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Topic: What's the BEST way to wrap a book?

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Date Posted: 11/2/2010 3:30 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2010
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Last Edited on: 2/2/11 1:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/2/2010 3:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
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Martha - Welcome to PBS. :)

Here's what the Help Docs say about wrapping:

General Guidelines for Wrapping:

  • Your book(s) must be completely enclosed in the wrapping

  • Use plenty of tape (2" shipping tape, not Scotch)
    • especially at the corners and seams.
    • You can get shipping tape at any store that sells stationery or shipping supplies.
    • Do not apply tape directly to the book! This can damage the book when the package is opened.
      • If you apply tape directly to the book and it is then damaged when the package is opened, you will not receive a credit.
    • Do not tape over the postage (USPS does not accept this)
    • Do not apply postage to tape (it can fall off)
    • It is okay to apply clear tape over the DC barcode if you are sending a package with PBS-DC or Printable Postage
      • If you do this, avoid wrinkles in the tape that can interfere with barcode scanning
  • Make sure that all flaps and folds, on whatever type of wrapping you use, are secured tightly to your package.
    • It is easy for flaps or folds that are not secured to get snagged by sorting machines in the USPS system, and this can cause damage to (or loss of) your book.
  • Consider using an inner layer of plastic
    • You can use Saran Wrap, or clean plastic grocery bags, or any kind of clean plastic material
    • please do not use "Press and Seal". This product contains some type of glue that sticks to the books.
      • If you wrap your book in this and it is then damaged when the package is opened, you will not receive a credit.
      • If you get a book that was wrapped using Press-and-Seal, a little rubbing alcohol will remove the residue from the book cover.

I've received dozens of books wrapped in the PBS wrapper and they've gotten to me fine. Using plastic is not mandatory but it's good to use it to avoid the books getting wet in transit.

Last Edited on: 11/2/10 3:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/2/2010 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
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I am a fan of the PBS mailer as long as two sheets of paper are used and it is adequately taped. Padded envelopes work great for larger books, and after you have been a member for a while you will have a supply of recycled envelopes from books you've received. File folders are very sturdy (wrap like a gift). Some members use cereal boxes. Brown paper grocery bags. The list is endless. What ever you use, use plenty of shipping tape, not Scotch tape, to seal all the seams and perhaps go around the wrapped book once in each direction.

The one thing I recommend not doing, is just to stick a book in a manilla envelope and mail -- I have lost more books coming to me in manilla envelopes that have torn open. You can use them, but tape the edges down so that the envelope is snug to the book. The envelope is less likely to get caught in equipment and the book with not have additional wear and tear from sliding around in the envelope.

Last Edited on: 11/2/10 4:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/2/2010 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/20/2007
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Welcome, Martha!

For what it's worth, for small books I DO wrap in the 2 sheets of paper the label is printed on and have never had a complaint. Sometimes I toss them in plastic first (especially in the winter) and make sure to use enough packing tape.

For bigger books, I agree you'll find stuff. I've recycled bubble mailers, used file folders, and have a roll of brown craft paper as a last resort.

I think it's all fine as long as you keep in mind that the UPS machines are NOT nice.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 4:00 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2007
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If you're sending anything bigger than a mass market paperback (pocket or purse size paperback), it's good to have some kinds of padding.  The book corners on hard covers and trade size paperbacks (larger paperbacks) tend to get dinged up pretty bad in the postal system if you don't use a bubble mailer or other type of padding.  As mentioned in the help docs posted above, you should use plenty of shipping tape (I like the clear Duck brand tape) and tape down package corners to avoid them getting caught in any USPS machinery, sorters, etc. 

One type of wrapper that I haven't had good luck with is the white plastic envelopes.  These wrappers get torn very easily in shipping, and really need to be mummified with shipping tape if you want the book to arrive safely. 

With thick brown paper (similar to brown paper bags), you have to be sure that the tape is going to stay stuck so you may need to layer shipping tape vertically and horizontally because for some reason shipping tape doesn't always stay stuck to the brown wrappers.  Also, the brown paper rips easily in transit, so all sides & corners must be well taped with shipping tape. 

