How to Pack Books for Moving: 40 Steps for Packing Books (2022)

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Joshua Green

October 7, 2020

Moving Guides

Anyone whohas their love in books kindled from an early age knows that books are a realtreasure. It’s those very books that our parents used to read to us while wewere falling asleep, and which, many years later, we ourselves used as portableteleporting devices to visit imaginary new worlds in distant parallel universesor discover amazing places on our own planet.

How to Pack Books for Moving: 40 Steps for Packing Books (1)

Without ashadow of a doubt, books can have a great impact on our lives. In fact, theirvalue and significance cannot even be measured by any existing standardizedmethods, for a single book can greatly influence the way we think, perceive andprocess the world around us, and consequently, change us for the better.

For truebook lovers, nothing beats the unique smell of a real old-fashioned book, thecrisp sound of turning its pages and the lovely feel of holding something ofextraordinary value in the hands.

And if youhappen to have a sizeable book collection, then a house move can quickly turnthings upside down for you. You’d love to take all your books with you, ofcourse, but books are heavy so you may be forced to part with some of yourcopies. Also, you’d hate to see any books damaged in the moving process soyou’ll have to know the best way to pack books for moving.

Here’s howto pack books for moving in 40 steps.

OPTIMIZE your book collection: 6 steps

If you’removing long distance, then your interstate movers are going to charge you notonly for the move distance, but for the total weight of your items too.

Don’t befooled by the airy feel of a single book page – books can be very heavy whenpacked together. Even smaller paperback books and slim magazines add up quicklyto the overall weight of the entire shipment. And that basically means that everyextra book you choose to move with you will cost you extra money out of your ownpocket.

So, what todo before packing books for moving?

First thingsfirst – your initial task is to optimize your book collection by sorting outand grouping your copies. And no, you’re not going to like it.

  • GO through all the books you own in order to determine if you really want to pay money in order to keep them. Maybe it’ll make more sense to find another owner for some of them – another book lover who will continue to take good care of them and who might enjoy reading them as much as you did.
  • SORT OUT all your books into two separate groups: TO TAKE and NOT TO TAKE. Be mentally ready to make some tough decisions during the book optimization process. Apart from the clear winners (the books you won’t part with no matter what) and the clear losers (the books that are certainly not worth the moving expenses), many books can leave you frustratingly uncertain about what to do with them.
  • MAKE it easier on yourself and take only your most favorite books or the ones that are memorable gifts from special persons – that is, the copies that do mean something to you in some way.
  • LEAVE behind any books you’re not 100% you want to take with you. This way, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll also save yourself the trouble of having to find enough space to store all the books you’re moving with you – something that can be a big problem when you’re downsizing.
  • DONATE to charity all the books that are in good condition but you’ve decided to leave behind for some reason or another. Where to donate used books? Check with local libraries, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, daycare centers, and kindergartens (children’s books) whether they will be willing to accept your unwanted books.
  • THROW AWAY for recycling any books that are too damaged to serve anybody any good. Get in touch with your local recycling center to arrange to drop them off.

How to Declutter Your Home Before Moving: 10 Steps

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PREPARE the book packing supplies: 7 steps

You’re goingto need the proper packing materials to pack your books safely.

  • SECURE of all the packing materials you will need to pack your books for a move – small cardboard boxes in good condition (book boxes), clean packing paper, bubble wrap, packing tape, and marker pens.
  • FEEL free to use second-hand boxes as long as they are strong, clean, dry, and infestation-free. By using free moving boxes, you will be able to lower your packing expenses.
  • PURCHASE brand-new book boxes for moving if you can afford it. Specialized boxes for packing books (12’’ x 12’’ x 12’’, 1.0 cu.ft.) cost around $1.25 each.
  • INSPECT carefully all book boxes for moving for any signs of pre-existing damage or general dampness or localized wet spots. If you do find such unreliable cartons, discard them immediately.
  • GET clean and soft packing paper to protect your more valuable book copies and to create separate layers inside the small and sturdy boxes.
  • PURCHASE a couple of rolls of high-quality tape that you will use not only for sealing the packed containers, but also for reinforcing the book boxes for moving as well.
  • MAKE SURE you also have a black marker pen to label the boxes once you fill them up with your books.

Where to Get Free Packing Supplies

PACK books in boxes: 13 steps

How to Pack Books for Moving: 40 Steps for Packing Books (4)

You’veoptimized your book collection and secured the necessary packing supplies. Sofar, so good. Now, what’s the best way to pack books for moving?

