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Topic: Why so much tape on the envelope? Why plastic wrap on books?

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Subject: Why so much tape on the envelope? Why plastic wrap on books?
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 9
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This has just started within the last few months.  I have been receiving books with so much tape on the envelope that I have to cut the evelope hoping not to cut the book. I mean the whole envelope is wrapped in tape.  After struggle with the envelope, I then have a book covered in plastic wrap that I have to contend with. The one type of plastic stuck to the cover and I almost rip the cover trying to get it off.  Why do I have to perform surgery just to get to the book?  Has anyone else notice this problem? 

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 6:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,232
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Most people who wrap in plastic wrap do so to protect the book in case of water damage during mailing (from rain and so forth). Based on the books I receive, I would say that about 1/3 to 1/2 of members wrap in some kind of plastic before they wrap the book in paper.

The tape .... that is a frequent point of discussion in the forums, as well. Members do "mummify" books with tape for the same reason, to protect them from damage by the Post Office, and you will probably find that this discussion topic fills up with people who always mummify their books, and people who dislike receiving them because it does make them hard to open. Opinions are split as to whether or not it is necessary.

I find that keeping a large pair of scissors handy helps me with those .. I can usually snip off a tiny bit in the corner, and once I have that bit open, I can slide the scissor blade inside the package and cut it open.

Lori - ,
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 6:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2009
Posts: 79
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It's mainly in response to two things:

1) The Post Office seems to be getting harder on packages.  More packages are arriving ripped, scuffed, torn or shredded.  Edges and sides of wrapped books are especially vulnerable to getting caught in sorting machinery.  So swappers (myself included) are wrapping our books more tightly and securely, in an attempt to protect them.  For me, personally, this is the reason I "mummify" my books.   I've received about a dozen packages in the last year which were munched on my the P.O. machinery and damaged the books inside.  All of them were wrapped loosely or in plain printer paper.

2) The RWAP problem.  I've seen a lot of people complaining about pristine books being sent out and then being RWAP'd by recipients, claiming that they books weren't packaged well enough.  Claiming "water damage" during shipping, etc.  If a sender "mummifies" the book in packing tape, plastic bags and no loose corners, there's a smaller chance of getting an RWAP.  I've never had this problem myself, but I see it discussed here in the forums all the time.

Last Edited on: 8/18/11 6:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 6:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2008
Posts: 2,207
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I never use plastic wrap to protect the book(s) from water - I've struggled so much trying to unwrap plastic wrap that I refuse to use it myself. I recycle whatever 'real' plastic I can find, wrap the book like a package, turning the ends in like we'd do with wrapping paper and seal w/scotch tape.

I'm a mummifier mainly because I've received so many badly wrapped books that it was only pure luck that allowed the books to arrive safely. I leave the corner edges untape so scissors can be used to open the ends easily. If the book is larger I'll anchor the corners with scotch tape or a narrow strip of shipping tape. I always try to leave a wiggle area where scissors can be used easily and safely.

For me, the little struggle to open a tightly wrapped book is not a problem; getting a badly-, sloppily-wrapped book that arrives damaged is a problem.


Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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 I never wrap in plastic and I don't mummify my books either.  I have never had anyone mark a book I sent as damaged by me or the post office. 

But I have damaged more than one trying to cut a mummified package open and ended up tearing or cutting  the book cover.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:05 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2009
Posts: 1,938
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From the help docs:

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.

Tx M: If the book you received with the sticky plastic wrap had been damaged when you were opening it you could have RWAP'ed it and gotten your credit back. If I had received a book wrapped with press and seal I would have sent a nice comment to the sender letting them know that per the help docs they should not use it.

Remember that some areas of the country get lots of rain and the plastic can help keep the book dry.  I myself am a plastic wrapper smiley

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 10,289
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yeah, I just don't get the plastic wrap users. why use something you have to pay for when free plastic bags are everywhere? I tightly wrap books in normal plastic shopping bags or use the plastic bag my papr comes in daily if it's clean and dry!

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2009
Posts: 1,938
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The mummification issue is a recurring topic on PBS. One which will never be resolved.  Alas, there are mummifiers and mummifier haters. These are just a few threads mentioning the issue.  When I searched mummified I got 6 pages of results.






Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:19 PM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2007
Posts: 1,011
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Well, I just received an order where one book was there, but the second was missing from the package. A little more tape would have plainly kept the package intact so that I would have received the other book also. The book I received was wrapped in plastic and it would have been great if the second book was placed on top of the first and then wrapped in plastic. Again, that way I would now have both books.