I mainly reuse bubble wrappers.  I also reuse manila envelopes, but you have to make sure that you tape those envelopes down to fit the size of the book, otherwise the books gets jostled around too much in transit.  The PBS wrappers work OK for paperback books as long as you use plenty of shipping tape, but I don't recommend them for hardcover books since the corners get banged up too easily.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2009
Posts: 1,652
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You'll get lots of differing opinions here on the best way.  Honestly, you have to find what works best for you, the supplies you have on hand, your budget, and your time constraints.  I almost always use sran-wrap (or a plastic bag) to protect from moisture and a manilla envelope and make sure that the envelope is taped to the size of the book (no loose ends anywhere).  If it's a large paperback I will frequently add a layer of cut-up cardboard outside the sran-wrap to make it a bit more sturdy.  Between my cousin and myself we have recieved books in just about every form of wrapping imaginable and most are effective (and that's what counts).  Personally I would avoid gift wrap (I've recieved several in recycled gift wrap that were almost completely shredded).  Just make sure that however you mail books that the wrapping is close to the book (like a brick) and you aren't skimping on the tape and you should be fine.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 4:13 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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I never thought of using folders to wrap a book! I use manila envelopes for MMPB - but I wrap the book in plastic, tape the edges and make sure they are just slightly bigger than the book so there's no much give. For larger books I use padded envelopes (a lot of them from recycled from packages I've received.)

Last Edited on: 11/2/10 4:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/2/2010 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
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From my personal experience, this is what I have found to be most effective:

- wrap in plastic first

- use scotch tape for your inner packaging but NOT for your outer packaging!  Use packing tape for the outside of your package.  Scotch tape does not hold up through the postal machines.

- for paper wrapping: use at least two layers.  Make sure it is snugly wrapped and taped well.  Use a paper that can hold up through the postal system.  Thin papers, such as wrapping paper or brown paper towels are NOT sufficient.  (Yes, I said paper towels.  Happened to me, and wasn't pretty.)

- for other types of wrapping, such as envelopes, tyvek or bubble mailers: Fold any excess packaging and tape snugly.  Do not let the book rattle around loose in the envelope- this can result in broken spines and rips in the packaging.

- for hardback books: tape the corners and all edges with packing tape to ensure that the book will not tear through the packaging in transit

- it is advisable to tape over the address and return address on the  package for waterproofing, especially in winter.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 4:22 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2009
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I agree with using real packing tape and I buy them 4 at a time. I prefer to wrap in plastic (usually saved from that new blender or whatever was bought recently) I have saved "right sized boxes and turned them inside out to use for mailing as well. I love to find new things to wrap books in. Keep it tight and it will be alright.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 6:26 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 625
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Welcome Martha!  Boy, you're liable to get a lot of different preferences and ideas with your question.  I don't know that there's any best way to wrap a book, but you'll get some great ideas that you can adopt into your own style. 

I accidentally came across a great wrapping while I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinets -- Freezer Paper!  The wide size of the roll makes it great for various sized books, it's sturdy and it's plastic lined.  Brilliant!

I learned that many people here recycle sturdy envelopes  -- also brilliant and green!  Works especially well with the bubble wrap envelopes.

Someone else here also noted that they wrap their books in bread bags turned inside out.  Another ingenious idea that I immediately swiped!  I don't use them if I'm mailing in freezer wrap, but do if I stick a book in an envelope.  Effective and it's recycling!

IMHO, all terrific ideas from seasoned PBSers.  We newbies have benefited from their sage wrapping wisdom.  wink

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 6:39 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,484
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I use old maps.  Very pretty and more sturdy than brown paper bags.  I have an ink jet printer.  So I always tape over the address.  The slightest moisture removes the address. 

If you use printable postage from PBS, you can reprint the label without paying again.  Great if you make tape wrinkles over the bar codes.

My one gripe is books loose in an envelope.  The media mail machines always seem to rip open envelopes.  Tuck the envelope tight around the book and tape down the extra.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
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Just be aware that however you package it SOMEONE is going to whine about it.

If you use plastic - you aren't protecting the earth

If you don't use plastic - you aren't protectng the book

If you use bubble envelopes - you are wasting money

If you use just the mailer as recommended - a few think that isn't enough

You can please most of the people some of the time but there are some people you'll NEVER please.

I've wrapped in gift wrap, plastic bags, printer paper, poly bags, calenders, just about anything you can think of.  I've never had a problem.  It is probably because I make sure the wrapping (whatever it is) is tight around the book in both directions and use plenty of tape.

Oh yeah - don't use tOOOO much tape cause someone will complain about that too!

I'm not being negative.  What I'm trying to say is there is NO best way.  Find a way that works for you and 99% of the people will be ok with that.  You are always going to find a few who don't agree.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
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You'll get lots of differing opinions here on the best way.  Honestly, you have to find what works best for you, the supplies you have on hand, your budget, and your time constraints.

