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Topic: Packaging advice please.... another OCD post from me!

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Subject: Packaging advice please.... another OCD post from me!
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:16 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2009
Posts: 39
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Ok, I am packing up books tonite and wanted to ask for opinions. I may start to seem a little bit obsessive, but honestly, I just like to really get to know what other members prefer or think when I first join up. I like to hear what works and what doesnt from people who have tried it. I did the reading in the HC as well.

The whole idea of joining for me was saving money, so I REFUSE to go out and spend a ton on some kind of wrapping that may in the end fail anyways. I'm not a super cheap-skate either. I just wanted a popular opinion on the best and most common method. My printer seems to be goofy and cannot get it going, so I am first of all going to have to hand write the info on them. (Sharpie on a SEPARATE blank index card BEFORE i put it on the package of course!) I dont think that just wrapping it up with a sheet or two of printer paper is a good idea anyways even if the printed info is somewhat better.

I buy GOOD packing tape, not the thin flimsy stuff. Easier to work with for me.

So, here are my options....

Plastic shopping bags (NOT produce bags!) or Gallon zip seal bags if the book will fit? Any other suggestions?

I have large manilla envelopes and while the book doesn't fit every time, I can cut them and tape them together to make it larger. I first adjust a walmart bag to fit neatly removing the excess then taping that to itself. Layer 2 is manilla envelope (metal clasp removed) which I have cut and folded to fit tightly to the book. I tape that well, focus on the corners. The second layer is ANOTHER manilla envelope cut and folded in the same fashion. I then tape the ENTIRE outside parameter one time. ALL of my seems on this layer have tape edge to edge. Then I tape my prewritten index cards to the package, covering the ENTIRE label and a little beyond. ready to go, hopefully not by Media Maul (still laughing Bernard!)

Option 2, The good ole brown bag. Yes, they're FREE, but, if I use the plastic shopping bag, then ONE layer of brown bag over it with the same method of tape will it survive? Or should I consider 2 layers? It's a bit heavier, so, is taping all the way around really necessary? Same technique with my label of course. (I'm just stuck on them, they work.)

Option 3, go purchase small boxes (or snag freebies if I can find suitable ones) and pack the book in the closest fitting box? Should I wrap the book with something, bag it, then put it in the box with crumpled paper?

Option 4, the brown paper rolls for packages? Not really that expensive, but is it any better than the brown bag or manilla envelope?

Option 5, Cushioned Envelope......more on the expensive side, and limited in size of the book, but worth it whenever possible?

Anything else? I'd just like to know what others use that works for them. Also, should I mark the package KEEP DRY? or is that an open invitation for Media Maul to use it as a floatie in the pool? Advice welcome! Thank you!

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:30 AM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2008
Posts: 89
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I use "option 2" for most books. It works fine as long as you remember to re-inforce the edges with tape.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:34 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I can only tell you what I do - I wrap the book in plastic that is clean and dry and form fit it to the book. Then I put it in a poly-bag mailer that I form fit to the book.  Poly mailers are fairly cheap and water-proof as long as they aren't sliced by something.  I use lots of good quality tape.  If I do not use a poly mailer but a manila mailer I make sure there is padding - I recycle those sent to me.  I always tape both ends well, I tape down the edges of the book, and I make sure to tape all sides and the address of the asker so it doesn't run if rained on.  I don't like brown paper grocery baags because if they get wet - they disintegrate - literally.  I really am not crazy about mainila mailers because they frequently don't hold up during the journey unless they are mummified in tape.  I know others will disagree - but that is my experience on the receiving end.  The plastic I use is either recycled from books sent to me or they are the air-pillows used as cushioning in packages sent to me by Amazon, etc.  I don't like to USE food wrap because I'm food wrap challenged.  I've used cut to fit plastic from dry cleaner bags and from plastic packaging from groceries like toilet paper - like the outside plastic wrapping for Charmin.  It's clean and tough.  I always inspect for holes.  I don't buy plastic.  I've used Tyvek - but that can be really expensive if you don't know where to buy it cheap - and I don't.  I just found someone on eBay to buy the poly-mailers and they were cheap. If wrapped carefully, they can be re-used.


Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2007
Posts: 3,773
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i reuse the padded envelopes i get my books in. i just open them really carefully and save them in a box. i have a whole bunch, different sizes. i haven't bought new envelopes in 2 years!