I not only wrap in plastic (recycled), I have now started taping the address to the plastic wrap, wrapping in sturdy paper and putting PBS label on outer wrapping with a covering of packing tape to protect the address.

P.S.  A $1 seam ripper (such as used by people who sew) will open package and plastic easily and without damaging the book. HTH! I use this method all the time and haven't damaged a book yet by doing so. The seam rippers can be found at the Dollar Tree.  

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 9
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Thanks for the replies.  I thought PBS came up with some new rules and I had miss them.  Hopefully, PBS will monitor those who continually mark books as being water damaged.  I have never received a book or any type of mail for that fact that was water damaged. 

This is my first time using the board. I did not know the termology for overwrapping and some of the other things that were stated in the replies.  I have not had any problems with PBS. I just couldn't figure out why all of a sudden I started receiving books this way.  Also, what does RWAP mean?

Last Edited on: 8/18/11 7:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: plastic/mummifing
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,448
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I use plastic-usually the bag the new pape comes in and I am a "middle of the road taper". I use enough, but short of mummifing

Subject: it's a puzzle
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 8:05 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,630
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Instead of using big scissors as one member stated above, I use a pair of very small sharp scissors when getting into a book completely wrapped in tape. Often, I can then use the point of the scissors to easily slice the tape open along its seal.  And where did I get this pair of scissors?  From one of my insect dissecting kits!

When I was a kid my folks always gave me thread or yarn that was jumbled into "a million knots" or the Christmas lights to unwind. That was because I treated it as a puzzle to solve. I would never cut the thread or yarn.  So I also approach books that are wrapped in envelopes (usually padded) that I want to reuse. I like to see how I can get the tape off without tearing the envelope.  I find this relaxes me.  Beats getting drunk.

Last Edited on: 8/18/11 10:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 8:06 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,926
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We had 4" of rain one day last week, and 3" the following day. I appreciate the plastic, because our PO sort bins are longer than the roof overhang they are under. :-( My carrier walks as well. Luckily, I often get so many books he drives to my house first, but when they lug them in rain like that - the plastic helps! Mummifying...I no longer order books sent directly to my mom - she's elderly and would throw them in the trash before subjecting herself to that aggravation. I find it frustrating, and have ended up with unpostables trying to open them...especially where the wrappers are also taped to the plastic around the book (or the book itself).  Most of my postal damage on books sent to me seems to come from those who use scotch tape...or shipping tape that's sort of stuck any old way - gobs at the corners or big loose flaps that seem to get stuck in the machinery.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 8:08 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 626
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I'm with you, Tx.  I hate mummifying.  I do usually wrap books in plastic (used bread bags, for example) because I appreciate the logic of it, but a mummified book seems totally unnecessary.  The one time I slashed a book trying to unmummify it, my choice of expressive vocabulary turned the air in the room blue.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,714
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I wrap in plastic cling wrap because I've had quite a few books I've received saved due to it.  Envelope torn open and the plastic wrap is all that kept the book inside and safe.  I buy a roll at the dollar store and it lasts me at least 6 months so the expense is minimal.  It doesn't even cling all that well, I usually end up using scotch tape to make sure it clings to itself.

I tape the package, especially the corners, every which way.  I recently got a shipment of books back that I'd sent.  The package had torn over the corners in the ways I hadn't taped them.  Now I tape them in each direction.  I'd rather have a package that takes me a while to get into rather than one where the book's hanging out of it.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2008
Posts: 1,869
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RWAP means received with a problem.  I am a mummifier, too.  I have received books loose in manila envelopes that moved around so much that they were damaged on the ends so I reinforce the edges a lot.  I was also told by the post office to tape over the metal tab on the manila envelopes or they will have to hand cancel and charge me more postage because they can't let them go through the machines.  I have not heard that before, but I go ahead andI tape the whole end to be sure.  I have more trouble with receiving books wrapped in paper...those without tape are sometimes ripped apart and those with lots of tape are hard to get into.  So, I use manila envelopes and lots of tape.  I imagine they are a little hard to get into, but easier than paper so close to the book.  I would rather get a mummified book rather than a loose one.  I guess we all have our preferences and will end up driving someone crazy either way we wrap!

Not to mention the package that I got that was run over several times.  Tread marks all over the place.  But, the books were okay because of the wrapping!

Last Edited on: 8/18/11 8:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/18/2011 9:03 PM ET
Member Since: 11/9/2009
Posts: 196
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RWAP means recieved with a problem.

