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Topic: Taping to Excess? Mailers?? Recycling???

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Subject: Taping to Excess? Mailers?? Recycling???
Date Posted: 7/20/2008 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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I have a serious question here (though this is PBS my pet peeve).

I got a larger sized reference type book (paperback, not hardcover) yesterday.  It was wrapped with printer paper and absolutely encased with clear packing tape.  It was another package that I had to use manicure scissors to open.

Why do those who create packages like these (with all that tape!) do it? 

I understand that you want to protect the book during shipping, but wouldn't it be a lot easier, quicker, and cheaper to recycle an old mailer and tape the label & edges?  Or even buying envelopes yourself?  Granted it's only a couple pages of printer paper which would be cheap by itself, but don't the costs of the tape used make it a lot more expensive to use just paper & tape?  Even if the tape comes from the Dollar Store?  And time consuming to wrap a package completely in tape after you've already spent the time & effort to wrap it in the paper? 

I broke down and bought poly mailers on eBay a long time ago.  I first bought larger ones so I could cut them to size.  I tired of that pretty quickly since I am not the best wrapper in the world and went back and got ones that are small enough to send mass market paperbacks and large enough to fit trade sized and most hardcovers.  I didn't pay as much for them as I would have buying them at a store.  I hope that people are reusing the mailers I send.  Tape on a label, tape it shut, and mail.

Please, please, please consider using a recycled wrapper or using a new one that others can recycle, like the poly ones or something else like a heaver shopping bag (like the plastic bags at my Whole Foods).  Especially as most people seem to be using the tape to also protect the book from the elements.

Thanks for letting me vent.  I really don't mean to criticize but am truly puzzled by this.

PS:  If any of you tapers out there are interested, I'll send you 10 of the leftover poly bags for $1 plus shipping.  (I have so many that I am never going to use them all.)  They are approximately 15"x22" self-sealing and can eaisly be cut down to wrap four hardcovers.  And they are a fun blue color that will jazz up your packages!

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 5:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/16/2006
Posts: 198
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Kind of hijacking, but what eBay seller did you buy your mailers from? The seller I was buying from is no longer a registered user.

I cut a book the other day trying to get it out of the package. =( So, I can feel your pain.

I am currently mailing using manilla envelopes, and I do use a long of tape, but not that much. I tape both ends of the envelope, because the sealed side looks like it needs reinforcing, and then I tape over the entire label, save the bar code and DC number. Its just too much trouble to me to wrap books at all, much less wrap them in tape after that!

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 5:50 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2006
Posts: 1,464
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Taper here.

I tape even the mailers. 

Media Mail is an afterthought to the USPS, and is "tossed" in whereever there is room.  I value the books too much not to tape it in its' entirety. (not that others don't value books).   I cringe when I see a damaged book.

There is no happy medium, somewhere someone will or will not appreciate whatever we (collectively) do.

Last Edited on: 7/20/08 5:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/20/2008 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2005
Posts: 131
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Ange, I've often wondered the same thing --- and I've had to do the "surgical procedure" on some packages to get through all those massive layers of tape.  Ugh.... as much of a pain as it was for me to try to cut through the tape without damaging the book, I can just imagine how much time it took the sender to "mummify" the package in multiple layers of tape that way.   And as you said - even if one was using "cheap" tape, that still adds up to a lot of tape to completely coat the entire package.  

I can't recall the seller's name, but I bought a BUNCH of poly mailers on ebay a little while back - they averaged out to about 10-12cents each after adding in the shipping cost.   These are the super-tough plastic mailers that will not tear, they're self-sealing, etc.   SO much easier to just tuck a book into the mailer, seal the end, tape the label on & go.  Plenty of different sizes, so it's easy to get it as "fitting" as possible.   I do yarn swaps & send out other stuff a lot too, so these mailers are just fantastic.   I bought a huge quantity at the time, so now I can't remember who I got them from - but I know there are many sellers over there who carry them.


Date Posted: 7/20/2008 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2008
Posts: 2,528
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I've arrived 2 books this past week that were opened and had to be re-taped by the P.O. In those cases I wouldn't have minded a little more tape.  I'd have to say, I'd rather be the one to damage the book opening it, rather then receive the package without the book even in there. When I sending out books I'm guilty of over taping.