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:42 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,225
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As long as you use some type of moisture-proofing, make sure all wrapping is tight to the book, and tape all edges and seams, the paper you use won't matter that much. The heavier the book, the more layers of paper in my opinion. I will agree that manila envelopes have the highest failure rate coming to me, lightweight paper lunch bags and loose bubble mailers are probably tied for second. No books wrapped in the computer paper have been damaged that I recall.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:47 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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The computer paper doesn't disintegrate like the grocery bags do if exposed to any kind of moisture.  And the manila envelopes frequently aren't form-fitted to be a tight package so it tears from the book being thrown around inside.  They also suffer from being "pierced" by other packages and then tearing after that.  LOTS of tape, plast pre-wrap, formfitted outside wrapper.


Subject: Packing books
Date Posted: 2/17/2009 12:48 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,445
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I think I have used every choice listed at one time or other.  I go put a layer of plastic in there first.  The palstic my newspaper comes in is perfect for a paperback...then put it in a manilla envelop andfold it in half and tape.  That is how i did the one I wrapped today.  You can reuse the  padded envelopes you get from other orders.  You can recycle alot of packing supplys.  I also use the plastic bags that hold paper plates from work.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 1:10 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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I pay less than 17 cents for size #0 bubble mailers, which fit your average paperback quite well.  I also buy #1 bubble mailers for about 20 cents each.  I use half sheet self adhesive labels that cost me about 2 cents each.  The bubble mailers are moderately waterproof, self-sealing, and provide good protection for books. 

Using this system it takes me only seconds to weigh a book and mailer, print the label, attach it to the mailer, slide the book inside and seal it closed.  Most of the time I don't even see a need for any extra tape.

Total cost is under 25 cents per book, and saves me 10-15 minutes of work.  Since my billable hourly rate when I work starts at $60 /hr I consider my method to be very cost efficient.


Date Posted: 2/17/2009 1:22 AM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2006
Posts: 1,467
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Also, if you have a wallpaper store near to you, they usually put out their sample books for free when they're outdated.  I talking about the big books with pages of wallpaper samples. I don't know the dimensions off hand, but its big; much bigger than 8 1/2 x 11.  They are great to wrap books in, after the inisde layer of plastic first. And they're pretty too. Some of the books have small sheets of samples; those I let for someone else.  I only take the book(s) with the full size pages.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2009
Posts: 39
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Bernard, I think I can afford your $60 an hour just so I can LAUGH! Ruthie, I see you have sent and received LOTS and LOTS of books, so, I will for sure heed some of the advice. Food wrap challenged I am as well. I note that you are adamant about the waterproofing, and am tempted to ask you to come waterproof my whole house because lately things seem to be falling victim to mysterious liquid attacks ages 3 and 5. Hubby suggests that if you are in a city with some new housing going up, you might stop by if you see them working and inquire as to leftovers or miscut pieces, they're likely to happily GIVE it to you so they dont have to carry it to the dumpster at the end of the day. If it were me, I'd make him go do the asking! hehehe) 

As far as the manilla envelopes, I actually cut them so that they are a flat piece of paper, then wrap the item like a gift (lots of tape!) both layers get extra tape to the corners and all the way around the edges. It did just dawn on me that I have ROLLS of plastic that I had gotten at a garage sale brand new dirt cheap. The kind you put over windows or use in construction projects. I will likely use that because it's VERY durable. It's nearly impossible to pierce unless its a knife or blade. I think since I have them on hand I am going to attempt the double manilla envelopes but use that plastic beneath. I think the durability of that plastic will prevent damage even if the Maul Man uses it to fend off a Pitt Bull attack!  Im going to try that only on the ones that are not going to the other end of the country. And invest in better materials for the ones that will be traveling.

I do love the wallpaper idea, but in my area you dont run across those books often. I will definately re-use other good mailers when I get them, I always have done that.

Again, thank you all for the advice. I will certainly post as to how it turns out.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 2:29 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,805
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I honestly don't think it matters a bit what you wrap the books in!  Shocking, I know!   I've wrapped in gift wrap, computer paper, brown paper bags, gifts bags cut open and numerous other ways.  What matters is the tape!  Tape it well, including all edges.  I also always tape all the way around both directions, not matter what I wrap in.  There is no chance of the book coming out of the wrapping that way.   And yes, I use a plastic bag (grocery, ziplock, whatever I have on hand) no matter what I am using for the outter wrapper.  Poly bags DO get punctures from the machines and after that are NOT waterproof.

