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What is the best way to ship a book? How to use Media Mail

Updated on March 11, 2013

A Bookshelf Full Of Vintage And Antique Books

You have to be extra careful when shipping older books. For particularly rare books, you should use a box with heavy padding inside.
You have to be extra careful when shipping older books. For particularly rare books, you should use a box with heavy padding inside.

The Correct Way To Ship A Book

I sell books for a living, among vintage, antique, art, and functional and other items. From my experience, I have learned how to ship most items. It is so frustrating to see so many people giving bad advice, so I wanted to explain how to ship books once and for all.

One of the easiest and cheapest items to ship is books! Due to the ability to standardize shipment for books, it is easy to keep costs low, efficiency high, storage space at a minimum, and protection during shipping a maximum. With any of the methods I will explain today, you can ship a book the safest, cheapest, and smartest, in just a few minutes! There are three ways that you can correctly ship a book, and I will explain the three ways of how to do it in this hub.

Using A Box

The safest possible method of shipping a book is to use a box. Unfortunately this method requires the most storage space, and costs the most money. If you were shipping a very expensive book, this would be the way to do it though. There is still a right way and a wrong way to use this method however, and it is done wrong more often than right! Amazon itself ships books in a very poor manner, as do most people who use boxes to ship books. Here are some things to remember when shipping a book using a box.

Video Review Of A Low Noise Tape Gun For Shipping Books

Things To Consider When Using Boxes To Ship Books

1) Pack the book so that there is little space between itself and the box. There should be only about an inch on each side, and it should be heavily padded with fill material. Foam would be best, but packing peanuts or bubble wrap, if packed tight will also work well. Thin bubble wrap is better than packing peanuts because it takes a bit more abuse due to all of the small, individual bubbles. Most importantly, you do not want your book to move at all during transit.

2) Don't use a cereal box. if you are going to ship using a box, use a clean, odor free box that has some rigidity to it. The last thing the recipient wants is a crushed box with a mangled book. If you are looking for cheap boxes, you can read my other hub about how I get boxes for shipping.

3) Use good tape, or at least tape the box up thoroughly. Some prefer using a lot of cheap tape or a little expensive tape. It is a personal preference, but either way, it is important that your box stays sealed during transit. Boxes can go through very heavy handling wear if they are sent through media mail.

Using Bflute With An Interior Wrapped Book

This is the method that I prefer to use. This method protects books the best in my opinion. The video above shows this process in great detail, step by step. First the book is wrapped with plastic wrap. This keeps the book tight during shipping and also protects against water. This prevents warping of the book as well. The next step is to wrap the book in Bflute which is a corrugated cardboard wrap. Some people use one layer, but I use two. It is debatable if two layers are truly necessary, but I feel that for most books it is. Lastly, you tape the Bflute wrapping around the book in a way that creates rigid corners. This protects the book in all directions, but specifically from corner and spine damage, the most vulnerable areas. You can order Bflute easily online on Ebay.

Amazon uses boxes to ship all of their books. Unfortunately they use incorrect fill material to save money, and so books rattle around inside the box, causing unnecessary damage!
Amazon uses boxes to ship all of their books. Unfortunately they use incorrect fill material to save money, and so books rattle around inside the box, causing unnecessary damage! | Source

Things To Consider When Using Bflute

1) You should keep the bflute tight enough so that it leaves little space between itself and the bflute, but not so tight that it warps the book. This protects it from sliding around. The benefit to this method of packing books is that the cardboard stays very close and acts as a skin of sorts. If it is not tight, it is similar to how you would get a blister if your sock or shoe was loose.

2) You can ship most books in a priority flat rate envelope for $5, but they can only safely fit in these envelopes if you wrapped the book in Bflute first. Due to space limitations because of the size of the envelopes, you won't have enough space to use a box, and Bflute offers just the right amount of cushion. If you were to use a box to ship priority mail, it will almost always cost more than $5.00

The Third way to ship using Bflute, which is also another good way, is to use the same method above, except that you use a poly bag on the outside instead of plastic wrap on the inside. The advantage is that it is a little bit faster and possibly cheaper to use. The drawback for me for this method, is that the book is not held as firmly in place from twisting. I can't say which is better, but with only one negative feedback unrelated to packaging, over 3,000 books this year, the method I am using must be good!

Do You Sell Used Books Online?

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