How to Pack Books for Moving

How to Pack and Move Books: Your Ultimate Guide

If you’re a certified bibliophile, getting ready for a move – especially interstate or overseas – is no cakewalk. Even if you’re just moving neighbourhoods in the same city or state, the thought of losing some of your beloved books or getting them torn, misshapen or mangled in the process would be a nightmare.

And since stressing over interstate moving costs and the move itself, the best thing to do now is to come up with a checklist or plan to stay organised. This includes a step-by-step packing process and schedule for your house move. If you need some tried-and-tested tips about moving books, count yourself lucky. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to pack and move books – whether you’re moving across town, to a different state or relocating abroad.

1. Pare down your book collection

It’s never easy saying goodbye to a book – whether it’s one you purchased out of curiosity or genuine interest. But if you have a huge book collection, it would be a good idea to go through your books carefully and separate the ones that you absolutely must have from those that you’re unlikely to read again. Make sure you allocate sufficient time for this to avoid regrets.

Once you are done sorting through your collection, it’s time to decide on what you should do to the books you’ll be letting go of. Do you sell them, give them away to friends or family, or donate them?

  • If you want to make a little money out of your collection, you could hold a yard sale and invite your neighbours to see if there’s anything that will strike their fancy. You could also approach second-hand stores, used-book retailers or neighbourhood lending libraries.
  • You could also hold a going-away party with your friends (or close relatives). That’s when you can give them a chance to go through the pile of books that you’re not taking with you. Who knows, they might just find something that they’ve been looking for!
  • In case you plan to donate your books, you could get in touch with school or church libraries in your community.

Now, we can proceed to the next crucial step: how to pack books in boxes for moving.

2. Start packing ASAP

Just like it would be wise to begin packing all your stuff as early as possible, you also need to allocate enough time to pack your books properly.

Packing books can be time consuming, especially if your collection is huge. You need to prepare several high-quality cartons, pack your books individually, and place them in each box with care. Then you’ll need to label each box, seal them and get them ready for moving day.

To ensure you finish packing your books early, include this task in your list of priorities. 

Also, prepare your packing supplies, including the following:

  • Sturdy boxes in different sizes
  • Several rolls of packing tape
  • Permanent markers
  • Packing paper or old newspaper
  • Box cutters

3. Organise books based on size

It would be so nice to organise your books based on genre or author name or some other classification system you prefer.

But for the purposes of packing and moving, the best way to organise them is according to size. This way, you’ll find it easier to identify appropriately sized boxes for your books. You can also minimise the gaps within each box and fit your books in with minimal fuss.

4. Keep the weight down by using small boxes

Books are notoriously heavy, as they are made from paper that’s densely packed between covers. This means that if you have 100, 200 or 500 books or more, carrying them to and from the truck could be a real chore, especially if the boxes are big and heavy.

Therefore, it’s best to use small, sturdy boxes in order to limit the total weight of each one. Make sure you line each box with newsprint or packing paper, seal the bottom and openings, and label it accordingly.

By doing these things, you’re also helping make moving your books easier for the removalists. And since each box is set to a reasonable weight, the movers also won’t be tempted to throw your boxes of books around when they’re in a hurry.

How to pack paperback books and old or fragile reading materials

Ensuring your paperbacks and fragile old books are safe requires more attention than taking care of hardcover books, since the latter already have protective covers.

Protect your paperbacks and old or fragile books by putting each one inside a clean plastic bag first before transferring it to a box. You can also support the covers of old books with cardboard or pieces of wood for the front and back prior to putting them inside their individual plastic bags.

5. Mix and match packing positions

Since books come in various ‘standard’ sizes, they’re fairly easy to arrange – whether flat on their backs (ideal for stacking), standing up like books on a shelf or with the spines at the bottom.

If you need to pack differently sized books in a box, you can use a combination of these positions to get the best outcome and avoid big gaps.

6. Don’t forget to group books by weight

Packing your books based on size is all good, as long as there aren’t any huge, bulky or thick books in between. So, if you have books like ‘War and Peace’ or ones of a similar proportion, make sure you put those at the bottom, followed by medium-sized ones, with the thinner, lighter ones at the top.

By doing this, your regular-sized books can be safe during the move.

7. Get rid of gaps by using packing paper or newsprint

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you could still end up with gaps if you’re packing books of different sizes and weights. When this happens, fill the gaps using packing paper or old newspaper.

You can also use clean rags or clothes to plug these gaps and prevent the books from moving about during the move.

8. Seal every box securely

Packing tape is a handy resource during packing and moving, so have plenty of it during the packing stage.

To ensure the boxes don’t collapse and you don’t end up with ruined books, secure all box openings and seams with additional layers of tape. If you’re using trolley suitcases, add some reinforcement tape too.

9. Put some books in your trolley suitcases

Suitcases – especially rolling ones – are not just meant to hold your clothes. In fact, they can make excellent book transportation receptacles. After all, they’re pretty sturdy and roomy and conveniently come with wheels for ease of movement.

How to pack books in a suitcase

Now, your big question might be how to pack books in a suitcase. It’s super easy.

The same rules apply if you’re packing books in boxes or in trolley suitcases. The only difference is that there’s less of a need to reinforce the inside bottoms or openings of the trolley with tape. You just need to make sure that the books are well-packed so they don’t move around during transport.

For best results, fill your suitcase with crumpled newspaper or packing paper to fill in gaps and keep the books in place.

10. Label all over

We’ve mentioned labelling several times, and we’re saying it again: label every single box and any other container you use for packing – whether it’s a trolley suitcase or some other receptacle.

If you can, put labels on all sides or at least two sides that are visible to whoever is handling the boxes. Be extra detailed in labelling by adding information on the fragility of the contents, as well as including arrows that’ll tell the movers which is the right side up.

11. Unpack your books ASAP

When you get to your new place, it would be advisable to get the shelves set up and the books unpacked. This way, you can arrange your books using your own system and clear out a good number of boxes. You’ll be able to free up more space for other things.

If your books need to be shipped…

Your first concern would be how to package books for shipping.

Preparing your books to be shipped also means following more or less the same steps. You’ll still need to protect your books individually and pack them carefully in their boxes.

One thing you shouldn’t forget, though, is to put your name and contact details on each box to ensure it makes its way back to you in case it gets misplaced or lost during shipping.

Keeping books in storage

The decision to keep your books in storage is an entirely individual choice.

Perhaps you need more time getting organised in your new place or there isn’t enough space for all your books. Whatever the situation, you need to ensure the storage facility you choose is safe and secure. After all, you wouldn’t want to entrust your precious book collection to just anyone.

At Relocations WA, we offer a complete Perth removals and storage service, so we can help you get set up with the facility you need to keep your books safe and sound wherever you may go.

Easy-breezy moves with Relocations WA

Moving house is never easy. But with Relocations WA, you’ll find the kind of moving assistance we offer to be efficient, friendly, safe and reliable – whether you’re moving locally, interstate or overseas, and whether you’re moving with pets, an art collection or lots of books.

We’ll make sure everything is safe and intact during your move. So, there’s really no need for you to worry about your books – we’ll take care of them as if they were our own.

If you’re moving soon, please get in touch with us.

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