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Topic: What type of package do you use to mail your books?

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Subject: What type of package do you use to mail your books?
Date Posted: 9/30/2010 3:20 PM ET
Member Since: 9/28/2010
Posts: 3
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I am new here and was wondering how to mail out my books.  

What kind of packages do you use?  Which ones have you found best for mailing books?  I don't want to have to buy any from the post office unless I have too, they are too expensive.  

I have also read a few things about media mail...Not really sure what that is.  Can I use that to mail out my books and is is significantly cheaper?  I looked on USPS website but I can't seem to find the answers to my questions.

Sorry for all the questions, I just want to make sure that the people I have to send my books to get them and they are unharmed in shipping.




Date Posted: 9/30/2010 3:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,210
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Welcome Bridgett!

There is no need to buy packaging from your post office. Many of us never buy anything, we just recycle what we have around the house. The Help Center topics on wrapping books with have some suggestions too.

I always start with some kind of plastic to protect the book from the elements and abuse by the USPS.  I always recycle plastic, usually cutting open one of those air pacs you get in boxes of stuff through the mail and tucking the book in there. Any type of plastic that comes into your home will work. Lots of people use saran wrap or zip loc bags; the plastic sleeve their mail comes in; breadbags cleaned and turned inside out; the outer plastic on things like toilet paper and shower curtains, pretty much any plastic that is clean, dry, and hasn't come into contact with anything nasty or dangerous.

I use the PBS 2 page wrapper on all of my single mass market (smaller) paperbacks. I wrap tightly and make sure to put packing tape on all corners and edges.

For trade sized or the bigger paperbacks and hardcovers I will wrap in a couple layers of brown postal paper or usually recycle a bubble mailer that I've gotten other books in. There are many members who find good deals on bubble envelopes or tyvek and do all their mailing in that. I prefer to not buy supplies, but I always have something I've recycled from home or work.

If I am sending more than one book, especially larger ones, I use a box. I always have regular boxes around that I've gotten stuff in the mail in, but again many members are quite resourceful and will use things like cereal or frozen meal boxes. Again as long as hasn't gotten food or anything on it, any box will help protect the book.

Taping and fit are often the key to a package enduring USPS handling. Whatever packaging you use, make sure to wrap it tightly to the book, taping down any excess so it cannot get caught on machines. Use packing tape, not plain desk/present wrapping tape and make sure all corners and edges are covered so that the book can't wear through. If you use an envelope of some kind make sure to fold down excess and tape all flaps down, don't rely on those little metal clasps to hold.

Media Mail is often the cheapest for a book to go. If First Class is cheaper (under 7 oz) that is what PBS will put on the wrapper. Books can go Media Mail as long as there is nothing included like notes or advertising so just be sure that you don't include anything other than the PBS packing slip/invoice and you shouldn't have any problems.

Again, welcome to PBS and Happy Swapping! 

Date Posted: 9/30/2010 4:17 PM ET
Member Since: 9/28/2010
Posts: 3
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Melanie that was super helpful!!!  Thank you so much for your advice, I really do appreciate it.  I can't wait to start getting some new books in. 


Bridgett :)

mistie -
Date Posted: 9/30/2010 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2007
Posts: 2,024
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Bridgett,  I just want to second Melanie's suggestion to reuse/recycle for packaging materials.  Once you start to kee your eye out, you will be surprised what you can think of. So far I have sent out over 50 books, and have yet to buy any packaging except rolls of packing tape.  I have a drawer that I keep used bubble wrap envelopes, tyvek envelopes (heavy plastic that maynyonline medicines come in) - anything that comes in that can be used for sending out books.

Also, definitely use Media Mail (unless you have a small paperback). if you take the book to the PO counter yourself, may sure you tell the clerk it is to go Media Mail - if you don't, it is not an option they will offer, and your shipping costs will be much more than necessary. The PBS label that prints does have Media Mail marked on it (unless the PBS system shows first class is cheaper) - but, rarely will the postal clerk notice that.

Media mail for books up to one pound is $2.38, between one & two pounds it is $2.77

Welcome!, and repost with any further queries - people here are friendly and helpful.

Date Posted: 10/1/2010 10:46 AM ET
Member Since: 9/28/2010
Posts: 3
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Thanks Mistie.  I will make sure to tell the clerk about sending media mail.  That is much cheaper...I was kind of nervous about starting this swap thing because I did not want to have to pay a lot to ship out books.


Thanks again and have a great weekend!!!