I have received books ruined from the rain because they were not wrapped in plastic.  I have also received wet packages with the book nice and dry because it was wrapped in plastic.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I have a huge roll of plastic wrap that I bought to package meat, later learning that it's no longer considered safe for food. So PBS is helping me use it up.

I use a lot of tape, but try not to mummify. I reinforce the seams but figure it's not necessary to do the entire line, just the middle. No problems so far.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 10:17 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2008
Posts: 1,869
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I reuse plastic bags to protect the books before wrapping.  I get my books and most mail at a PO Box, but I've had occasional regular mail that came to the house so soaked that the return envelopes inside the mail were sealed shut from being wet and the whole letter/bill limp and soggy. I have had to dry out my mail from time to time.  Our wet mail comes from our monsoons that the poor mail guy has to walk through. My mailbox is actually on the wall under the porch out of the wet.  Even with his poncho and his hat and all, he gets so soaked and so does his bag.  I think about that when I mail because there are other places where rain is a big issue. If I got books at the house, I'd have to specify plastic because putting a box on my little porch floor is a recipe for disaster.  Rain here doesn't come down slowly nor straight down.  Sideways and flooding are often the norm! 

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2010
Posts: 4,337
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I don't normally put a lot of tape around the packaging (I usually use those padded envelopes which really don't necessarily need to be "mummified"), but when I do use a lot of tape, it's usually because I am reusing a package that was sent to me & it's already covered in too much tape.

As for why it's done, well I think others have already answered that.  Sometimes I get books that the packaging has been pretty banged up from the postal service so the ones that are wrapped in tape don't bother me too much.  Yes, it is a hassle to try opening them at times.  I just try to do the best I can.  I'd rather do that than end up with a book that got torn up in shipping.

Date Posted: 8/18/2011 11:24 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2008
Posts: 9
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While I don't agree with the excessive taping and stuff, at least my eyes have been opened to what other people have been through.  We all get centered around our own world and think that everyone's else world is the same.  Not True!! So I will keep that in mind when I mail my books.

@Jeanetta H (or anyone else who lives in wet areas) -- I was wondering if you add a comment or request that additional wrapping is required during your rainy season?  That way a person like me would know to wrap your book "mummified" . 

Date Posted: 8/19/2011 12:23 AM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2005
Posts: 7,719
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We interupt this thread to bring you this bulletin:

Please dont wrap any books you are sending my way in a ex-food wrapper.


Thank you.....now back to your regularly scheduled discussion

Date Posted: 8/19/2011 12:33 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yes Tx, some members have season specific RC's asking for plastic underwrap.   I live in a rainy climate but was entirely clueless until I received a nicely worded RC asking for plastic underwrap b/c it was the rainy season in the other members area.  The light bulb went on  enlightened  like, duh of course!  Now I always use plastic (recycle & reuse), unless a member requests otherwise...it's saved a couple of my incoming books that arrived with soaking wet packaging and pristine books inside. 

In addition, I place the PBS insert portion of the mailer inside the plastic wrap...emergency address JIC USPS has a problem.

Not a fan of the mummy wrap.  I don't believe members should need special tools and complex strategy to free books from the wrapper.

Last Edited on: 8/19/11 12:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/19/2011 1:45 AM ET
Member Since: 12/4/2005
Posts: 2,320
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I usually wrap in a new 1 gal. food storage bag, not any sort of cling wrap.  I have my tape useage down to 3 pieces of good shipping tape, one down the center seam and 2 pieces for the ends.  Haven't had any complaints.

I have received all things in between.  Mummified--I have an exacto knife on my desk and use the tip to go shallow and parallel to the edges of the seals/book, wrapped secure in PBS printable wrapper both with or without plastic and some barely wrapped at all.  The one I recieved today was in a white paper shipping envelope, no plastic and only 1 piece of tape, plus they didn't even secure the glue flap on the envelope or the metal brad thing.   I prefer plastic in the spring and early fall due to the placement of my mailbox (no option to move it--apt renting) and it does tend to catch rainfall and have had soaked books.

Date Posted: 8/19/2011 4:41 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2011
Posts: 64
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on a an RWAP thread that I started as the sender of a rain soaked book, someone suggested the plastic bags that curtains panels come in. I live at an APO (overseas Military Base) and have seen how my mail arrives to me! It didn't occur to me until the RWAP that books could be arriving in the same condition on the other end. FYI- If you order a larger paperback or children's book it will be in one of plastic panel bags, I have tons from all our different moves/houses....