Tips & How To’s

How to Pack Books for Moving Like a Professional

Tim Parry


how to pack books for moving

Since books are not fragile, packing them for relocation should be easier than wrapping and packaging all of the breakable items in your home. However, when relocating, you should not underestimate the task of packing your books. Otherwise, you might wind up with property damage or a physical injury of some kind. Or perhaps both. Also, people tend to make certain frequent mistakes that might cause unnecessary heartaches. Luckily, we have tips on how to pack books for moving, so no more packing mistakes.

Tips on How to Pack Books for Moving

1. Ensure you optimize your book collection

We discourage you from paying to move books that you will end up throwing away as soon as they arrive. Instead, get your spring cleaning done way before you pack, and you'll be able to travel a bit lighter. To make the process of optimizing your collection easier, divide your books into three piles; (must keep, undecided, must donate).

The secret to successful packing is not to waste time agonizing about each item, which is why there is an undecided pile. Nostalgia may be a time machine. So if you are unsure, but that intriguing title in a pile 2 and return to it later. Get your other family members to do the same if you have them. And make them responsible for sorting and eliminating books so that you only need to make one donation trip.

2. Look for the right packing materials.

Book boxes are frequently overstuffed and infamously hefty. They can also pose damage concerns to DIY movers if packed poorly. Start with the proper materials, meaning a thicker grade of cardboard box than is standard. You can buy book packing boxes from popular movers in your state or approach your local bookstore for old shipping boxes in good shape.

When transferring books, bigger boxes are not always better; the more you put in one box, the heavier it is and the more overwhelming it is to handle and move. The goal is to keep it small and strong; we recommend 12 x 12 x 18 inches. You will also need sturdy packing tape to ensure the box is tight and securely sealed, as well as packing paper to keep it from shifting during transportation.

Once your box is properly put together, tape extends from the bottom half up the sides. Then, line the box's base with packing paper to establish a barrier between outside moisture and the first layer of books. If you are transporting valuable books, you should line the bottom of the box with waterproof bubble wrap.

3. Label everything before removals

It is common practice to begin packing as early as possible in the process. Packing should be done slowly and methodically, with comparable editions grouped. Label the boxes as well. Finally, make a list of what's in each box. That way, when you arrive at your new house and begin unpacking, there will be much less uncertainty.

4. Packing of book types

Group the books by size and value now that you are ready to start putting books in the boxes. The basic guideline is to place the heaviest books at the bottom and lighter ones on the top. If you have rare book editions that are collector's items, you may need to transfer them in your moving day luggage instead of mixing them in with the rest of your library.

If you're packing precious hardcover books, wrap them individually and put them in the box standing upright with their spines facing the box's wall. You may also lay thick cardboard between them to protect them from moving. Moreover, if the books are huge and heavy, use multiple smaller boxes rather than another layer of hardcover volumes on top.

For less precious hardcover books, putting them flat in the box's base and stacking them one on top of the other is a simple and safe method. However, avoid storing books with the pages pointing towards the bottom of the box since this might cause the covers to collapse and fold. Some users also line up books with the spine on the bottom of the box, though this might harm the layers above them if done wrongly.

You can neatly arrange normal paperbacks in tidy rows while stacking comparable sizes together and buffering any empty area with packing paper. You can also mix and match the stacking ways here, but avoid putting any of them on an angle or pressing in too tightly since this can cause warping during transit.

Furthermore, when packing any of these categories, use scrunched-up packing paper to provide a buffer between the books and the box if there are gaps.

5. Ensure you place the boxes at the bottom of the truck

Once the packing is complete, you must load the boxes into the moving truck. But how can you get books from one place to another without damaging them? It's as simple; put the boxes carrying them on the truck's bed. That way, there is no risk of them collapsing or crushing whatever's beneath them.

6. Final steps

When your boxes are ready to be sealed, add an extra layer of packing papers on the top of your books before sealing them. Next, apply a sufficient amount of tape over the seal, take out your marker and thoroughly label the box.

If you plan to store your books, these packing tips we've mentioned will keep them secure in the near term. Also, consider changing your packing paper with acid-free paper for long-term storage to prevent discoloration over time.

Conversely, unpacking them will be a snap once you reach your destination. Even young family members may assist because unpacking books is a simple operation that allows you to collapse a few empty boxes and free some space fast. Besides, there is nothing like putting familiar volumes on the bookshelf and immediately feeling at ease.

What Are the Do's When Packing Books?

How to pack books for moving

1. Do optimize

As we have mentioned, you need to optimize your book collection before packing them for moving. Ensure you take your favorite books, valuable presents from beloved friends, and so on; that's, books that you would like to save and those that mean something to you and maybe intend to re-read in the future.