Bridgett smiley

Date Posted: 10/1/2010 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2008
Posts: 1,362
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When I first started out on here, I packedged in mostly recycled materiels, I wrapped smaller paperbacks in plastic and then wrapped them in the two sheet mailers.  For larger paperbacks, I used bubble mailers, either ones I found on sale at Walgreens (the sell for 39 cents when they're on sale), or recycled ones.  Now that I've been here for two years and send out significantly more books, I buy my mailers in bulk on e-bay.  In the two years I've been on here, I've sent out around 300 books, and I buy plastic mailers as cheaply as possible, the store I buy them from has them for about 10 cents each when you buy in a package of 200.  Inside of the mailer, I pad my book in either used bubble wrap or a couple of plastic shopping bags and I tape the single page address slip to the outside.  It is much faster, and that means a lot to me right now. 

Absolutely send your books out Media Mail, if they are heavy enough.  It is much cheaper.  Another thing I do to save money is offer deals in the Book Bazaar.  I often get books quite cheaply and by offering three books for two credits, I save on shipping and get two credits  Welcome to PBS, I'm sure you will enjoy it here.


Subject: New Mem
Date Posted: 10/1/2010 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,441
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I also recycle packing materials. I got a huge box of  bubble envelopes about 4 years ago and am just using the last of them up. I reuse bubble envelopes from books sent to me.  I bought a box of 100 manilla envelopes-about a 5x7, which is perfect for a bigger then normal paperback. I wrap in plastic first. I use the wrapper from the morning paper. Also have brought the plastic sacks from a stack of paper plates from work. I buy packing tape in bulk

Date Posted: 10/1/2010 9:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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just remember: tape is your friend. use 2" packing tape. You can wrap a book in anything and if you tape it good enough it will get there perfectly. To prove a point to someone once, I mailed a book wrapped in toilet paper, well taped and it got there just fine. No, it wasn't a PBS swap.

for a regular paperback, I just use the 2 pieces of printer paper and run one piece of tape all the way around the long sides of the book, covering the seam where the paper meets and I run a piece of tape all the way around the short sides. so if you are looking at the "cover" of the book there is a big X of tape and another X on the back. If the corners are sticking up, I will use a little more tape to stick those down.

Date Posted: 10/1/2010 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
Posts: 916
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Recycled is great.  I'm a postal employee and just took my local PBS group on a tour of a processing facility.  My preference is bubble mailers and LOTS of packing tape as I know the stresses packages incur in processing.  Other methods do work quite well.  But books shifting within a loose package are subject to breakage, tearing, damage.  Secure so books are not slidding around whatever packaging you decide upon.

Date Posted: 10/2/2010 12:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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"I'm a postal employee and just took my local PBS group on a tour of a processing facility."


That is so cool! 

Date Posted: 11/23/2010 7:40 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
Posts: 1,996
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When I first started swapping books, I used only the two printed sheets that PBS requires.  Thankfully, no one received damaged books from me!  About a month into my swaps, I received a book that had been wrapped in plastic then wrapped in a stiff brown paper.  It dawned on me then to use plastic from then on when i sent out books. 

Now, I wrap my book in a plastic grocery bag, then wrap in packing paper and packing tape.  My husband and I had a BUNCH left over from our move last year and still haven't used all of it.  It makes a surprisingly sturdy package when everything gets taped up.

I've recently discovered recycled boxes.  I turn snack cake boxes inside out and tape them back up. And I stuff enough plastic grocery bags around the book so it doesn't move.

Last Edited on: 11/26/10 4:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/24/2010 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2009
Posts: 621
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I also use mostly recycled materials - envelopes and plastic from books sent to me, paper that the copier paper at work comes in, plastic shopping bags (cut open, then cut off the handles), and whatever else I can find.  Friends and I eat a lot of Subway, and the long plastic bags Subway uses are perfect for protecting books.  Just make sure you wait a day or two after buying your subs before using the bag - toasted subs cause humidity to build up in the bags and you need time for it to disperse so you don't ruin books.

Date Posted: 12/14/2010 2:59 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2010
Posts: 33
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After my first month of swapping books I discovered that bubble mailers are not very good protection for hardcover books going thru the mail so I found an easy alternative, and I think it goes without saying that wrapping a book in sheets of paper is definately not recommended.   For paperbacks most anything will suffice, but hardbacks in excellent? No.

Date Posted: 12/14/2010 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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I think bubble mailers work great for hardbacks, as long as you use a lot of packing tape to make it tight around the book. If the books are loose in any package there is a good chance of problems.

