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I'd like to offer some helpful suggestions for the packaging and mailing of large boxes of books. If you don't often run book "deals" or have someone ordering twenty books from you all at once, you may never need to send out large boxes of books. However, if you do, you may wonder how to safely ship them.
I am currently a delivery supervisor in a rural Kentucky post office. After spending the last 26 months at a mid-sized Distribution Plant in Lexington, KY - as well as doing a lot of deals on PBS where I order 20-80 books at a time - I have seen a lot of good and bad packaging methods. Usually a heavy box of books will break open during handling for a few reasons: 1) A large lightweight cardboard box is used for packaging the books. 2) A box is not sufficiently taped shut. 3) A box is too large for the amount of books being shipped and the books are able to shift around inside the box and split the box at the corners.
Books in quantity are HEAVY. Please use a sturdy box that is the right size for the quantity of books you are sending. Don't use a box that was used for multiple bags of potato chips. Yes, you may get that box free from the grocery story but it was designed for a lightweight product and not for books. PBS suggests filling space with plastic grocery bags and crinkled paper and that does work when you have a small area to fill. If you can't find a box that fits the books you are mailing and you have to use one that is more than just a little too big, here are some suggestions.
These suggestions are more for the "larger than a shoe box" type of book deals but are applicable for many packages.
1) Use a heavy duty box that is well taped on the bottom.
2) Make book "bricks" and place them in plastic grocery bags (this keeps the books in a solid mass and provides some water protection, as well). I have received several boxes where the plastic bag is the only reason books did not fall out of the split corner of a box.
3) If the box is too large you can use an empty smaller box that is taped shut as a filler. Another filler material would be solid styrofoam pieces that you recycle. If you use shredded paper or styrofoam peanuts, please put them in sealed plastic bags. Shredded paper makes a mess in books.
4) When you are done, make sure you tape the box well! Not just across the top, but any flap edge. It's always better to use too much tape than not enough. Keep in mind that the Post Office is a highly mechanized, factory-like delivery system - boxes do get tossed around and they do get processed by machines.
The maximum weight on a box of books that you can ship media mail is 70 pounds. I would recommend if it's that big of a book deal that you may want to use a couple of smaller boxes. The postage savings is still great compared to mailing out books individually.
For those smaller book orders (shoebox sized or less) a lot of the same principles apply. Please use enough tape on the large bubble mailers, including the factory sealed end, (which has a tendency to pop open) and pack the books tightly and tape down excess portions of the bubble mailer.
The Post Office spends a lot of time, money, and effort trying to piece back mail, repackage boxes and deliver damaged mail to the proper owner. This only works with your support. You would not believe the number of mail pieces that are mailed without a return address or zero information inside the box, package or letter. There is nothing wrong with having a copy of the PBS invoice inside the box.
Please don't send cash through the mail, buy a Postal Money Order and fill it out properly, you would not believe the number of letters I have found split open or unsealed with $10's, $20's, $50's and $100 dollar bills inside.
I hope this information is helpful.
Patricia, thank you for the info and I'm glad I pass the test with my box mailing method. I get all my boxes from the office and it is amazing how easily it is to obtain boxes that way. Make friends with the IT department, they are always getting new computer type stuff and those boxes are great, not to mention the styrofoam peanuts or air filled packets.
In the past week I have received around 25 boxes of books (single book up to 80 book boxes) and so far I have 3 busted boxes with missing books. (not to mention 2 RWP for water damaged books - damaged by sender)
One box was a nice set of 24 WWII Encyclopedias with book number 14 being AWOL.
Remember "Tape is your friend" :) Please tape heavy boxes well.
Don't forget that if you invert or brown paper wrap Priority mail boxes and send them Media Mail they will come "Postage Due" I have had three come to me in less than a week.