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 2:54 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2009
Posts: 39
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I do like to use what I have on hand as well. I just have read so many RWAP stories and thought it best to see what others had to say. Of course bargain hunting is one of my passions, and this plastic (even new) is some really tough stuff! And I got it for 25 cents a roll! I could wrap about 3000 books with what I have, so, why not give it a try!

And oh my we really should have a little area just for our own amusement when it comes to the postal service. It's not always the employee, but it never cesases to amaze me the things that happen to mailed items. I have sold and traded online for about 7 years and even when you THINK you have the perfect method, things end up in that "We Care" bag.

Note, UPS, Fedex, ALL of the other methods of moving goods seem to have the smash and deliver issue. Been there, tried that. At least books arent $1000 pieces of antuque glass!

Night All! Happy Swappin!

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 5:56 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
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I'm with Cozi on this one.  I've sent about 200 books in all types of wrappings, but predominately brown grocery bags, with no RWAP or other problem, and I've received about the same # in all types of wrappings, almost all arriving in good condition.  I think the key is to use common sense when wrapping and to ask yourself, will this package I've just wrapped survive some abuse?

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 7:11 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 74
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I'd vote for not completely mummifying the book in tape.  Corners yes, but leave somewhere that a scissors can get into the package without damaging the book. 

Date Posted: 2/17/2009 7:49 AM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2007
Posts: 453
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Just stay away from gift wrap (every single book I've rec'd in gift wrap was torn) and manila envelopes (also get torn).  Basically though, other than that the whole key is to make sure the wrapping is snug so the book doesn't move, and reinforce the ends with packing tape.  On the whole, the best looking packages I usually receive are actually the properly end reinforced computer paper ones!

Like others said I reuse what I receive my books in all the time.  I use plastic wrap usually for the waterproofing- quick, easy, and effective.

Your books are going to be fine because you are thinking about it.  Every once in awhile the USPS does something to a package that it doesn't matter how you wrapped it, it's gonna get wrecked!

Happy trading!


Date Posted: 2/17/2009 8:40 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Totally hate gift wrap & manila envelopes here.  Practically all of my damaged stuff came wrapped in one or the other.  For brown paper, if you get it to use at all - and it can be handy to have a roll stashed away for emergencies - get the plastic coated kind.  Office supply stores sell it & it's fairly inexpensive.  For plastic, I like to use a generic brand food & bread bags.  Those are in the foils & wraps section of the grocery store, and you can usually get a box of 75 bags for under $2.  No ziplocs or anything fancy - they come with twist ties, which I reuse elsewhere.  For wrapping on single book shipments, I get packs of cheap cardstock at Big Lots for about $5, and print my outer wrapper on that, and the second sheet on regular printer paper.  Then I just fold sheet 2 and put it inside the plastic bag with the book.  This way, if the wrapper gets chewed off by USPS manglers, I still have a destination address enclosed with the book, and the outer wrap of cardstock is good & sturdy.  One long piece of packing tape across the seam and well sealed ends, and it's good to go.  Multiple shipments, I've been doing lately inside individual plastic bags, which I then bundle inside of a layer or two of shrink wrap, which seals them into a sturdy, watertight bundle.  Then you can use some kind of heavy packing paper around the outside of that.  I use two layers of that as well, and then tape so that even if the ends or corners split, the watertight bindle inside still wont come out.  You can do this by banding a long strip of tape tape all the way around the package on either end.  Like a + sign.  Again, well sealed ends, and reinforce the corners where paper has a tendency to tear.

Date Posted: 2/18/2009 11:29 AM ET
Member Since: 7/3/2006
Posts: 1,153
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For the inner layer - a cheap source of plastic is a plastic party tablecloth - from a Dollar store.

It can be cut to any size you need to waterproof a book, and will inner wrap a lot of them.

I usually use a bubble mailer for the outer wrap - recycled or new.  Easy to buy for about 20 to 30 cents each, if you buy in quantity from eBay.