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 6:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,316
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I'm a taper, but I use bubble wrap mailers and tape securely.  I have a hard time when just printer paper is used to wrap the book, as I have hands that are old and it's very, very difficult to open the packet when it's 'just paper'.  At least with the mailers, you can cut the top off and get the book out.    Pat

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 6:48 PM ET
Member Since: 2/15/2006
Posts: 284
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OK, I'm a taper. And I have to admit I have to bite my tongue not to complain when I have to open a package wrapped the very same way I send them out. I keep meaning to go someplace and get some bags. I'm not buying them on ebay. But if you just use the printing paper it just seems like I end up making a mummy out of it with tape. First  I have to tape all the seams, then the ends and the next thing you know, the entire book is covered.

I'll get some bags soon. Maybe tomorrow.


Date Posted: 7/20/2008 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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The mailers you described sound exactly like the ones I use -- a plastic that needs a scissors to be opened, not a WalMart or thin grocery plastic.  I have them in two sizes, too (along with these very big blue ones that I currently use for oversized books.  And I also use them to mail other things, too.  I mail stuff to my neices, nephew, dad, and mother-in-law because it's fun to get a package in the mail and I don't have a car so I don't see them often.


I am not a fan of damaged books, but I am a librarian so I know that books wear and have to be replaced or tossed from time to time.  Especially the well-loved ones.  I think of it more like the book (most of them, anyway) are consumables.  I devour them like I would food.  I can also pass them along to "hungry" readers when I am looking for the one that fits my needs now (like clothes). 


I can't tell anymore who I bought the smaller sized poly mailers from on eBay.  The bigger blue ones I got directly from the manufacturer, not eBay.  I do know there are tons & tons of sellers just from a quick & dirty search of "poly mailers."  I think I got 6x9 and 9x12; I was able to find a combo of 10 of each size for $1.66 +$3.15 shipping (sorted by cheapest first).  I just wish I could find them in those sizes in colors instead of boring white!  Like I said above, getting a package in the mail is fun!


Date Posted: 7/20/2008 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 11/24/2005
Posts: 5,638
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Last Edited on: 2/21/10 7:17 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/20/2008 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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I can also atest to the fact that those super poly mailers are not indestructable. Got on that had been caught on a roller somewhere and it was stuck long enough to eat thru the poly mailer and a part of the cover. I'm sure it doesn't happen often, but it is a fact that they get damaged too (of course the mummified taped book would have had the exact same burn thru, so I wasn't excusing the mummified, just saying :)

Hubby never mummifies, and always makes me a little nervous with how little he uses. His pkgs are always nice and tight, with tape along all edges, corners, and the ends. Snug wrapping, fair amount of tape, but I still worry about them. If it was me, I'd probably mummify!

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 7:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2006
Posts: 387
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I don't completely encase books in shipping tape (I use plastic wrap for waterproofing), but after a couple of years on PBS I'm a big believer in "too much" tape being infinitely preferable to too little. The post office can be extremely rough on packages.

ETA: I have sent out well over a thousand books, and have received no complaints and many compliments on my thoroughly taped wrapping. No damage in the mail, either. Also, I've never damaged a book when opening the package, no matter how it was wrapped. It just takes a utility knife and a steady hand. In conclusion, tape is good.

Last Edited on: 7/21/08 11:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/20/2008 7:31 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2007
Posts: 2,695
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I'll add another facet to the thought of using mailer envelopes...unless you tape it down so that the book does not shift around in the package you are likely to end up with the requestor getting a damaged book...so, even with the mailers the book needs to fit snug in there...

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2005
Posts: 131
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Ange, where do you buy your mailers from?   I buy my shipping boxes direct, but when I compared prices, I got the poly mailers cheaper through the ebay dealer than I could get them through my regular suppler.   Ten cents each was a decent price, but if I can get them even cheaper (grin)    I know how rough the mail can be, I don't trust any kind of  paper-based mailer or "everyday recycled boxes" for mailing anything - it's tear-proof plastic or heavy-duty shipping boxes for me..... 

And I agree, Sherry - if something got trapped in the machine the way you described, *any* kind of packaging would have been torn up.    But the good quality poly mailers are about as close to indestructible as you can get, IMO, those and tyvek mailers, but the tyvek is more costly.

My worst ever experience with mail handling --- I got a large package once several years ago - it had been "damaged & re-packed" by the post office at the last distribution point it hit.   It quite literally must have been run over by something - there were big black tire imprints up one whole side of the box & when I opened it, everything had been just thrown hodge-podge back into the box & there was something that looked like nasty black engine grease all over the contents of the package.   I was fit to be tied & raised bloody heck with the post office over that one..... Even the mailman who delivered it to me was shocked & upset over it, and helped me with filing the complaint & insurance paperwork.

