Tips for keeping expenses down – shipping materials

Here’s another installment from contributor William Smith of Hang Fire Books

(editor’s note: while I use a different method for shipping, William covers two very important concepts; a. the book must stay dry and b. the book should never move iside its package.)


Office supplies and packing materials amount to one of the largest non-book expenses faced by a dealer. Minimizing these costs means you can sink more of your funds into inventory and make more sales.

Here are a few money-saving ideas that won’t compromise your presentation or take up too much of your time.

1.) CONSERVE AND REFILL YOUR PRINTER INK – At $40 a pop, I like to stretch my ink cartridges as far as possible. To reduce ink usage, go into your printer preferences and select “Print Black Cartridge Only” and reduce the quality to “Fastdraft” (PCs). The printouts are still perfectly legible and the cartridge will last longer with these settings. When it’s finally empty, consider refilling it. I purchased a kit from Mr. InkJet ( Most printer models are available, complete with instructions. It took a little practice but I haven’t purchased a new cartridge since.

2.) USE RECYCLED PAPER – My friends with office jobs save paper for me and I print orders on the clean side. We feel virtuous and I save about $12 per ream of paper. NOTE: careful the used side doesn’t contain confidential information.

3.) COLLECT CLEAN, DRY BOXES – I always need boxes of varying size so every recycling day I collect all the good ones I can find. When you pack, turn them inside out. They PO often refuses boxes with advertising (and you don’t want your customers to think they’re receiving Pampers or Vodka). I wrote a post on my blog about how to cut boxes into mailers for oversize / table books.
4.) BE CREATIVE WITH BOX FILLER – Crumbled newspaper, shredded credit card bills, old catalogs, all make great box filler and will prevent your books from bumping around. NOTE: Wrap your books in plastic or put them in a poly bag so they don’t pick up any newsprint marks.

5.) BUY YOUR MATERIALS LOCALLY – For any supplies you can’t beg, borrow or steal, find a local source. I used Uline previously and while they were very dependable the postage was a killer. Now I get my items delivered for free overnight from a local supplier. If you can’t find one, try to group buy with another seller.

Anyone else have any cost cutting ideas?

William Smith

7 thoughts on “Tips for keeping expenses down – shipping materials”

  1. Hey William, nice post. I use b-flute myself but since reading more about your methods (on your blog) I see that our systems are not that different.

  2. Yeah I love b-flute. I only use extra cardboard around thin, oversize Pbs or magazines. The flute is usually sturdy enough on it’s own for regulation size Hcs and TPBs.

  3. Re re-filling your ink cartridges….I have moved one step beyond… sells ink by the pint, half-pint, along with syringes for filling your cartridge. You just tell them the printer manufacturer. I’ve been using them for quite some time now. Cuts the cost of ink for printers down to the bare bones. Ink refill kits can be expensive.

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