How to Pack Books for Moving

By Alex Hawkins | July 24, 2023

Woman packing a moving box full of books at home

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For book lovers relocating to a new home, protecting their book collections is a top priority. From classic tales to modern literary hits, every book deserves special care during a move. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about packing books for a move, from gathering supplies and preparing each book to smart packing techniques for paperbacks, hardcovers, and more.

 


 

Gathering Packing Supplies

To ensure your books arrive at your new home in pristine condition, gather the right packing supplies, including the following:

How to Get Moving Boxes for Books

Visit local bookstores or libraries to see if they have spare boxes they no longer need. You can also purchase specialized book boxes, but they will come at an added cost. Many long-distance movers offer a variety of packing materials with their services, including smaller boxes perfect for books.

Avoid using packing boxes not designed for books. Book boxes are crafted with reinforced corners and adjustable inserts to keep your books secure and prevent shifting. Prioritize obtaining the right boxes to ensure your books are well-protected throughout the journey to your new home.

 


 

Sorting and Organizing Books

When moving a book collection, taking time to declutter and sort can streamline the process.

Before calling the packers, declutter your books by assessing the relevance of each title, keeping those that resonate with your current interests and letting go of those that no longer hold significance. Consider donating formerly loved books to libraries or selling them to fellow book enthusiasts.

Next, organize your collection. You can sort your books by size to optimize packing space or categorize books by genre, making it easier to find your favorite titles to display in your new home.

Finally, take a moment to prioritize and set aside books of particular importance or sentimental value, ensuring they receive the special care and attention they deserve during the move.

 


 

Preparing Books for Packing

Ensure that each book looks its best on moving day by giving each one a thorough cleaning. By getting your books clean and ready now, they’ll be presentable and ready to enjoy in your new home. Here are a few tips to help your collection shine:

 


 

Packing Techniques

When you’re ready to start packing, follow techniques that prioritize safety and maximize space utilization, especially if you’re working with an interstate moving company.

Begin by wrapping each book individually using either acid-free paper or bubble wrap to provide a protective layer that safeguards against scratches and impact during the move.

When placing the books inside a moving box, alternate between laying them flat and standing them upright to optimize space and ensure efficient weight distribution.

Finally, add a layer of tape along the seams, edges, and sides of the box to help keep books in place and prevent shifting during transit with a moving company or in a rented moving truck.

 


 

Packing Different Types of Books

When packing a diverse collection of books, different types require specific considerations. Here are some guidelines for packing paperbacks, hardcovers, oversized books, and fragile or antique books.

Here’s how to pack your paperback books effectively:

For the safe packing of hardcover books, follow these steps:

When dealing with oversized books, follow these guidelines:

To safeguard fragile or antique books during a move, start by individually wrapping each one with acid-free tissue paper. Then, add a layer of packing paper or bubble wrap. Utilize custom-sized book boxes or padded envelopes designed to accommodate their unique dimensions. Label the boxes as “fragile” to ensure delicate handling, especially if working with movers.

 


 

Labeling and Inventory

Labeling boxes and creating an inventory will organize your moving process. Label each box with a clear description, such as “Fiction: Classic Novels” or “Nonfiction: Art History.” Include the destination room of a box for reference coming off the moving truck, such as “Office” or “Family Room.”

Creating an inventory or catalog of your packed books can also be helpful. Consider noting the title, author, and category of each book in a digital or physical format. This inventory will help you keep track of your collection and serve as a reference while unpacking and arranging your books in the new space.

 


 

Optimizing Box Placement

Key box placement strategies will maximize space utilization and protect your books during transportation.

Placing boxes of books on the bottom of a stack is beneficial for several reasons. The additional weight provides stability and prevents shifting during transit. It also helps distribute heavy items evenly across the vehicle, ensuring a safer ride.

As you load the boxes, place the heaviest boxes first, stack small boxes on top, and remember to secure everything in place using straps or ropes to minimize movement, especially for a long-distance move.

 


 

Unpacking and Setting Up the Book Collection

Once it’s time to unpack and set up your book collection at your new home, follow these guidelines to create an organized and visually pleasing display.

Begin unpacking the book boxes labeled for each room. Remove books from their protective wrapping, inspecting them for damage. Consider arranging books based on genre, author, or color. Take your time and enjoy the process of placing each book in its new home, considering the aesthetic flow and creating an inviting atmosphere.

Here are some hacks for organizing books on a bookshelf or in a bookcase:

 


 

Our Recommendation

As you pack your book collection for the move, prioritize protecting and preserving your cherished literary treasures.

Wrap each book carefully with packing paper or bubble wrap, using acid-free materials whenever possible. Maximize space and weight distribution in the boxes and label each box with its contents and destination room.

Finally, create an inventory of your packed books to facilitate organization as you unpack. Following these guidelines will help keep your move stress-free and ensure your books remain safe so you can enjoy them in your new home.

 

 


 

How to Pack Books for Moving FAQ

Should I use book boxes or regular moving boxes?

For optimal protection, pro movers recommend using boxes specifically designed to accommodate books. Compared to regular cardboard boxes, book boxes are sturdier and better suited to support the weight of books. However, if book boxes are unavailable, you can use standard moving boxes or even rolling suitcases as long as they are strong and adequately reinforced.

How can I prevent damage to books during transit?

To prevent damage to books during transit, wrap each one with packing paper or bubble wrap. Place them snugly in a box to prevent shifting, and fill any empty spaces with balled-up packing paper (avoid overpacking, though). Handle boxes carefully and mark them as “fragile” to ensure gentle handling during transit.

Can I pack books with other items in the same box?

Packing books separately from other items is generally best to prevent damage. Heavy books may crush more delicate belongings. If you must pack books with other items, place them at the bottom of the box and surround them with soft, lightweight materials to provide cushioning and prevent shifting.

Is bubble wrap necessary for packing books?

While not always necessary, bubble wrap provides extra protection against impacts. It’s particularly useful for fragile, valuable, or old books. If desired, wrap individual books with bubble wrap or use it to line the box to create a cushioning effect.

How should I handle valuable or rare books during a move?

Valuable or rare books require special attention. Wrap them individually with acid-free tissue paper, then with packing paper or bubble wrap. Consider using smaller boxes or padded envelopes for added protection. Clearly label the side and top of each box as “fragile” and handle them with extra care. If in doubt, consult with professional movers or experts in book preservation to ensure the best handling practices.