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2008
Posts: 880
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If you want to buy bubble mailers in large quantities, do a Google search for Linton Labels.  Size #0 runs $.13/per envelope and I think there's 200 in a case.  Size #0 works fine for my mass market paperbacks.  Linton Lables ships free.  I've given up trying to find good deals for bubble mailers on Ebay.

To save money on shipping supplies, I make my own "clamshell" boxes.  I get those flats from the grocery that tostito salsa jars, shasta soda, and gatorade bottles come in.  Cut two slits in each side, two folds, and your done. Very easy.  You can use old plastic grocery bags to protect the book from getting jostled around.

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 10:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,204
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A book loose in a mailer/envelope is much more likely to get damaged in transit that a book snuggly wrapped in paper with good taping on all the edges. All but one of my damaged books came in those manilla envelopes and were not taped snuggly; the other was a loose bubble mailer.

I always reuse bubble mailers (the heavy plastic ones are always damaged too much when opening to reuse), but I end up using more tape to secure the envelope than I do when I use the printer paper on the single MMP or postal paper on larger orders.

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 11:50 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I like to go above & beyond in terms of protecting what I mail from water damage & etc, but I have to admit that there have been a few that when I got done with them, I halfway felt sorry for the person who had to surgically remove their book from that:P  On the one hand, it's a pain to unwrap overly taped things & very upsetting to accidentally damage something cutting packing tape away.  On the other, it's just as upsetting to get water or shipping & handling damaged books that weren't well protected when shipped too.  Instead of using two layers of printer paper for single mailings, I like to use plastic coated freezer paper or the plastic coated brown wrapping paper for the first layer.  There's some waterproofing there (although I put everything in plastic bags 1st anyway), and that paper doesn't shred or tear as easily AND you don't have to overtape.  Aside from which, the coated paper costs you less in the long run than buying packing tape in bulk anyway:)

Oh, another alternative wrapping paper that's just as sturdy - Insulate the books in some sort of plastic bag (I use generic brand food & bread bags) and print your labels on cardstock.  This gives you a waterproof inner layer & a sturdy outer wrapping that you don't have to use excess tape to reinforce.

Last Edited on: 7/20/08 11:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/21/2008 12:30 AM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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Another part of the reason I switched to the poly bags was the number of people I read about in the postal forum who always seemed to have packages left out in the weather by the mail carrier.  And for all those people who have to go pick up packages at the PO because they don't fit into their mailbox.  I figure a mailbox by the side of the road that a lot of people in less urban areas have could fit a trade sized book if it comes in a bag (or PBS wrapper) than something like a box.  I am in an apartment and MMPs don't fit in my box but I am home during the day (and the tenants have an understanding with the mail carrier about where to leave packages if no one answers).   (And because they weigh almost nothing so they don't add to my postage costs.)

Nickie --

The bigger, colored poly bags I bought from ULine when they were running a really great deal.  I got a catalog from them that was addressed to the previous tenant of my apartment.  I bought two sizes more than a year ago and still have many left over -- hence my offering of $1 +sh for 10. 

The smaller white ones I got on eBay but don't remember what the seller's name was.

Teresa --

I bought the holiday bubble mailers that are made by Linton from someone on eBay.  LOL!  I never knew where the eBay person was getting them before today.  I thought they would be nice for the holiday season.

Date Posted: 7/21/2008 12:47 AM ET
Member Since: 7/2/2006
Posts: 87
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Outside wrapping: I usually use previously used manila envelopes (or new paper bags). 

Inside wrapping: some sort of plastic (usually a new Baggie or Ziplock bag or plastic that I purchased something in; not usually grocery bags).

I securely tape the perimeter of the book and the label, as well as where the paper ends (which I try to line up with the book opening) with packaging tape.

ETA: this adds minimal weight and size to the book; it's no less likely to fit in the receiver's mailbox than the book itself and hasn't tipped the scale over. Also, because it's snug, it isn't bouncing around back and fourth.


To the best of my knowledge, none of my books have ever been reported damaged and nobody has complained about the packaging (I've even received a few thanks for the plastic). I've never received a book that has been damaged in transit, though once I ordered something on Amazon's Marketplace where one short end of the mailer was wide open and my VHS came out (I did get a full refund).