  • REINFORCE the bottom of each book box with tape just to be extra sure that the carton will be able to withstand the heavy load. If necessary, tape the side seams of each box too. Bear in mind that books become super-heavy when packed together.
  • PLACE a clean sheet of packing paper on the bottom of the book box for added protection.
  • INITIATE the actual packing by working your way from the bottom shelf of your bookcase upwards. This method has been proven to be easier and faster, and it will put less strain on your back.
  • WRAP valuable books with soft packing paper first to protect them better on the road. Do the same with old books that can easily get damaged.
  • PICK the book packing method (flat, upright, spines down) that you find the easiest and safest – the one that just comes naturally to you.
  • USE the FLAT method of packing books for moving by placing the books flat and stacking them up tight and nicely along the side of the box. If possible, pick heavier books to go first in the moving container.
  • USE the UPRIGHT method of packing books for a move by placing the books standing upright with their open parts facing the side of the box.
  • USE the SPINES DOWN method of packing books when moving by placing the books with their spines facing downward while their open parts are facing you. Remember to NEVER pack your books with their spines facing upwards simply because the bindings may get damaged that way and cause your volumes to warp under the weight.
  • ARRANGE the books – regardless of which book packing method you’re using – one by one but not too tight because they can get accidentally damaged when you’re taking them out after the move.
  • BEGIN a second row when you’re done with the first one and if the space allows it. If there isn’t enough space for a second row of books (or a third one for that matter), you can arrange the tomes sideways but make sure that the pages of one book do not get into contact with the pages of another one. If you have no other option, place crushed paper between the two books to keep them separated.
  • FILL IN the remaining space in the book box with crumpled packing paper or pieces of bubble wrap to avoid unnecessary shifts and possible damage to the books during transit.
  • PLACE a layer of packing paper on the very top as soon as a moving box is fully packed up with your volumes and immobilized with filling materials. Then, close the lids (flaps) and tape the box shut.
  • TAKE a permanent marker pen and label the box with its content (BOOKS), its destination room (LIVING ROOM, BEDROOM, HOME OFFICE), and any other useful handling instructions you can think of.

Packing Timeline: What to Pack When for Moving

PACK heavy books in suitcases: 4 steps

Using small and sturdy boxes to pack up your volumes will work great in most cases – after all, it’s the most common way to transport books between two homes. However, cardboard boxes are still quite susceptible to damage, especially when they are loaded beyond their weight limits.

How to Pack Books for Moving: 40 Steps for Packing Books (5)

Be mindfulthat while you’re packing books for shipping, the moving boxes tend to becomevery heavy in a matter of minutes. Even before you realize it, a carton mayhave exceeded the reasonable limit of 40 lbs. and will already be too heavy andconsidered unsafe for carrying around.

And that isexactly why using suitcases still remains the best way to pack heavy books whenmoving house.

How to packheavy books for moving?

  • USE wheeled travel suitcases to move the heaviest volumes you own – such as thick and overweight encyclopedias or dictionaries. Purchasing new travel suitcases with wheels at the bottom to move your books is not reasonable, but if you do have any rolling suitcases lying around the house, then you’re in luck.
  • PACK your heavy books into a suitcase just like you would pack a big moving box. Aren’t suitcases simply very sturdy boxes with wheels for effortless transportation? Reserve your heaviest books for your wheeled companions and make believe you’re packing your books for a trip to the beach.
  • ENSURE the heavy volumes inside the suitcase are not shifting – if they are, use filling materials to immobilize them.
  • CLOSE the suitcase and zip it up. As an added bonus, you don’t even have to label the suitcase.

Room by Room Packing Checklist

PACK books for storage: 3 steps

If youintend to place your books in short-term or long-term storage after the move –either in a storage area in the new place or at a storage facility in yourdestination town or city, then you’re going to need to add a couple of extrasteps to the packing process.

What’s thebest way to pack books for storage?

  • FOLLOW theabove step-by-step instructions on how to pack books in boxes.
  • WRAP each individualbook in soft packing paper for better protection.
  • WRAP eachstorage-intended volume in plastic wrap (stretch wrap) that comes over theinitial layer of wrapping paper. This way, the final plastic layer will protectyour precious books against dust and possible moisture in the new-home storagearea or new-city storage facility (unit).

How to Pack Items for Storage

PACK books safely: 7 steps

Even though the task of packing and moving books doesn’t sound too complicated, you still need to follow the abovementioned steps for packing books for moving. Also, be sure to pay attention to these book packing tips intended to keep the entire packing process as safe as possible.

How to packbooks safely when moving house?

How to Pack Books for Moving: 40 Steps for Packing Books (6)
  • DO NOT packyour books in used cardboard boxes that have been used to transport or storefood products of any kind. Why? The risk of infestation is high.
  • USE smallboxes to pack and move books (medium-size boxes can sometimes be ok too).Remember that larger boxes are used for lightweight items such as clothes andbedding items, NOT for heavyweight things such as books.
  • NEVER PACKbooks with their spines facing you because you’ll increase the risk of damagingtheir bindings.
  • PACK theheavier books on the bottom and leave the lighter volumes for the top row.
  • KEEP eachbook-filled box under 40 pounds to prevent box breakage and possible personalinjuries on the day of the move.
  • DOUBLE-TAPE thebottoms of book boxes as an added safety measure.
  • DO NOT PACK bookstoo tightly against one another for fear of damaging a copy when you’re tryingto unpack them in the new home. It’s better to use filling materials to preventthe books from shifting inside the book box.

The abovetips for packing books for moving – recommended by both moving experts andexperienced librarians – will help you keep your valuable books in perfectcondition even when you’re moving across the country.

Still, if you find yourself unsure how to pack books efficiently or if you’re running out of time, remember that professional packers are ready to give you a helping hand. After all, nobody wants to see their priceless books damaged during a house move due to improper packing.

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Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2020, Last updated on October 7, 2020

Joshua Green

Joshua Green is a relocation expert and a moving industry professional, one of the esteemed contributors to MyMovingReviews.com with specialized articles and informative guides which help people organize and execute their moves easily and comfortably.Joshua is a recognized author of two books about moving one of which is Relocating Without Breaking A Sweat - Your Personal Handbook For A Perfect Move. Both books are well received and help thousands of people make the right relocation decisions.He is known to skillfully incorporate his never-ending energy, utmost dedication and raw passion into his works.You can contact Joshua Green at: joshua@mymovingreviews.com

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