2. Do use the easy methods for packing

We recommend using the easiest and most secure way to arrange your books within moving boxes. First, select upright, flat, or spines down from the three packing options. In those three options, we recommend packing the books flat stacking them along the sides of the box. This option happens to be also the most secure method of packing books for a move. However, when you decide to pack your books upright, ensure the open areas face the edges of the box. Sometimes it turns out that this is the best way to pack your books for relocating.

3. Do sort out your books 

Divide your books into three piles; books to take, undecided and books to leave behind. If you can't decide whether to take or leave a book, leave it. Decide the books you want to leave behind, and the decision should be based on the current condition and the value of each book copy. Conversely, there are those books you want to gift your friends or donate to charity in great condition though you are not taking them with you. So, you can give some books that you won't be needing to local libraries, nursing homes, hospitals, schools and schools to name a few.

4. Do prepare book boxes

Look for tiny book boxes. It would be best only to pack books in small boxes since they rapidly accumulate a lot of weight. Place the heavier books inside the box first, then arrange the one on top. Besides, recycle any books that are worn out, damaged, obsolete or worthless to read and appreciate.

5. Do secure the boxes

Before starting the packing process, ensure you have the essential packing materials; high-quality packing tape, soft packing papers, and a marker pen to label the book boxes. Reinforce the base of each box with packing tape to ensure that the boxes won't collapse with the weight of your books stacked together. If required, tape the side box seams too. Additionally, before packing your books in the boxes, ensure that each box is dry, clean, and damage-free.

We also recommend inserting a few sheets of packing paper into the bottom of each box before packing it. You will be creating an initial layer of insulation as well as protection for your books by doing this. Finally, wrap the precious books with soft packing paper before stacking them in book boxes.

6. Do arrange your books neatly

Ensure you separate the first and second rows of your books with a couple of sheets of packaging paper. This way, the pages of various books won't contact one other during transportation. Fill any empty spaces within the book boxes with bubble wrap or crumpled packing paper. This way, books inside the boxes won't shift during transit because they might get damaged if they do.

7. Do use a different box for other valuables

Pack your valuables and other heavy books in a suitcase, especially if you have a suitcase with wheels. Without question, this is the simplest and most secure method of transporting books to a new location. However, take the books that have extreme emotional value for you, and don't let them be loaded on the moving truck with the rest of your items. Moreover, as we mentioned, label your boxes, so you don't waste time looking for them in your new home. Plus, make a list of books and their intended areas, such as a home office or living room.

What Are the Don'ts When Packing Books?

These are the things you should avoid when packing your books for moving.

1. Avoid using cardboard boxes that were previously used to store food products

The last thing you want is insects to find their way into your new house through your packed books.

2. Avoid packing your books in large boxes when moving

Keep in mind that when books are crammed into a small space, they become quite heavy. However, you can use medium-sized boxes.

3. Avoid packing your books at an odd angle in the moving boxes to prevent early damage

Therefore, before beginning the second row or shutting the lid, double-check that all books are properly positioned.

4. Do not forget to add extra protection to books that are valuable to you

Wrap your precious books; rare books, signed books, antique books, and so on. When wrapping them, ensure the packing paper is soft.

5. Do not make book boxes weighing more than 20 pounds

Ensure your book boxes are less than 20 pounds; otherwise, you will risk ruining your valuable goods if the box accidentally collapses under the weight. You will also incur the danger of bodily injury due to probable box breaking.

6. Do not pack books with their spines upward

Don't let the spines face upward, i.e., facing you. Otherwise, you risk damaging the bindings of your valuable books.

7. Do not place your books too close to one another

We discourage arranging books too tightly against each other because arranging them this way may force you to damage a copy while trying to unpack the books inadvertently.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Pack Books for Moving

1. Which is better, stacking books spine up or down?

We recommend packing your book's spine down. To avoid damage, always pack books with the paper edges facing up and the spines facing down; this will never cause the books to distort and the pages to bend.

2. What's the ideal size box for packing books?

According to Rachael Lyons, head of marketing at Olympia Moving and Eric Welch, training director at Gentle Giant Movers, the best book box is a small one- a 1.5 cubic foot box or less.

Both Eric Welch, training director at Gentle Giant Movers, and Rachael Lyons, head of marketing at Olympia Moving, agree that the best book box is a small one—a 1.5-cubic-foot box or less.

3. Is it OK to keep books in plastic boxes?

We recommend that books be stored in a plastic container or storage bin. This will help keep your books safe from dust, moisture, pests, and rodents.

4. How long will a paperback last?

Paperbacks have a shelf life of 20 years, but hardcovers can last 40 to 60 years. Each type of book is produced differently: paperbacks are made of paper, while hardcovers are made of cardboard.

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Tim Parry

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