Last Edited on: 7/21/08 12:53 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/21/2008 1:33 AM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2008
Posts: 880
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I'll admit to not being a huge fan of bubble mailers but I am more paranoid than I need to be! :-)  I don't mind receiving books in bubble mailers, but I'm nervous about using them!  Weird eh?  I prefer to use the clamshell box idea for the most part, but anything can get damaged in the mail.   The bubble mailers are nice if  you can ship a book for under 7 ounces at the first class rate.  For me, anything over that can go in a box and ships media mail. 

I've been really impressed at how conscientious people are when they mail books.  So far I have not had any problems with damage.  And almost always they enclose the book in some kind of plastic in case the package gets wet.  I buy plastic baggies to protect the books.  The food & bread storage bags are great for the larger trade paperbacks as well as hardcovers, and it only ends up costing me a few cents a book to buy these. 

One last dig at bubble mailers and I'm done!  ;-)  Something most people don't realize is that a lot of damage done to a book is due to using the wrong size mailer to ship a book.  A book that is tight and secure inside a bubble mailer is not going to get as beat up as one that is loose inside a mailer, getting caught in a machine not withstanding!  If you have an ovesized mailer that you want to use, you can cut it down or tape it so that the mailer fits snugly around the book.  And of course always reinforce the corners with tape. 

Ange, holiday mailers!  Too cute, I will have to keep my eyes open for those!  Thanks for the tip!



Date Posted: 7/21/2008 1:36 AM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2008
Posts: 880
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Christy & Melaine, oops, just went back to re-read and realized I totally repeated what you both said about loose mailers!  Sorry 'bout that!  :-)


Last Edited on: 7/21/08 1:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/21/2008 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2005
Posts: 131
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Thanks, Ange!   Ah, you must have caught them at a good sale price - I order various shipping supplies from both Uline and Browncor, but at the time I was looking for them , the ebay dealer had the best price on the poly mailers.   I'll have to keep a closer eye for sales at Uline - I just tend to forget to check until I actually need something....  

Date Posted: 7/21/2008 3:28 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 369
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I've got to say, I'm surprised by the number of people who think putting a ton of tape on the package is helpful.  Counting book swapping sites, I've mailed nearly a million books over the years.  Buyers are way pickier than swappers, since they're doling out far more cash for their book, and I have had exactly zero books lost due to poor packaging - and one eaten by the PO's rollers.  Out of almost a million! 

Better yet, I've had zero complaints about packaging and, again, buyers are way pickier.  I use bubble mailers for swaps and the free Priority packaging for sales.  I tape the self-adhesive part of any packaging because I don't trust it and, periodically, I feel the need to tape a seam.  That's it.

I hate getting over-taped packages, but I blame PBS for that - they're the ones who tell people that that's the "right" way to ship a book.  The "instructions" even say "It is always better to use too much tape than not enough!"  Whenever I mutilate a book trying to open the package, I complain to PBS, not the sender. :-P

Date Posted: 7/21/2008 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 4,996
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If I get a book with a lot of tape, I make a small slit in the tape or look for a loose edge.  Then I just unpeel the layers.  Works like a charm and doesn't damage the book.

Subject: Im a Taper
Date Posted: 7/21/2008 10:45 AM ET
Member Since: 3/30/2008
Posts: 113
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I also use tape. ALOT of it. BUT I make sure to leave a slit  somewhere on the package that you can use to insert scissors and cut. I've had no complaints and quite a few "Thank yous". So I guess it all depends on your personal preferences.My profile states that Im a taper and to slow down and look for the opening :)

I have received books/Audios in all types of packages. From bags ,boxes, to 2 sheets of paper. So far NOT one problem. I think our shipping methods are like our reading habits. Varied, but all good in their own way.

Personally I think the plastic is the MOST important piece of the puzzle. We've had Inches of rain the past few weeks and so far no water damage. My books sit outside in the postbox,the outside is soaked but the books are always dry when I unwrap them.

BTW...No matter how we wrap I LOVE PBS!

Date Posted: 7/21/2008 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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I recycle a lot, and also buy bubble mailers in several sizes. Some thin books I put in standard brown envelopes, but I always make sure I also secure the book  protected in a shopping bag to sturdy cardboard.

Last week, someone had ordered 15 of my books. I had a great box but it wasn't quite full enough. My partner in crime, who is 10, said, "Gran, we have a lot more books than bubble wrap or airbags left." So iIlooked at the person's wish list and added 2 unposted books I thought they would like.

I am also known to use unpostables as padding. Like those Chick-fil-e books for people ordering children's books. Unused post cards and Christmas cards.

My worst experience in receiving a book came today. Wrapped in newspaper, which smeared on me and the book.