Date Posted: 2/18/2009 1:20 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2009
Posts: 176
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I like the bubble mailers.  I buy them at Wal-Mart but I am sure they can be found cheaper somewhere else.  I have had good luck with them so far.  To make sure that they are completely water proof I make sure to tape (packaging tape) the top, especially the edges of the top so that no moisture can get in.   I haven't had any complaints yet. 

I can tell you what I don't like, if it matters.  I don't like it when a book comes wrapped with so much tape on the outside that you have to use the scissors all over just to get it out.  I accidentally cut a dust cover on one that I received recently because of that.  The dust cover doesn't matter that much to me but it may to others that you send it to in the future. 

Last Edited on: 2/18/09 1:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/18/2009 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I've damaged a mummified book or two myself.  I have a small exacto-knife I use now and it works better than scissors.  A sharp serrated steak knife actually works better than scissors for getting under end tape & opening taped down seams.  I like bubble mailers but past experience has taught me that they aren't waterproof.  I've gotten a couple that I thought were taped down well and got wet inside.  These were on very rainy days & it's possible they spent more than a usual amount of time exposed to it, but the books did get wet in them.  I got two more books this week in manila envelopes with no reinforcement tape on the edges, etc. and no plastic.  I just got lucky it didn't rain, and they must have had a fairly uneventful trip:P

Date Posted: 2/18/2009 2:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2008
Posts: 36
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:O  It's good to know that brown paper bags have a propensity to dissolve!   I mummify mine in packing tape, which must have saved me that day when I spilled my own water on a just-wrapped book. 

For plastic, I like the plastic sleeves newspapers come in.  Sometimes a Sunday sleeve can hold a hardcover. 

Last Edited on: 2/18/09 2:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/18/2009 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 1,513
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I usually wrap in plastic of some sort first - form fitting the book. Then wrap in brown packing paper, again form fitting the book. Tape all edges and corners well. Address and done. If I have bubble mailers or other stuff like that I will reuse it as well but still always wrap in plastic first.

Date Posted: 2/18/2009 5:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 182
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I have tried all methods above. My favorite is 10 x 13 tyvek envelopes. At staples online, I got a box of 100 for $23.00. They are quick and easy, all books fit in them, and they just need a little tape to fit and tape for the label and off they go. I agree, the books that I receive damaged have usually been wrapped in brown paper and only have tape around the edges, thus the middle or right next to the tape has dissolved and ripped the package completely open.

IF is use the computer paper method, I completely mummify in tape.

Subject: Put it in a Box
Date Posted: 2/18/2009 5:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 10
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I almost always mail books in boxes.  You can buy adjustable book boxes in bulk for about 70 cents each.  I began using them when selling books on Ebay, and my customers always appreciated it.

If you don't want to buy boxes, you can cut cardboard to the same size and shape.  Then fold it around the book and tape it up. For most paperbacks, about an 18" square works.  Then cut out about 4" by 5.5"  from each corner to make the tabs.  For a hardback book, you can cut it to exactly the size you need.  Your customers will appreciate it.


Date Posted: 2/18/2009 5:48 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,697
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The dollar store is my friend!

I can buy a roll of plastic cling wrap and a roll of brown postal wrap and I'm good to go for quite a while for wrapping books.  Sometimes, they even have some good packing tape but I haven't needed to buy tape in a whlie.  I found some good quality stuff at Kmart on very cheap markdown and bought a bagful.

I can wrap any size book in that and even multiple books as long as they're the same size.

For a hardback book, I'll find a manilla envelope or bubble mailer to use but I don't have too many of those to send.

I've never had a book arrive with damage.  I agree, lots of tape is the key!

Date Posted: 2/18/2009 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I've sent and received hundreds of books.  My least favorite to receive are loose manilla envelopes & gift wrap as they appear to be more easily damaged (much gift wrap is rather brittle and the colors can run if wet).  I have found the recommended two sheets are surprisingly adequate, especially for mmpb size.

Otherwise, I recycle alot...brown paper bags, manilla & bubble envelopes.  For HB or odd size books, I've learned to fold down mailing envelopes so there is little or no "slop" to the package . I use alot of good shipping tape, but not every inch.  I live in a wet climate, and DO cover the address and bar codes (choose very clear tape) with a single layer of tape.

Last Edited on: 2/18/09 11:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1