for packing books for moving. If you have to move your suitcase anyway, then rolling suitcases are a great way to pack your books as you’ll avoid any heavy lifting in the process. 

Keep in mind that your books will still need to be packed securely when using a suitcase, don’t just toss them in.

Have a Plan to Unpack

While packing books as efficiently and securely as possible is the best way to keep them safe when moving, keep in mind that it also makes it easier to unpack them later. When you pack your books properly to begin with, you can quickly unpack them and when you arrive. Some of the most common ways of organizing books are by:

  • Genre
  • Group
  • Author
  • Alphabetical order 
  • Size

Packing Hardcover vs. Paperback Books

When you’re packing books, be sure to pack them vertically with the hardcover books standing upright and the paperback books stacked on their sides. This will help you distribute the weight of the books in the best possible way as well as protect the pages from getting damaged.

What to do with the in-between spaces

One of the most common issues faced while packing books for moving is the pesky gaps between the piles of books. These gaps often result in books shifting and moving about in cardboard boxes during the move. 

To avoid this, try using crumpled packing paper to fill in any empty spaces and keep everything in its place. If you are reluctant to buy packing paper or bubble wrap, you can also use rolled-up washcloths, towels, socks, or even old t-shirts. These items all serve the same purpose as packing paper and have to be packed up anyway for the move. 

Handle Fragile Books Carefully

As much as we love all of our books, we must treat each one differently based on their condition and value. Some vintage books, comics, and even photo albums tend to be more fragile than others and may require extra care, especially while packing them to be moved. 

This kind of fragile book should be wrapped in an air-filled plastic wrap or bubble wrap before being packed into a box.

Alternatively, books that hold special meaning to you or are priceless can also be packed separately in smaller dedicated cardboard boxes instead of alongside the rets of your collection.

Best Practices when Moving Books

  • Once your boxes of books are filled, secured, and labeled, make sure that you place them on the floor of the truck instead of stacking them on top of each other. Doing so will help prevent them from tipping over while in transit and mitigate the risk of damage.
  • When loading the cardboard box filled with your books into the moving truck, make sure that the truck’s base is clean. Avoid a wet or damp floor as this may cause damage to the books if it seeps in.

Things to Do When Packing Books for Moving

There are certain things you can do when packing books for a move that will make your life easier. Here are a few suggestions: 

  • Optimize your book collection and sort your books into two piles – one for books to take with you on the move, and one for books that you plan to leave behind.
  • Always have extra packing tape on hand.
  • Pack the books flat, upright, or spine down and stack them along the sides to avoid any shifting during the transport. 
  • Place heavier hardcover books at the bottom and lighter books on top.
  • Avoid packing books with their spine facing upward since this may lead to damaging the binding and the pages of the books.
  • Don’t forget to add an extra layer of plastic or other means of protection to fragile, rare, or valuable books.
  • Don’t make your boxes heavier than 20 pounds. If the boxes are too heavy, you risk damaging them if the cardboard box tears or falls apart.  
  • Label boxes that are fragile. For many people, labelling can be an arduous procedure. However, taking the time to do it allows the movers to know what they are handling, and whether extra care should be used.

To avid book readers, their library of books is one of their most valuable possessions, so while packing books safely might sound like overkill, ensuring that they arrive damage- free is important. Good luck!

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