I ran a bookstore for four years and received hundreds of books in the mail. The majority of them arrived in bubble mailers, this seems to be the preferred method of packaging for online book dealers. I’ll tell you right now that I’m not a big fan of bubble mailers. I’ve written about book mailers on this site in the past, expounding the virtues of making corrugated mailing boxes out of rolls of b-flute cardboard. I have tested and compared quite a bit and it all comes down to one fact.
From time to time books inside bubble mailers wil get justled around during delivery and end up with banged corners. My experience is that this happens at least 10% of the time, way too high in my view. B-flute keeps the book secure inside the package, there is no movement. I’ve had zero returns and no complaints after sending out thousands of books.
Now to be fair I’ll mention a few things I have heard about bubble mailers. I just looked up the price of bubble mailers and if you buy in bulk there are some sites that sell bundles of 100 for abour fourty dollars. I had figured the price to use the b-flute system to be a bout thirty cents a package. So we can give the nod to bubble mailers when it comes to price. Speed will also go to the bubble mailers as it’s pretty tough to go any faster then stuffing something in an enveloppe and sealing it. The b-flute packages take under a minute to make, closer to thirty seconds once you get good at it.
One other positive I’ve heard mentioned about bubble mailers is that you can now by an environmentally friendly bubble mailer. These mailers may be made from recycled materials but it’s pretty tough to beat plain cardboard when it comes to being biodegradable. The edge definetely goes to b-flute when it comes down to being environmentally focused.
To wrap up, it comes down to a simple decision. Do you want to save money or do you want to make sure your books arrive bump free. I’ll tell you from a buyer’s perspective that if a book shows up in a bubble mailer and has a bumped corner or worse (I once received a book that had no additional plastic wrap covering the book – the mailer was not properly sealed and water got in!) I will forever note the name of the seller at not only not buy from them again but recommend to others not to buy from them. I chose to skip the bubble mailers, protect my outbound books as well as I can and go with the b-flute packaging sustem. If you run an online or a B & M bookshop then consider the b-flute system as well.
Comparison of JiffyLite and E-Lite bubble mailers