Date Posted: 12/15/2010 9:40 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2010
Posts: 33
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They're better than plain paper wrapping, but they're far from great.   Stiff envelopes are the best and they should be used by everyone. 

Date Posted: 1/5/2011 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 55
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I've always had good success using just the PBS 2 page wrapper and either saran wrap or a left over grocery bag for single books.  For some of my larger orders I had to send out when I was running a special, I found cereal boxes wrapped with brown packing paper with extra plastic bags stuffed in them to prevent the books from shifting worked well.  Welcome to PBS and happy swapping!

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 11/8/2009
Posts: 300
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I use a bit of scrap cardboard and bend it around the book to reinforce it from being bent and to give it a bit of a buffer zone from punctures.  I then seal it in plastic or clear packing tape leaving a gap at the top and bottom that i fill with tissue paper.  I then use 2 pieces of white paper taped on to make it look nice and easy to write/stamp on. 

Date Posted: 1/13/2011 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2011
Posts: 61
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Thanks to all for the suggestions! I am new and just sent out a few books just wrapped in paper and a lot of packing tape! I hope they get there okay! I never thought to get a little more creative with things, but will do that from now on!

Date Posted: 1/13/2011 2:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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Hi Heidi, paper mailers can work great if you use them properly. Here is a post I made with tips on using paper mailers: http://www.paperbackswap.com/forum/topic.php?t=224782

Date Posted: 1/19/2011 10:46 PM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2007
Posts: 76
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Also, if your grocery store has those brown paper sacks in the frozen food section that are supposed to keep your frozen food frozen from the store to your freezer....  they make REALLY great wrapping paper and they're free! :)  I can usually cut one up and wrap two or three single books.  It's thicker than regular brown paper sacks, so I think provides good protection through the mailing process...  Plus tape.  Man I love packing tape! :)

I actually learned a lot and I've been here for three years! :)  Thanks for asking the question and thanks for all the great answers!  I do believe my plastic Walmart sacks will be recycled as well (although I usually take those back to the store and recycle them that way.)  Subway bags?  Whodathunkit??

Date Posted: 1/20/2011 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 112
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I buy plastic poly mailers in bulk on ebay. I sell a lot of things on ebay so I originally bought the mailers just for that, but they work great for PBS books as well and they are very durable and water resistant. And of course buying them in bulk makes them inexpensive, and I love that I just have to put the book in and seal it. So easy! :)

James B. (jbow) - ,
Date Posted: 1/23/2011 4:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2010
Posts: 14
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I bought this from U-line. You get 3 rolls at 15.70 each. Each roll is 250ft long. I keep the spare rolls in the attic until I need one. I double wrap a book (2ft worth/12cents), crimp the ends and then staple them. The book is essentially in a box inside of a box. The main point to this is, it is cheap, and virtually indestructable. It does take about 7-8 min to do one book. 




Last Edited on: 1/23/11 4:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/27/2011 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2010
Posts: 3,024
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I recently bought  ledger sized paper from an office supply store and it works great!  It has 500 sheets and will last me a very very long time. It's better than brown grocery bags (which I've received falling apart) and it's big enough for multiple books. I usually use 2 sheets and my packages always look very neat.

Subject: Packing Materials
Date Posted: 2/27/2011 1:18 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2006
Posts: 92
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If you have a community radio station (this is a different one than our local public radio NPS station) in your area, check with them to see if they have bubble mailers to give away.  My local one gets lots of CDs mailed to them daily and they offer the used bubble mailers free to anyone who wants them. They have multiple sizes that will fit mass market or trade paperbacks.  I'll usually cut one or two up to pad hardbacks and mail them in a recycled tyvek envelope. 

It's a great way to get involved in your local non-commericial radio station, maybe even find some other way to volunteer or work with them, recycle materials, and get free mailing supplies.  I also recycle all of the large envelopes that I get at work.  I try to recycle plastic for waterproofing, but find it best to keep a roll of generic plastic wrap around just in case.  I'd rather have that around, than have to delay mailing a book or sending it out without water proofing it. 

Subject: Wrapping books
Date Posted: 3/4/2011 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,441
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I have sent a few books wrapped in old wall paper. It works if it isn't really thick wall paper. If you still have acess to paper grocery sacks, they work well. I got a stack of news print sheets at a rummage sale/. I will use a whole sheet for hard bound books...plus a ton of tape