wooden bookshelf. Photo by Pickawood on Unsplash

How To Pack Books

Having a personal library is a wonderful thing. Whether it’s books that you hope to read, old favorites that you read again and again, or reference books that make finding the right word or definition easier than scrolling the internet, there’s just something comforting about having a collection of books.

However, books can be troublesome when it comes time to move if you don’t pack them correctly. Without proper care, your books can get bent, the spines can be broken, or they can suffer water damage. Fortunately, with a little careful preparation and knowledge of how to pack books for moving, you can ensure they arrive intact at your new home.



What You’ll Need 


Here’s what you need to get started packing up your books.


  • Boxes. Boxes are the go-to packing medium for books, and here’s how to pack books in boxes for moving. Medium-size boxes with cut-outs for carrying work best. Think beer boxes. Ideally, you want to size your boxes so you don’t have to make more trips than necessary, but you don’t want the boxes to be so heavy you end up with an achy back the next day.

  • Packing tape. Good, clear, heavy-duty packaging tape is necessary to make sure that the bottoms of your boxes are secure enough to handle the weight of the books. If you’re using recycled boxes (and you should), it’s a good idea to use three strips of tape on the bottoms of the boxes.

  • Bubble wrap or packing paper. Bubble wrap or packing paper is necessary to fill those gaps around books so they don’t shift around inside the box and become damaged.

  • Marker and labels. A good labeling system makes it easy to unpack your books and get them on the shelves quickly and in an organized manner. For example, you can label cookbooks that will go in the kitchen, reference books to be taken to your home office, and novels to go in your bedroom.



1. Sort Through Your Books


The first step when moving books is to sort through them and decide which books you’ll be taking with you, which ones you want to donate to a library, Goodwill, or other nonprofit organization, and which ones you want to sell. You certainly don’t want to spend the time and energy to move books only to donate or sell them when you get to your new home.

Starting early makes the book-moving process much less painful. It’s not absurd to begin 2 months in advance of your move.



2. Organize Books for Packing


After you’ve sorted out the books you want to donate and sell, it’s time to organize them. There’s no one right way to do this. However, having a cohesive plan will make it easier to handle your books when you unpack them. Below are a few organizing ideas.


Organize Books by Size and Weight


One good way to organize your books for packing is to sort them by size and weight. For example, put all of your paperback books in one pile and your larger coffee-table-style books in another.


Organize Books by Author and Genre


Sorting by author and genre makes it easy to shelve your books when you arrive at your new home.


Organize Books by Frequency of Use


Alternatively, you might organize your books by how often you use them. This means you’ll have a few boxes of frequently used books, such as favorite cookbooks and reference books, to be unpacked first.



3. How to Pack Up Books for Moving

It’s important to pack your books correctly to avoid any damage to your favorite tomes en route to your new home. Below are a few tips to help ensure they arrive safely.


Pack Books Tightly to Prevent Damage


Books should be packed in the boxes so that there’s no room for them to slide around in transit. However, you don’t want to pack them so tightly that they risk damage when they’re unboxed. If you have dead space inside a box, fill it with heavy paper or bubble wrap. If you don’t have enough packing paper or bubble wrap, you can use other dry, soft items, such as T-shirts, towels, or throw blankets.

You can pack books flat or standing up like they sit on a shelf. For older and more valuable books, consider placing cardboard between them to help them retain their space while packed. Never pack book spines at an angle. It can break or loosen the spine and may cause the pages to fall out.

When packing paperback books, avoid packing them with the pages down, as this tends to bend the pages.

Keep in mind that books take a long time to pack, so it makes sense to start early on this project. You’ll pack the books more carefully if you aren’t feeling rushed. Make sure to leave a couple of boxes out for reading during the time between packing your books and your move.


Pack Books According to Organization Method


Once you’ve organized your books, as we discussed above, it’s easy to pack them so that boxes are aligned with your organization method:


  • Size and weight
  • Author and genre
  • Frequency of use


Label Boxes With Contents


Labels are essential for making the process of unpacking your books easy. When boxes are labeled, you’ll know which room they belong in and which boxes to open first. It’s wise to label the sides of the boxes, not just the top, so you can see what’s in the boxes, even when they’re stacked.

For your fragile and valuable books, it’s a good idea to make the boxes “this end up” so they don’t get jostled around more than necessary.



4. Move and Unpack Your Books


Once your boxes are packed and ready to go, it’s time to take them to your new abode. 


Moving Boxes of Books Safely 


Books are heavy. Make sure you use smart lifting practices, such as bending with your knees, not your back, when you transport the boxes. Place the boxes on the bed of the truck or moving vehicle, as they are likely your heaviest boxes. Only stack them where they can be secured because, if the stack topples over, the books and possibly other items in the truck could be damaged.


Unpack and Organize Your Books in Your New Home 


The last and most exciting step is to unpack your books and put them away in your new home. While books are, arguably, less essential than other items, such as your coffee maker or frying pan, unpacking them will get rid of a lot of boxes quickly and help you make a dent in the mountain of boxes you have to deal with. Since you’ve labeled and sorted your book boxes well, unpacking them should be a breeze. Seeing those lines of nicely-front-faced books is very satisfying and may help you feel more at home in your new place.


Don’t Have Space for All Your Books? CEND Can Help Store Your Stuff!


If you don’t have enough room in your new home for all of your books, CEND can help. We offer short- and long-term storage options, and we make it easy. All you have to do is contact us to order your CEND containers (parcels) and let us know when to pick them up. We’ll even pack them for you if you prefer.



The Bottom Line


  • Get your materials ready before you start packing your books — boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and labels.
  • The first step is to sort your boxes and donate or sell those you don’t want to take with you.
  • Organizing your books — by size, genre, or frequency of use — makes it much easier to reshelve them at your new home.
  • Pack your books so they don’t slide around in the boxes to prevent damage.
  • Books are heavy. Make sure you practice smart moving techniques to avoid injury.
  • Unpacking your boxes will be a breeze since you’ve carefully sorted and labeled them.
  • Do you have more books than space? CEND’s short- and long-term storage options can help.


CEND can help you store your extra books so they’re in good shape when you have a place for them. Contact us today for a storage quote!