How to pack books safely for moving isn’t the most common question we get asked when it comes to removals, but it is an important one. More often than not, improperly packed books are one of the key causes of accidental mess in the back of a moving van.
How to pack books in boxes – general packing advice
Look for strong but not too big cardboard boxes
The smaller the box is, the more heavy items it can carry, and books are heavy.
Line your boxes with packing paper or tissue before you start filling them
This is especially useful if you are packing hardback books with decorative slipcovers.
Load your biggest and heaviest books first
This might seem obvious but it’s easy to get carried away during the stress of packing.
Pack your books flat
Don’t pack your books vertically as it could lead to mishaps if you stack other boxes on top of your books box. Depending on the shape and size of your books, you are likely to be able to fit in possibly two separate stacks of flat-packed books.
Don’t overfill a box
It is better to leave a gap of an inch or so between the books and the top rather than cramming them in until they’re nearly overflowing, risking damage to your books and the box.
Fill the gaps in the box
This will help to secure your books in place. You could use old newspaper, clothes, bedding, or towels to effectively protect your books during transit.
Make the most of your packing tape
You can tape the box around multiple times to give you full peace of mind that the contents are safe. Protecting your books with more tape can actually lower your moving costs as you will be able to preserve the condition of your paperbacks and won’t need to spend any money on restoration.
Don’t forget to label your boxes
It is important to make it clear that the box contains books, so the movers know it is heavy and will put it on the bottom of the van.
Moving house is always going to be a fairly stressful time for anyone, not just book lovers. Packing and moving all of your personal belongings will take time and effort that most of us don’t have or don’t like to spare. However, if you are on a strict budget, it is better to pack everything up yourself rather than pass the job onto someone else.
What materials will you need?
- A reasonable number of strong cardboard boxes. Some people might advise that you buy your boxes new, but you could easily get free high-quality removals boxes if you look in the right places. Keep an eye out for small, sturdy ones, preferably no deeper than around 16”. Corrugated cardboard normally offers the best protection, particularly for heavy items like books.
- Lots of tapes. Brown packing tape is the ideal solution to keeping boxes firmly closed. However, masking tape is easier to remove and less likely to cause any damage if it touches the books themselves accidentally. The one you choose will ultimately come down to personal preference or try both for different items in different boxes.
- Rags, newspapers, stuff that you can use to fill empty gaps in the box.
Packed books are really heavy
If you overfill a box of books, you (or the poor person who goes to lift it) will soon find that it is impossible to pick up, let alone navigate the obstacle course of a packed house and get to a removal van. As well as the practical issues involved, there is a significant amount of stress when it comes to disrupting your home library in its neat and organised place.
Nothing messes up a nice system of books than having to transport them when moving house to a new property and then needing to set the in-house library back up again. Taking all of the above into consideration, below is our advice on packing your books in the safest and most efficient way possible.
How to pack books for storage
The best way to store books is to pack them specifically for a storage facility. It is your decision and down to your preference whether you use your own storage or book a professional storage service. Storage is normally needed when you need to free up space in your home but there isn’t any other place where you can keep your possessions. For the short-term storage of your books until you have an area set up for them in your new home, follow these packing tips.
Pack the books
Use the previously mentioned tips and select the most appropriate packing materials and cardboard boxes for book storage. Paperbacks are stored best when they are packed neatly into boxes.
Think about the duration of the storage period
This is very important as the longer your books are stored, the more exposed to the environment they become. Humidity and pests can significantly damage or even completely destroy books that have been kept in storage for a long period of time without any regular checks of their condition.
Evaluate the risk of rodent problems
If the storage area or facility where you are keeping your books is in a basement, then there is a high risk of rats getting into the storage and chewing on the pages of your books. Rats have continuously growing incisors and to control their length they need to chew on things. In fact, rats have the ability to destroy nearly any type of hard material. When deciding on a container, make sure it will be resistant to pests.
Provide extra support
If you hire the services of a removal company, your boxes with books will be kept in a storage container, which is normally a personal one. However, if it is a shared storage unit, other items might be placed on top of your boxes. This could put a great deal of pressure on top that may damage your books. That is why it is important to fill any free space with padding material or use a more solid box. It is best if it’s made from plastic or metal, particularly if you are not certain about the service provider’s techniques and practices for storage.
Use the “spine down” rule
You should always pack your books with the spine down when you are dealing with a considerable number of books that can’t be stacked otherwise. This method is referred to as spine shelving. If you pack them incorrectly with the pages facing the bottom, they could bend due to not enough support.
Determine the size of the storage container
When you are hiring a company for a long-term storage service, you should always enquire about the size of the storage containers. This will help to make sure you can fit in all the books you need for moving and storage and that they will be well protected.
Long-term storage is when you need to store your items for more than 6 months and have no access to them during this time. Boxes that are stored for a long time sustain a large amount of depreciation as they might become exposed to a range of threats like humidity. You should take extra care when preserving your boxes of books for an extended period of time.