How to Pack Books for Moving

Moving can be challenging for book lovers. Because they’re made from paper and paperboard, books require extra care to keep them safe from dirt, moisture, and impact. At the same time, they can be incredibly bulky and come in so many sizes they're hard to stack. Fortunately, getting your books safely to your new home is easier than you think. Learn how to pack books for moving by following these simple steps.

Use Small Boxes

It’s easy to overpack books when you use a large box. By limiting the number of books you can fit inside, small boxes ensure each one is reasonably light and easily manageable. In addition, small boxes leave less room for books to shift around, which keeps them from being bent or jostled during transit.

Buy Moving Boxes

Books are surprisingly heavy for their size, which means ordinary boxes generally aren’t strong enough to support their weight. Professional moving boxes, on the other hand, can support up to 50 pounds. Movers are the most reliable source. They can supply all you need at a reasonable price. You can also look for them at your local hardware or office supply store. For a cheaper alternative, ask your friends or go to your local liquor store. Liquor boxes are designed to hold heavy loads and liquor stores have so many, most give them away for free.

Double Tape the Seams

Seams are the weakest part of any box. Most movers already recommend taping the outside seams, but when packing books, it’s a good idea to tape the inside seam as well. The tape shouldn’t only cover the center flap, but extend halfway up the walls of the box. Add a third layer if you’re using a recycled box. Besides fortifying the box, double or triple taping also helps prevent dirt and moisture from getting inside and damaging your books.

Wrap Books in Acid-Free Paper

Books packed tightly together often stick to one another, sometimes due to humidity, pressure, or adhesive residue left over from the price sticker. Because the paper and laminate in book covers break down over time, old books are particularly prone to sticking. But wrapping them in paper keeps them separate and safe.

Don’t use any paper, however. Acid-free paper is specially treated to remove lignin, an organic compound that causes wood pulp to degrade with time. For this reason, it’s used to preserve important records, such as documents, photographs, and books. If wrapping each book is too time-consuming, try interweaving the paper between the covers instead.

Group Books By Size

When packing, try to avoid placing books of different sizes into the same box. Large books should go with large ones and small books with small ones. This not only lets you use space more efficiently, it also provides mutual support. When books are placed next to books of similar sizes, they’re less likely to shift. Grouping books also prevents small books from being crushed or bent by larger ones.

Use a Mix of Packing Positions

Packing every book the same way is not only inefficient; it can actually be harmful. When it comes to books, the most effective packing method depends on whether the books are hardcover or paperback. Generally, paperbacks should be laid in flat stacks while hardcovers should be placed upright, with their spines against the box. Never place books with their paper edge facing down or against the side of the box, as it might damage the pages.

Fill the Empty Space in Each Box

Like any other fragile item, books should be packed firmly together so they can’t move around. If there is any space left after you’re done packing, fill it with packing paper to keep your books from sliding back and forth. Rags or towels work well too, as long as they’re clean. Don’t pack them too tightly though, since this can damage the bindings, just enough to prevent them from shifting.

Label Your Boxes

Labeling boxes ensures they’re treated with the care they deserve. Besides listing their contents, your labels should indicate which way is up and whether the box is unusually heavy ‒ both for the safety of your books and your movers.

Help Packing and Moving Books

North American is a full service moving company. We don’t just ship your belongings, we help prepare them for the journey. Our teams are trained on the safest ways to pack and transport all household goods, including books. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, North American Van Lines has the skills, experience, and expertise to get you there. Contact us today for a free quote!