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Topic: How do you wrap/what do you use to wrap your books?

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Subject: How do you wrap/what do you use to wrap your books?
Date Posted: 8/31/2010 9:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2005
Posts: 27
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I recently sent out a book that arrived folded in half.  The receiver marked RWAP sender, and not "damaged by USPS."  Her rationale was that since I didn't include any cardboard inside or write "do not bend" on the outside, it wasn't the postal service's fault.  I sent it by First Class Parcel (for rigid packages), but it was a children's 8x8, so they're kind of bendy.


At this stage, I'm not really concerned about the transaction/credit refund issue, since I'll just refund it and we'll call it done.  But I do wonder how many potential issues you can typically safeguard against.  For your basic, everyday transaction, how much packaging do you add?  Do you add a layer of plastic, cardboard inserts, return address inside the package (my mother does this religiously when we mail out gifts), plastic envelope, paper envelope, etc.?  Do you often get good results using just the paper PBS wrapper, and the rest of us are just being paranoid?  (For me, sometimes it depends where it's going -- I'll change things up a bit if I'm sending something Alaska, Hawaii, or APO.)

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 10:26 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,207
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I always wrap in a plastic bag, and then use a bubble wrapper (if I have one handy) or wrap in brown shipping envelope and tape, tape and tape.  Mine look like bricks when they leave.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,046
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I would not refund the credit. Just because you did not wrap like they would have wrapped it, doesn't mean that you wrapped it wrong. 

PBS does not require the sender to package books such that they could survive any possible disaster happening ... just that they survive the normal mailing process.

I don't add anything to single books wrapped in paper or envelopes. PBS does not require it, and although I know there seem to be some weird mail delivery people out there, most packages seem to arrive just fine without needing to say "do not bend" on them.

If the receiver has a small mail box and her mailman is bending her packages to fit into it, maybe she needs to have a RC requesting people write "do not bend" on the packages.

My mailbox is wide and I never receive bent mail, so it would honestly never occur to me to write "do not bend" on something. Unless it was a single sheet of paper or a photograph or something like that.

I've mailed more than 700 books out and I use mostly the paper wrapper. (one layer of saran wrap, one sheet of paper, religious application of packing tape to about 75% of the wrapper). I have had only one book arrive damaged out of those more than 700. For hardcovers, I reuse bubble wrappers that have been sent to me. For odd size books, I wrap a manila envelope to fit tightly around the odd size. For multiple books, I make a brick by wrapping in plastic and than taping the books all together, then just wrap in paper. 

Tina D. (tinad) - ,
Date Posted: 8/31/2010 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2009
Posts: 350
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If I am sending just one book - I will wrap it in plastic first and then use the PBS wrapper.  I don't mummify it with tape but I make sure the seams/ends/corners are well taped.  And so far (+300 books sent) I haven't heard of a problem.

If I am doing 2-3 books - again I wrap in plastic and either re-use an envelope I might have received books in or I open a large manila envelope and use it to wrap around the books like a little brick.  Again making sure corners/ends/seam are well taped.

Anything more than 3, I will try to find a box to fit.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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I would try writing DO NOT BEND in huge letters all over the envelope when you send floppy books. Some mail people will respect that, some won't, but it doesn't hurt to try. 

My postmaster does sometimes try to force books into my tiny PO box which is pretty annoying, but so far nothing has been too much worse for the wear. 

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2005
Posts: 3,018
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I would not refund the credit.  You are not obligated to package a book with cardboard.  The post office bent it...the damage was there's.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 36,887
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I prewrap in plastic with the address inside the plastic.  If more than 1 book and they are different sizes I sometimes add cardboard the size of the larger book to make it more like a brick.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 2:27 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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What Sara said, "I would not refund the credit. Just because you did not wrap like they would have wrapped it, doesn't mean that you wrapped it wrong. 

PBS does not require the sender to package books such that they could survive any possible disaster happening ... just that they survive the normal mailing process."

You followed PBS wrapping guidelines, that is all that is required and a RWAP was uncalled for.  The fold probably doesn't make the book unpostable, so it's doubly wrong.  I've received thick TSPB that have been folded or rolled by my mail carrier, certainly no fault of the sender.

That said, I sometimes use cardboard to protect an outgoing book...depends on circumstances.  But most often, it's just recycled plastic underwrap and the PBS label sheet with a second blank under it (the PBS second sheet goes under the plastic as an emergency address JIC).  Shipping multiples (or sizes other than mmpb) means I dip into the recycled bubble mailers or small boxes.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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No refund.  You fulfilled your end of the deal.


Date Posted: 8/31/2010 3:18 PM ET
Member Since: 10/28/2008
Posts: 3,529
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I always cut two pieces of cardboard place one on top and one on the bottom then I wrap in plastic, then I wrap in brown paper. I have never ( knock on wood) had any problems with any of the books I mailed being damaged

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
Posts: 2,102
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The only books I have gotten damaged after mailed is to the corners. So I always tape my corners really well. Make sure to use packing tape not scotch tape. I have had more books come damaged that have been in envelopes vs. brown paper.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 5:55 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2009
Posts: 173
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Last Edited on: 5/3/11 9:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/31/2010 6:04 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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I agree with Kay -- books slipped into manilla envelopes and then mailed with no tape to shape the envelope to the book is the biggest no-no in my book! I have received books just placed in envelopes and mailed and they arrive with the edges torn open and I am always amazed that books are still in there!

