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Topic: Why is brown paper so popular?

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Subject: Why is brown paper so popular?
Date Posted: 9/28/2007 7:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2006
Posts: 22
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I've received several boxer packages (and individual books) wrapped in brown paper.  Some have plastic underneath, some don't.  Why is this rough brown paper so popular?  It is so easily abraded, the package always arrives with holes, usually several holes.  Sometimes I've had so many ripped places there is damage to the books.  Luckily it's been dry this summer, or there would have been some real water damage.   Sometimes the brown paper looks like a grocery store bag, but usually I can't see any creases from a former life as a grocery bag.  Occasionally the paper is very thick, but still brown "kraft-type" paper.  Even this thick paper is very weak when tossed about and of course it would practically disintigrate when wet, like a paper towel.  I looked over all the discussion topics and couldn't find anything about this, so I don't know why so many members are choosing this packaging.   A box is best, of course, for more than 3 books.  I have a source of boxes from relatives who are on medications.  They get medicine once a month and it comes in a perfect box for 4 to 7 books!  If you know anyone who receives meds through the mail (very common now), ask if you can have their boxes.

Diane K

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2007
Posts: 102
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For one or two books I often use a grocery bag, after wrapping the books in plastic first of course. I also put plenty of tape on too. Haven't had a compaint yet.

I don't have easy access to boxes (no one on any medication here) but any more than 2 books will get a box. cereal box, waffle box, whatever I can get.


Date Posted: 9/28/2007 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,590
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I use the brown kraft paper because it's inexpensive and far sturdier than the two sheets of typing paper suggested for mailing.  I've yet to have a complaint about any book I've sent being received with holes or rips, but I also make sure to use plenty of packing tape so that the edges are covered and secure. 

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2006
Posts: 387
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I often use brown paper (with plastic underneath), but I tape the hell out of it and have never gotten any complaints or had any reported as ruined in the mail. I haven't noticed an unusual number of problems with brown-papered packages I've received either.

The main wrappings I've noticed problems with are the printed-out PBS wrappers (particularly when someone tries to use them on anything larger than a medium-thick mass market paperback), which some people don't tape nearly well enough, and, worst of all, manila envelopes (which only work when folded tightly around the book and well-taped, so the book can't slide around and tear through the paper).

Last Edited on: 9/28/07 8:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/28/2007 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2007
Posts: 1,051
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If I send you a package in brown paper, it's because I cut apart a grocery store bag or other type of shopping bag. I try to recycle what I have on hand. The only things I go out to buy for PBS is cling wrap and packing tape. So far, so good. No complaints of soggy packages from water/rain damage, or bumped corners.

Diane, you're very lucky to have a box source. I wish I did!

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 3/1/2007
Posts: 1,883
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I use brown paper when I mail my books and have never had a problem with them getting damaged. I always wrap the book in plastic and then in the brown paper but I tape ALL ends and corners and sides with multiple layers of packing tape to reinforce it. I've recieved quite a few in brown paper as well and never had any problems.

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 9:07 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 12,167
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I use brown kraft paper quite a lot, mostly because it's something I have around the house for other projects.  To date, I've mailed almost 400 books through routine swaps, and probably another 100 or more for games.  

I've had ONE book arrived damaged out of those 500 or so and it had apparently been dropped in a puddle and left there for some time.  :)   I've since added a layer of plastic, though apparently that book was so soaked, it may not have helped. 

I've also never received a complaint about packaging and have actually had quite a few people comment on how well wrapped my books are when they arrive. 

ETA:  Like Tammy, I've also received books wrapped in brown paper and have never had a problem. 

Last Edited on: 9/28/07 9:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/28/2007 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,234
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I wrap in brown paper. I have never had a complaint of a damaged or wet book. I  think it is so popular because it is called Postal Wrapping Paper. Grocery bags are stong enough to hold groceries so I think they would be sturdy enough to ship a book in too.  I find boxes a hassle because they don't come fitting the book(s) tightly like the wrapping does. Wrapped books are also obvious to the postal employees so it is less likely to get ripped open for inspection too.

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/27/2005
Posts: 503
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I'm a brown wrapper wrapper too! So far no one's ever complained and all the one's I've received wrapped that way have never been damaged.

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 9:26 PM ET
Member Since: 5/11/2006
Posts: 100
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I occasionally use brown paper and agree with CoCo ~ it's a good way to recycle and it's durable.

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 9:31 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,817
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IF the packaged is taped all over it doesn't matter much what your paper is made of!!  I used brown paper bags,  wrapping paper,  computer paper and even once JUST a plastic bag.  They ALL worked because they were all encased in tape.  Of course some complain about too much tape, or even about using plastic.  NO way are you going to please everyone who orders from you on here.    

