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Topic: What happens when the books are wrapped in plastic

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Subject: What happens when the books are wrapped in plastic
Date Posted: 12/29/2009 6:23 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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Considering the fact that there are currently several threads on books wrapped in plastic, I find what happened today rather weird.  I received 6 books from a member that were wrapped tightly in a plastic shopping bag and then wrapped in manilla type paper.  The sender wasn't very generous with the tape on the package and the package had apparently gotten wet or damp.  The entire end of the package was torn off and it looked like the post office taped it back up.  I realized that if the books hadn't been wrapped in the pastic bag, they probably would have been lost because when the end blew out of the wrapping the books probably would have tumbled out into whatever bin it was tossed into.  And even if the books had stayed together, they probably would have been water damaged.  I am very happy that the member who sent me those six books took the time to wrap them in plastic.  It ensured that the books got to me in perfect condition.

But, this story is also a testiment to using plenty of tape on the package.  If it had been taped better on the ends, the package probably would not have fallen apart.

Date Posted: 12/29/2009 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,457
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I had a book saved by the plastic wrap as well.  Envelope had ripped open enough for the book to escape but the plastic wrap kept the book from sliding out.  PO hadn't even bothered to retape it.

I switched from using brown kraft paper to using plastic envelopes because I once had a book go to California and back to me.  By that time the brown paper had torn a little (even though I'd taped it securely) but the book was fine due to the plastic cling wrap I'd used.

Now I wrap in cling wrap and then put it in a plastic envelope.  I'm a firm believer in a plastic underwrap and lots of tape.

Date Posted: 12/29/2009 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,398
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But it can also lead to a real mess if water gets under the plastic.  Mold and mildew. 

Date Posted: 12/30/2009 10:42 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2009
Posts: 3
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My post office informed me that all Media Mail is periodicaly subject to "random" inspection, so that might explain the opened of packages. I don't know if that really happens, but even if the book had been wrapped in plastic, the re-wrapping of a book deliberately or accidentaly ripped open might not do the job. What is the perfect way to send?

Date Posted: 12/30/2009 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2007
Posts: 13,134
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Julie, I don't think there is a fool-proof, perfect way to send. I have received dozens of packages from amazon that are generally well wrapped, but have had two that were not.  One was because they just placed the books in a too-big box w/o zap-wrapping and the books got knocked around and bent considerably as a result.  The other involved books that were zap-wrapped but a smaller MMPB was placed on top of larger sized books, so when it was zapped, the top book got bent and the spine and part of the cover ripped.   Re: PBS mailings,   I personally think if the sending member takes the time and effort to wrap the book well (which means the paper or packaging used also is not too big or too small) and use an appropriate amount of packaging tape (NOT just scotch tape), as well as using plastic wrap for those sent in paper wrappers only, then the chances of water and processing damage are decreased. 

Date Posted: 12/31/2009 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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My post office informed me that all Media Mail is periodicaly subject to "random" inspection, so that might explain the opened of packages.

In my case, it was obviously a problem with the package ripping from becoming wet or damp.  I am curious as to how often they actually open a package to inspect Media Mail.  I know I have never received any books that looked like they were inspected.  I think an inspection would be most common if the box is an odd size for books.  It makes no sense to inspect a package that is shaped like a book.

What is the perfect way to send?

I'm not sure there is a "perfect way" but wrapping the books in plastic of some kind gives the book a better chance of making it to the recipient undamaged.  The other thing I think helps is, if the book is not in a box, wrap it tightly and use lots of tape.  And if you put books in a box, stuff something like newspaper in the box to keep the books from rattling around in the box.  

Date Posted: 12/31/2009 3:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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I have recieved two recently that were inspected.  They are suppose to include notificaiton that it was inspected and the package resealed.  The reseal job was "scotch tape"   Also there has been a lot of abuse in certain areas of the country -- WI bieng one of the states.  WI will have a higher inspection rate and they are actually stamping the packages that it is subject to inspection.  It does happen and it will happen if a clerk suspects that it is not what the person said it was.  BTW both books I recieved were brick wrapped. They looked like books but they were still inspected. 

I use boxes for HCs and I use USPS shipping paper or poly envelopes that I split so I can wrap like you would with the printer paper.   I use plastic wrap but many will use recycle plastic.  that is your option of course. 