I usually use the paper PBS wrapper with plastic underneath (I have a large format printer so I can print up to 11 x 17 sheets), tape the ends securely and a piece of tape going around the book once in each direction (and protecting the address) and I've sent out well over 2,700 books with maybe 3 damaged in transit. Hardcovers, I always use a recycled bubble mailer. You can't prepare for every eventuality...sometimes very well-wrapped books get caught in post office equipment and are destroyed... As long as the book is securely taped with packing tape, no loose bits sticking out, you just cross your fingers and trust in the postal service!

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 31
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I bought a bunch of cheap ziploc slider bags. I cut off the slider and tape the plastic snuggly around the book. Then I wrap in the PBS wrapper, making sure the corners are neat and the seams are covered. I used to only use bubble mailers, but those can get expensive after awhile. If i'm sending a larger paperback or a hardcover I'll use a larger ziploc bag and I'll either use legal size paper or a paper bag. 

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 7:16 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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If your requester wants packaging above the PBS requirement, she needs an RC.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Another vote for not refunding the credit. It was damaged by the P.O., no matter how the sender tries to make it your fault.

There isn't anyting about wrapping in the rules that will prevent a postal worker from folding a book in half if they're inclined to do so.


Date Posted: 8/31/2010 11:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2009
Posts: 519
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I always wrap books with my foodsaver (unless I'm out then it's a plastic baggie well sealed and taped). Definately an overwrapper, but I want everyone to get their books in great shape. I'm just weird like that.

Date Posted: 8/31/2010 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2010
Posts: 388
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I vote to not refund the credit either.

Pam M. -
Date Posted: 9/1/2010 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2010
Posts: 421
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For paperbacks I use saran wrap, the paper wrapper and a lot of packing tape.  I try to leave enough places free of tape so that the recipient can open it (my pet peeve -- I've almost damaged books trying to unwrap them).

The one and only time I didn't use plastic the book was rain-damaged when it arrived.

I've received lots of books in bubble wrap or heavy brown paper.  Nice, but expensive.


Date Posted: 9/1/2010 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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Cut up plastic shopping bag and then brown paper (really not that expensive if you buy a big roll at an office supply store);for most of the books I send.  The printer wrapper usually doesn't fit, but I have used it on occassion.


Date Posted: 9/2/2010 2:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2009
Posts: 621
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I use a plastic bag - preferably from Subway (perfect book size) or one my cats have put a hole into (can't be used for trash, and I have to cut the bag to wrap the book anyway) - and put the "Message for the receiver" inside.  Tape the bag with scotch tape.  Then, use either the wrapper from copier paper or reuse packaging from another PBS swap.  Fold it snug around the book.  Tape up super-well with packing tape.  Tape on the upper part of the 1 page PBS wrapper using packing tape.  Scotch tape over the receiver's address but not over the bar code.  

Date Posted: 9/2/2010 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2006
Posts: 4,984
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I am recycler, so I usually reuse bubble wrap envelopes that have been sent to me.  But if I don't have one that's the right size then I will wrap the book in Tyvek (I have a leftover roll from when we remodeled our bathroom).  I just wrap it like you would a present, securely tape down all the edges, and copy the address onto the wrapping.  Easy to do, and waterproof in one step. 

I've only had one problem, and that was because a machine ripped the book practically in half.  That's another type of damage that's hard to avoid.

Date Posted: 9/2/2010 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,484
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I use old maps.  I was using paper grocery bags until I noticed how often the corners rub open.  Different stores have different quality of bags.  Kraft paper is sturdier than brown bags.  The maps are thinner than the bags but are made to be folded.  I'll use plastic inside.  Either a plastic shopping bag or one of those air bubble shipping things.  Cut the bigger size open and it is perfect for a paperback.

For floppy books or CDs, I use cardboard from cereal or cracker boxes.

The worse is loose manila envelopes.


Date Posted: 9/3/2010 12:12 AM ET
Member Since: 11/15/2008
Posts: 3,308
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I use recycled bubble mailers or wrap in some type of recycled plastic covered with paper.  Currently I'm using extra Home Depot Yard bags that my dad gave me.  The paper is really sturdy.  I also zealously tape the edges and corners.  I have added cardboard to really thin books, but I don't always do it. 

I definitely agree that you don't need to refund the credit.  If the reciever wants something over and above PBS standards she needs an RC.  I have one myself for plastic, after I got several sodden books last summer.

Subject: doesn't cardboard
Date Posted: 9/3/2010 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 12
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add to the weight of the package ?   If it does, and you are printing the postage through PBS, then I think at some point your packages would be overweight, wouldn't they ?

Until today, I recycled packaging from PBS swaps and used whatever plastic wrap (usually bubble) was available.  But as I have someone calling my wrapping *disgusting* and a credit demand, I will be rethinking this when I come back from my weather vacation.


Denise,  Suffolk County, NY