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Topic: Damaged Books due to Post Office??

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Subject: Damaged Books due to Post Office??
Date Posted: 10/25/2011 9:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2011
Posts: 1
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Hey guys, 

So I'm really new to this site and really like the idea behind it, but I've mailed two books so far and BOTH have been damaged by UPS or weather conditions?  Granted I don't really mail that many packages, but the fact that this site tells you all you need to use is the printed out printer paper is totally misleading and wrong.  They should at least give us helpful cheap ways to package the books safely - like wrap them first in a plastic grocery bag, then a paper grocery bag, and then securely place the printed lable with plently of packing tape all around the package.  I've used plently of packing tape on my neatly folded paper packages but apparently it's not enough.  I would really like some tips - I haven't gotten any books mailed to myself yet to see how others do it...




Date Posted: 10/25/2011 10:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,615
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Many people use bubble mailers.  You can reuse them from books sent to you.  You can use other types of heavy paper too.  The printer paper mailer is really only good for single regular size paperbacks, not hard cover or trade size.  You can also use other types of mailing envelopes, be sure to wrap/tape  loose edges tightly and corners well so they don't get caught on USPS machinery.  Don't use any mailng materials from the 'priority' mail system to mail items media mail.  The PO will make you or recipient pay the full priority mal price if you do that.  Many people prewrap in plastic to help the package stay intact, but it's not required.  I save all kinds of plastic from various things (not food) like grocery bags, clothing bags, etc.  Read through the forums regularly and you will see many discussions on wrapping methodology.

Date Posted: 10/25/2011 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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If you don't mind my asking Rachel, what have you mailed that arrived damaged?  Hardcover, mmpb, CD, tradesize?  As LInda mentioned, in my experience the two sheet mailer is entirely adequate for a mmpb (or even two) with plastic underwrap and packing tape.  For thick books, I often take a couple wraps over the plastic to firm up the 'brick' and support the spine enroute, then apply outer wrapper.  Some of the other bindings may travel better with different options. 

PBSers tend to recycle alot.  I've reused bubble mailers with 4 or 5 addresses on them already (covered of course).  Small boxes, and those cardboard book mailers from Amazon  and B&N.

If you are experiencing an unusally high number of damaged books, it could be one of the sorting centers...discuss it with your postmaster.  If you use DC, it might be helpful to take in a few numbers from books that were damaged enroute and see what locations they might have in common.

Date Posted: 10/26/2011 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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<<They should at least give us helpful cheap ways to package the books safely>>

The Help Center document titled "How to wrap a book" provides exactly this.

Date Posted: 10/26/2011 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2011
Posts: 708
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I think all my packages have arrived safely.  I use bubble mailers for the hardback and audio books. For regular paperbacks, I wrap them in leftover plastic (The stuff my newspaper gets delivered in is great!) I make sure all the seams have tape and the corners too. And I don't leave any tape sticking up. I'm bad at covering the corners so  a little tape ends up hanging over the edge. It either gets cut off or taped down again.  Then I place a strip of tape over the "to" and "from" addresses. Just in case it gets wet, the ink won't smudge.

Last Edited on: 10/26/11 7:16 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/27/2011 3:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,283
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For mass market paperbacks, I use the printer paper wrapper. I've sent out hundreds, and I've only had 1 arrive damaged my whole membership.

One layer of plastic wrap to protect the book, printer paper wrapper around it, AND packing tape to fully seal all seams, AND packing tape at least once fully around the book, in both directions (length and width).

For hardcovers or trade size paperbacks, you can still use paper, honestly, but you must use more ... enough to fully cover the book on all sides, and plenty of tape. I sometimes use paper, I sometimes re-use bubble wrappers that others have sent me, it just depends. Trade size paperbacks are the most tricky, because if you just wrap them in paper, sometimes they are still flexible (and if they flex, then the package can rip more easily. So, if the trade size book is stiff all on its own, I might wrap it in paper, but if it is too flexible, then I use something sturdier, like a bubble wrapper.

No matter what you use, the wrapper is best if it is taped tightly around the book, not loose. (Loose books rattle around inside the package and can rip it open from the inside as it gets tossed around.). And, use plenty of packing tape. All seams, and at least once completely around the book in each direction.

Date Posted: 10/27/2011 8:06 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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USPS has a damage rate of less than 1% for properly packaged parcels. So an average person should have less than 1 package in every 100 sent be "damaged by USPS" if you have more than 1 in 100 damaged, you really need to take a hard look at how you are packaging. Ask someone at the post office who has had experience at a sorting facility for their honest opinion of your packing attempt. Don't trust a window clerk who has only been a window clerk, they dont see how the packages get sorted at these sorting facilities. 

when the packages get to the sorting facilities they are usually in containers called OTRs (over the road) these are huge metal containers on wheels. 2 containers take up the width of a semi and I think 12 or so fill up the length of an average semi. These OTR's are dumped onto a conveyer belt just like a trash truck dumps a big dumpster.If your package cant survive this kind of tratment, it's not packaged properly.

Date Posted: 10/28/2011 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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Hi Rachel, check out this thread, there are a lot of great tips there! http://www.paperbackswap.com/Tips-Making-Paper-Mailers-Work/topic/224782/