Last Edited on: 12/31/09 4:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/31/2009 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,398
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I have received the inspected xerox.  And have had books that look like they were cut open without the note. 

My suggestions are to always use packing tape.  To tape over the address to keep it dry.  Always make sure that the wrapping is tight around the book.  Not loose in an oversized envelope.  The loose envelopes seem to get a lot more damage than any other wrapping method.

Date Posted: 1/1/2010 8:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2009
Posts: 4,581
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It might have just been a simple case of the envelope getting riped open on the maching devices.  That happens when packages are lose in the bigger envelopes.  the only way to stop that is to tape the envelopes but you use the envelopes not to have to use the tape.  So its a lose lose situation. 

Date Posted: 1/2/2010 1:51 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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In my experience, books are less likely to be damaged in transit if the wrapping is tight. Also, using extra tape around the edges and/or at the corners never hurts.

Books wrapped in oversized envelopes can slide around and are more likely to have bumped corners unless also wrapped with protective material inside the oversized envelope.

Date Posted: 1/2/2010 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,450
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Lately, I have been receiving more and more books with the book itself wrapped but not sealed in a Wal-Mart bag or equivalent. In at least a half-dozen cases this bag has been the only thing saving the book from serious damage. A long time ago, I took to loosely wrapping all books in bubble wrap. Wide, clear, shipping tape is a marvelous tool for the outside of the package. It doesn't tear. Lately, I have been getting a few books packed in some sort of plasticized grey or silver wrap. This stuff is fine. In fact, I have come to regard standard packaging (of the good kind) as a yellow manila envelope cut to fit, with a Wal-Mart bag around the book and a generous amount of clear plastic shipping tape reinforcing corners.

That said, the jaws of Memphis can and will destroy just about anything. I live in the Arkansas Ozarks and everything going out and about 2/3 of what comes in (media mail) goes through Memphis. I have received three well packaged books in packages that were completely torn open with the hardcover book, looking like it had been driven over by a truck several times, taped back in the package, obviously by USPS. My first experience was when I received in the mail a clear plastic bag containing remnants of my package. They looked like what was left after a fight between two very mean mechanical dogs. I don't know what the poor book looked like and I bet they didn't want me to either. There was an apology from USPS  and an official smart ass comment that some mail got damaged but 95% of that was due to poor packaging.

Date Posted: 1/4/2010 1:16 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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I sent out a book last week that was brand new, never been read.  I had an opportunity to get a large print copy of the book and I did so, even though I had ordered the book from the Book Depository.  So, I ended up with a brand new book to exchange.  Here's the e-mail I got from the recipient when the book was marked received:

The member to whom you shipped your book 'Cold River' has sent you this personal message.

Thanks so much for the book and thanks for wrapping it in plastic as the outside had some water damage on the back of the pkg. But the book is perfect.

So, for all those who think that books are rarely damaged by water, here's an example of where the book would have been if it had not been wrapped in plastic.  And that is only the 10th book I have sent out!

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 6:43 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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Well, I just had another batch of books saved by being wrapped in plastic.  I had 8 books coming from a PBS member.  They wrapped them snugly in a plastic bag and then in manilla paper.  The manilla wrapper had a huge rip in it all the way across the package.  If the books hadn't been wrapped in the plastic bag, they would have ended up separated from the wrapper in the PO bin.  This time it didn't look weather related, more like the paper got snagged on something and ripped.  Either this kind of thing happens more often than people think or I have been having a run of bad luck, or good luck if you look it from the perspective of the fact that I haven't lost a book or had one damaged due to the sender taking the time and effort to wrap the books in plastic.

Subject: More damage during Holiday rush
Date Posted: 1/5/2010 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,565
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Sounds like alot more damage occurring during the busy holiday package season--  more subs and temp hires working this time of year too!

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/28/2007
Posts: 192
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I'm a big fan of plastic wrapping. For any paperbacks I send out I use the fold top sandwich bags. If you slit the flap most books can fit in either one or two of these with a bit of tape to close you have a plastic mummy. Then it doesn't matter so much if the outer wrapping gets wet.. Of course I've never mailed a book with just the two pieces of paper either. Its either kraft paper, bubble envelopes or recycled wrapping from other PBSers.

