My experience with packaging books

When we first entered the book selling business we were complete beginners as far as shipping books was concerned. We had a lot of knowledge of shipping other materials bot not books.
Luckily we had some of the correct aids and took advatage of those and merely use bubble wrap and large commercial envelopes as our methods. Luckily for us, they all arrived at their destinations safely but externally looked awful, big and bulgy.
It reflected badly on us, though we never received a complaint, but we wasted a ton of money on postage. If we had a large volume to ship we used a cardboard container designed for a different material and, although strong, was effective although heavy.
Finally we broke down and went to an Office Supply shop and purchased some bubble wrap lined envelopes – one sixe to fit Paperbacks and another larger to fit about 70% of our Hardbounds and Trade Bound books. That worked well but we again were spending far to much on them.
In our old business, glass etching, everything was packed in archive boxes and peanuts and we purchased all this via a compny called Uline, who have branches all over the country and sell everything in the packaging line.
Idly looking through one of their catalogues one day and looking at envelopes I realized we were paying an arm and a leg for out shipping supplies. By buying in bulk through Uline we could save a ton of money. The drawback was that most of their items cam in 50 or 100 lot’s so we couldn’t buy the variety of envelopes we needed, to fit every size of book, but we made do, mainly by folding too large envlopes to fit.
I would recommend every one to use our method, not necessarily with Uline, but by looking up Packaging in your area.
There is a drawback to this in that you may not have this luxury in smaller towns, but all of them ship so you can take advantage of thus. But don’t forhet to check on their shipping rates.
Today, of course, we are more efficient. We still use the standard size bubblewrap lined small envelopes for Paperbacks, but changed over to corrugated cardboard for all else. We find this is much safer, since it offers greater protection for the corners and spines of Harbacks. If you use wider packing tape than normal you find you can avoid using staples to seal your packages.
We also wrap all of our Books in a waterproof plastic bag, since cardboard is very porous and will let water through and get to the contents. I know that 99% of the time the USPS will keepo you stuff dry, but better safe than sorry. The bags are cheap so why take the chance?
I also read that a lot of dealers have problems with shipping very expensive books and don’t trust the corrugated paper system. There are foam plastic envelopes which are soft and and waterproof and make a perfect liner for the corrugated idea. I use that for any book I sell over $25.00.

We also use Stamps unlimited, which saves a lot of money if you use tracking for your mail. Their fee is a tiny percentage of the USPS cost. They also save a lot of money on postage since their Computers show you the cheapest way to go and give you options before you make a decision. On top of this they also save time since their addressed packages are allowed to be picked up at your premises instead of you taking it and standing it line at the Post Office. There are other stamp printing outfits so I would research all before I decided on which one to use. I find Stamps unlimited’s Addressing system a little unwieldy.

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  • I have yet to ‘splurge’ and buy the b-flute pictured and I’m certain that Uline is the place to go for it. It might be found cheaper elsewhere but with Uline one knows the quality will be high. This is one area that “You get what you pay for.” kicks in. The same goes for 2″ plastic tape. I can get the rolls of plastic tape real cheap at the corner store. I found I have to wrestle with the cheap roll trying to get the end free from it because they have a tendency to tear off or split at an angle and flop back onto the roll.

    I find my shipping still takes much longer than it should although as a result I too have never had a complaint about packaging except once a customer said she did not know how to open it…

    Thanks Brian for reminding me of this method. The time I save will really pay for the money spent on materials.

    • As an FYI:
      Another great packaging company is Associated Bag. I found them to be less expensive than Uline for the products I use in my shop and they offer some excellent environmentally friendly options at a good price. They are on the web, have wonderful customer service, catalogs and an 800#. Company HQ is in Milwaukee, WI.

      Carol Goldstein
      Mackerel Sky Books & More
      Honeoye, NY

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  • I love corrugated cardboard! I used to spend a lot of time breaking down and cutting up boxes to use as protection, but now just buy a roll of corrugated cardboard, keep the boxes whole and offer them as ‘moving/packing boxes’ on our local Yahoo Freecycle group.

    2 layers of corrugated cardboard (at right angles to each other) stops a softcover book from being bent or folded, protects all the important bits of a book and most can still fit into a 3kg Prepaid satchel, which is how most of my orders are sent within Australia.

    I’m not sure if the 2 layers are enough to protect against a forklift running over a book (yes, it’s actually happened), but I’m sure I’ll find out one of these days.

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  • I haven’t “extravagant”, bought b – flute idols, and I’m sure Uline to pursue it. It may be cheaper to find the place, but Uline people know the quality will be high.

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