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 9/28/2007 10:14 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I used brown paper grocery bags for at least 400 books and never got a complaint.  I always taped the edges and corners, though.


Date Posted: 9/28/2007 10:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/26/2005
Posts: 12,167
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L, someone once asked me if I had taken wrapping lessons from you!   Seriously!

Date Posted: 9/28/2007 10:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,234
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It is the first thing listed in help for alternative wrapping:

Alternate Packaging:

  • Suggestions for alternate packaging materials:
    • Heavy brown paper (from a cut-down grocery sack)
    • Manila envelope
      • tape it down tightly around the book(s) to prevent "flaps" that can get caught in postal machinery
    • Bubble or padded mailer
    • Tyvek or similar large envelope
      • tape it down tightly around the book(s) to prevent "flaps" that can get caught in postal machinery
    • Box
      • prevent your books from sliding around inside with crumpled paper (NOT newspaper--the ink can mark the books!) or (clean) plastic shopping bags, balled up.

Last Edited on: 9/28/07 10:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/28/2007 11:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,501
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I have wrapped in brown paper and have receive books wrapped in bown paper w/o any problems that i am aware of.  I also wrap in plastic as well.  I can get boxes at work, or i can resort to padded envelopes or white shelf paper....depending on what my mood is.

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2007
Posts: 10,401
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I've never had a problem sending or receiving brown paper. Mine has a waxy undercoating, too.

Also...No matter what wrapping method someone chooses, there seems to always be someone to complain about it. Plastic wrap, don't plastic wrap, bubble mailer, box....Sheesh!

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 1:30 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I have an enormous stack of paper grocery bags because our local recycling center won't take them, so I'm pretty thrilled to be able to use them up on mailing books! I wrap in cling wrap first, and then wrap well with brown paper. I try to get the corners and seams well covered with tape.

I've only had one brown paper-wrapped book that was sent to me come in torn and it happened just the other day. Oddly, it looked like the package snagged and ripped in the center, by the address, not near any of the corners or seams. It was barely hanging on and the book was exposed, but at least it made it here okay.

Brown paper bags are just way more cost effective for me, so I use them whenever feasible.

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 8:18 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,136
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I like to use brown paper too but the grocery stores around here ONLY have plastic bags available (if you request a paper bag they're annoyed because they have to search around all the registers or the service counter to find them!)  So rather than buy rolls of brown paper I have been using up the heavy stock paper from old calendars that I've saved.  Many of them are oversize pages, they are pretty, and I am recycling something that I would be throwing away otherwise.  And I'm de-cluttering my house at the same time...


Date Posted: 9/29/2007 11:18 AM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2005
Posts: 4,469
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Brown paper is popular because it's cheap--and with enough tape it usually holds up well.  Personally I re-use all those amazon boxes, for multiple books, if I have them, otherwise brown paper and about half a roll of packaging tape usually works.

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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I use grocery bags,  I like to recycle what I have.  Never had a complaint, never been told they've arrived holey.  I make sure to tape it well, too.

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2007
Posts: 652
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I use brown postal paper and never had any complaints (knock on wood) so far.  The one time I didn't use brown paper (white paper instead) I DID get a PM saying the book arrived with torn packaging.  So I like brown paper for its sturdiness.  Of course, it's very important to take the time to tape securely all corners and ends well.  And I make sure there are no loose tape flaps hanging in the breeze - they can also get caught in the postal machinery.

I don't know how the others feel, but I kind of enjoy wrapping and taping up my books to send out.  It's like sending a gift of some sort to someone, even though it's to a total stranger!  Do I need to get a life or what? 

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2006
Posts: 4,110
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I haven't used brown paper (either postal or bags) yet, not to say I wouldn't if I absolutely had no other choices.  Mostly I use PBS wrappers, bubble wrap envelopes or heavy duty manila envelopes.  I ALWAYS wrap in saran.



Date Posted: 9/29/2007 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2005
Posts: 3,449
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Sometimes, I use brown paper to wrap my books in too. I've never had a complaint, and I always use plastic too.

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 1:24 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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I think they key is, no matter what you use, to use a lot of tape.  I know there are threads about too much tape useage, but it get's the book there dry and in good shape.  I know a few people have a hard time with tape, and if that's in their conditions, I will wrap accordingly, but otherwise, brown paper, white paper, envelopes, whatever, follow with tape!  That's just the way I do it, my two pennies. 

Date Posted: 9/29/2007 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 7/9/2007
Posts: 142
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If you're wrapping in paper grocery bags, please wrap in plastic first.  I've had three books now (and I've only been a member since July) arrive covered in ink smudges  because of the printing on the bags (printed side wrapped so that it touched the book).  They all appeared to be Trader Joe's bags, so maybe it is something specific to those bags, but it's a bummer to open a book and find the outside with ink all over it.