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 8:14 PM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2008
Posts: 9,884
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I received a book today wrapped in press n seal.  It left sticky residue all over the cover of the book. 

FYI: plastic wrap is fine, press n seal is a no-go.

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,186
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Kate, you might want to have a talk with your local PO about the amount of damaged packages you are getting. Though it sounds like its often those blasted manilla envelopes, you seem to have a package muncher located at a PO near you. Talk to someone at your PO and mention it. I know a while back one of the sorting facilities was chewing up a lot of books and it turned out they had installed a new machine that was damaging a lot of mail goign through it.

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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Kate, you might want to have a talk with your local PO about the amount of damaged packages you are getting.

Actually I did talk to my carrier today about the damaged package I received.  She said it could have happened anywhere along the line.  The last one was damaged because of moisture/water.  Again, that could have happened anywhere along the line.  She did say that she would talk to her supervisor about the damaged packages I have been getting.  But, she pointed out something I hadn't thought about.  Both of the packages that were damaged were multiple books (one was 6 and the other was 8 that were not in boxes.  She said that when books are just wrapped and not secured in boxes, the flexing that happens because the books are not secured often is the cause of the damage that occurs.  If I send more than two books, I always put them in boxes.  I save all the boxes I get when I receive books. 

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 8:36 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,707
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I use the Tyvek polymailers available on Ebay and I have NEVER had a complaint from another member about my wrapping methods.

I will NOT use Saran Wrap or any type of cling wrap in the summer - I had a couple of books ruined 2 years ago when the heat fused the cling wrap to the covers.

Date Posted: 1/5/2010 9:16 PM ET
Member Since: 10/26/2008
Posts: 9,884
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I had a couple of books ruined 2 years ago when the heat fused the cling wrap to the covers.

Bren, where do you live?

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 2:24 AM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2009
Posts: 27
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i recieved today a book i had ordered in a poly envelope. the thing was a bear to open up, and the book seemed very well protected inside, i am now trying to find a local source for these envelopes, as they are MUCH easier to use than the standard packaging methods. in fact, i re-used it within hours..



Last Edited on: 1/6/10 2:27 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/6/2010 4:13 AM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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I recently stopped buying from a half.com seller who often has books on my wishlist for really cheap prices because they kept sending multiple book orders (usually trade paperbacks) in a bubble envelope. Every package I received from them was damaged in some way. I agree that boxes are much more appropriate for safely shipping a large number of books.

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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i recieved today a book i had ordered in a poly envelope. the thing was a bear to open up, and the book seemed very well protected inside, i am now trying to find a local source for these envelopes, as they are MUCH easier to use than the standard packaging methods. in fact, i re-used it within hours..

I just bought a supply of these on E-Bay.  Here's a link to the auction:

http://business.shop.ebay.com/Packing-Shipping-/19273/i.html?Type=Poly&_catref=1&_dmpt=BI_Mailers_Envelopes&_fln=1&_ipg=&_ssn=costxpress&_ssov=1&_trksid=p3286.c0.m282

I bought the 180 pack for $16.66, various sizes.

A word about using these poly wrappers.  It's best to wrap the book tight in the wrappers using packing tape.  If you just stick the book in the wrapper without wrapping it tight around the book, the book will flop around inside and could end up damaged.  The last books I got in a poly wrapper were cleverly wrapped.  It was an order for 4 books.  The sender tightly wrapped the four books 2 x 2 in the cardboard from a cereal box, placed them in the poly wrapper and then wrapped the poly wrapper tight.  The cardboard from the cereal box stabilized the books along with the tight wrapping.  The books were in perfect condition.

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 2:51 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2009
Posts: 611
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I always wrap the books I send in plastic wrap before enclosing in the outer wrapper. Many people have let me know this has saved the book from damage in rainy weather.  I just buy a large cheap roll of plastic wrap at WalMart for this purpose, and it works well.  When I need some heavy duty coverage for the outer layer, i've found paper grocery bags are good.  I think the critical thing is how well you tape it all up. I had a complaint from one person that I had "mummified" the book I sent her...better safe than sorry I say. If the book had been damaged, she would have complained worse about that.

Date Posted: 1/6/2010 3:22 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Kate - thanks for the link.

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