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Topic: Why not pack book in a box?

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Subject: Why not pack book in a box?
Date Posted: 1/24/2015 1:34 PM ET
Member Since: 1/18/2015
Posts: 2
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Newbie to book swapping.  I have never shipped via media mail but I do a fair amount of shipping in general.  I was wondering why people wrap books in paper for shipment?  It is not about being lazy but it seems like a lot of effort wrapping and taping, yet the method remains so risky regarding book corners getting damaged due to rough handling.  Why not just wrap the book in bubble wrap, pack it in a box slightly larger than the book, and stuff it with enough padding to keep the book from shifting around?  I could do that in minutes and it would be the safest method for shipping the book.  Perhaps this is not allowed using the media mail classification?  Perhaps my method adds significantly to the shipping cost?  Some other obvious thing I am missing? 

Thanks in advance for any assistance, I appreciate it.



Date Posted: 1/24/2015 2:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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1. I can wrap a book in paper quicker than you can pack it in a box

2. most people don't have the storage space to keep small boxes that are book sized, plus the bubble wrap and other padding, but just about everyone with a computer has a ream of paper. 

3. wrapping a book tight in paper and shipping will do less damage to the book than shipping in a box if the book can move even a little bit. 


I've been a member since 2007 and haven't gotten or sent a damaged book yet. I use whatever I have that will work. I've used the paper method, reused bubble mailers, boxes and I've even wrapped a book up in toilet paper and shipped it (that was to prove a point to someone that adequate tape is what's most important.)

Date Posted: 1/24/2015 4:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2005
Posts: 1,228
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I've been a member here for almost 10 years and just received my first book shipped in a box.   To me, it just seems so wasteful.   I use recycled Thomas Guide maps/scrapbook paper to wrap any books I send.

Last Edited on: 1/24/15 4:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/24/2015 7:50 PM ET
Member Since: 11/9/2008
Posts: 41
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I don't really see much damage from books shipped in the plastic wrap + paper + tape all around method. The weight is usually significantly lower so that I can purchase first class tracked shipping online over media mail.

Date Posted: 1/24/2015 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,543
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I only use boxes when I have several books, either of oddly different sizes or a large quantity, going out together. I do use the plain paper when I have a single regular size paperback book to send. For trade size and hardcovers I use/reuse the yellow mailers by cutting them open and wrapping them like nice thick gift wrap. I wrap HC in plastic, a layer of bubble wrap if I have any, or recycled packing tissue to protect the corners and then the opened mailer. I save all the mailers I get and by opening them up and trimming off the glued ends and seams and removing the flap, some those that are too beat up to reuse as an envelope are perfectly fine when I turn them inside out.

Date Posted: 1/25/2015 12:34 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2008
Posts: 7,759
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I'm OK with people using paper for paperbacks, especially the mass market sized ones.  However, I have received damaged hardcovers that were only wrapped in paper.  I think paper is inadequate for a hardcover if you want it to arrive in good condition, and appreciate those who take the time to cushion corners in some way or wrap hardcovers in boxes.

My rule of thumb is that I try to mail so that the book arrives exactly as it left me--that's the goal, anyway.  If you are more comfortable mailing in boxes, that's fine and perfectly acceptable.  In many cases, it's not needed, but great for multiple books or hardcovers!

Date Posted: 1/25/2015 11:26 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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Welcome to PBS, Tom. 


If you have the supplies to put books in boxes, that's great. 

Others have covered some of the reasons. 

I tend to make custom "boxes" for single paperbacks and hardcovers. I have a bunch of used manila file folders and I fold it into the shape of the book. For hardcovers, I cut out little strips of cardboard that are the thickness of the book to protect the two corners. I think this sufficiently protects the book and minimizes packing materials used. I can also re-purpose materials I have on hand. I have seen damage from books (mostly snubbed corners on hardcovers) from shifting during transit. 


Hope this is helpful. 








Date Posted: 1/26/2015 11:53 AM ET
Member Since: 1/18/2015
Posts: 2
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Thanks for the help everyone.  Sounds like several issues against using box method but recommended for hardcovers, which is pretty much what I figured.  I think I will wrap paperbacks and box hardcovers.  I just want books to get to their new homes as safely as possible.


Date Posted: 1/26/2015 4:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 558
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Boxes add a fair bit of weight, and when sending media mail that can really add up. And I reuse most of the boxes and envelopes I receive, but I don't get many boxes sized for books. I buy most of my print books in person, and the odd book I order online usually comes in one of those "boxes" which is really one piece of cardboard bent around the book, and those are not easily reusable since they will only work for a book precisely that size.

I try to send hardbacks in bubble envelopes whenever possible, but agree they aren't really necessary for paperbacks. Of course, if someone wants to send me a book in a box, as long as it's secured/wrapped within the box, that's fine. A hardback sent in a box too big for it and not secured with packing material will probably get more damaged in transit than a hardback sent in the PBS paper wrapper!

Date Posted: 1/29/2015 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,458
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You can mail hardcovers in reused bubble envelopes with no problems. Just make sure you fold over any excess envelope and tape it so that the hardback doesn't have room to move around inside the envelope.

Date Posted: 2/4/2015 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 460
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I use boxes for hardcovers and audio-cds.


Date Posted: 2/15/2015 10:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/8/2005
Posts: 1,000
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I reuse almost every thing that is sent to me.  I have quite the stash of bubble mailers I use for most books.  If I am mailing a small book, I will normally use the front or back cover of a magazine to wrap it in.  It's a little heavier duty than normal paper usually...and sometimes pretty! :)

If I am mailing multiple books to the same member I often use boxes.  I have SO many boxes stashed away that I get from online shopping that I figure I might as well use them for books.  I don't know what else I'm going to use them for!  I have even used old (obviously clean) food boxes, like from granola bars, crackers, cereal, etc.  I just make sure to either put the book in a plastic baggy or wrapped in some kind of waterproof material before it goes in the box to keep them more protected.  I either stuff the excess room in the box with bubble wrap or scrunched up packing paper or something like that, or cut down the box so it fits the book perfectly. 

I'm sure I'm not the norm when I say this, but I love packaging up my books I mail...it's one of my favorite parts of PBS.  I think it's fun to find just the right size of box or mailer, and get it to fit perfectly.  Or see if I can use a material or item to mail books in that most people wouldn't normally think of.  I'm a dork, I know  :)