This was great advice!

If I'm pressed for time I use a recycled or new bubble envelope.  A box for larger orders.  If I have the time, I like using a layer of plastic and wallpaper.  It's pretty, LOL.

Welcome to PBS, Martha... I hope you find lots of great books!

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2010
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I usually put the book in a zip lock bag, then wrap like a present in brown paper bags that I get for free at the grocery store, and mummify with packing tape.

Date Posted: 11/2/2010 11:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2006
Posts: 4,984
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Welcome, welcome, welcome to PBS! 

Everyone has their own different style.  As has been said before in this thread, as long as you use plenty of tape to make sure whatever it is is wrapped securly around the book (bubble envelopes not inluded) you should be fine.  Experiment a little bit until you find a style that works for you, and then proudly go with it! 

As Cozi said, there will always be someone who will complain no matter what you do, so you just have to shrug your shoulders and let it roll off your back.  And sometimes no matter what you do, the evil USPS machines will bite you in the end.  It's luck of the draw, and you just have to do as much as possible to avoid getting bit by fate. 

But no need to focus on the negative.  99% of all the transactions I've done here have been problem-free.  Happy swapping!

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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If you want to be sure that your book(s) get to the recipient in good condition, I suggest you wrap it in plastic first.  The plastic not only protects the book from moisture, it will also keep the books together if the wrapper is torn.  I once got a shipment of six books in a horribly mangled wrapper.  All six books were there because the sender had wrapped them in a plastic bag.  The plastic bag kept them all together whereas without it, some (or all) of the books may have become lost.

I also use poly mailers I buy on E-bay from CostExpress.  They are really cheap and convenient.  I still tape the corners down because they could get caught in a sorting machine.

Whatever you do, don't wrap the book in brown paper with no plastic protection.  Brown paper is very absorbent and will absorb moisture very quickly.

Last Edited on: 11/3/10 12:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/3/2010 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
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Oh yeah - don't use tOOOO much tape cause someone will complain about that too!

This can be a legitimate complaint.  I have minor arthritis in my hands and often find getting into books mummified with tape to be a Herculean task (kind of like getting into the clamshell packing).  I use a paper cutter, but I need to get a starter hole going before I can use it.  And that frequently results in a gouged cover on the book. 

So, if you tend to mummify books in tape, make sure to leave some place on the package free of tape so the recipient can get make starter hole to be able to open the package.

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
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I use a seam ripper, used normally for sewing. It's the perfect tool to open letters and especially books with lots of tape. The end is tiny and sharp so it makes a perfect starter hole and then the blade cuts right through the tape all without harming the book cover. I keep one in my desk just to open packages with.

File:Seam ripper.jpg

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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I've tried using my seam ripper on a mummified book and couldn't get it to go through all the tape.  Plus I was worried that I would end up in gouging the cover of the book if I finally got it to go through all the tape. 

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2006
Posts: 15,930
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I use:

2 sheets of printer paper with the address printed on it for MMPB (the smaller paperbacks).

brown kraft paper (I buy rolls of it at Dollar Tree) for larger, trade-sized paperbacks. 

File Folders for hardbacks.

I always put the book in plastic - whatever I can find around the house (even plastic grocery sacks can be cut up and wrapped around a book).

I always tape the corners of the package.

Use packing tape, not scotch tape.

If I have padded envelopes, i try to use those first so I can clear the space out of my mailing drawer!

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
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There is always a seam in a mummified book, even a taped one.  I've never had any problem scoring along that seam with my scissors and then opening up the seam.  Sure, it takes some care and time but no more time than wrapping in plastic, going out and buying envelopes or any of the other suggestions you see here.

I forgot to say - welcome Martha.  Remember your best friend is the Help Center located at the top of every page!  It will even tell you how the site recommends wrapping a book!  : )

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 8:20 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2007
Posts: 2,549
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I buy the gallon size zip bags from the dollar store and wrap it in that with lots of tape. I put half of the mailing lable inside covering 1 side of the book and tape the mailer on the front covering the other side. I don't use any other paper or covering that way it is visible that the contents are a book and ok for media mail.

Last Edited on: 11/3/10 8:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/3/2010 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
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I second the seam ripper. Never had a problem once I got one.

Date Posted: 11/3/2010 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2010
Posts: 1,207
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The Help documents say  "Consider using an inner layer of plastic", I wish they would require it.

Last Edited on: 11/3/10 8:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/3/2010 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 526
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Last Edited on: 4/28/11 8:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 1