Packing Tips

How to Pack Books When Moving House

Eventually, there comes a time in your life when you have to move – either because you bought a new house, you changed jobs and you have to relocate, or you’re moving in with someone. But what if you’re an avid reader and moving books seems like an insurmountable task because you believe that one can never have too many of them?

There are certain rules one has to keep in mind when packing books for moving, especially if you have rare and valuable copies. Otherwise, your books might get damaged during transportation.

Table of Contents:

3 Things to Consider Before Packing

Let’s be honest here for a moment. As much as you love books, there is no doubt that there are some that you’ve picked up only once and probably won’t read ever again. This is a perfect opportunity to declutter your library and find a new home for any unwanted books. Not only will you save time by concentrating your efforts on your most valued copies, but you will also save money by not wasting packing materials on those you do not want anymore.

There are three ways you can declutter your belongings before moving home:

Return any books you have borrowed from the library

There is no need to move a book that you will eventually return to its rightful owner.

Organise a book giveaway

Hey, maybe you’ll find someone with a similar taste in literature or your new book club!

Donate to a charity shop or an institution

Making a big donation to a charity shop or a local library will not only make you feel good, but it will also reduce the number of books you have to relocate to your new home.

Required Materials for the Packing

This complete list of essential items will ensure your books are packed and stored safely:

  • Heavy duty box: it shouldn’t be more than 16” deep and weigh more than 25 kgs.
  • Packing paper, newspaper or tissues
  • Clothes or rags (optional)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Cling wrap
  • Packing tape: You can also use masking tape, especially if you think that the books might accidentally touch the adhesive on it.
  • Sheets of cardboard
  • Silica gel
  • Markers
  • Packing labels
The parcel boxes in which your books arrive when you order them or a suitcase (with wheels) are also viable options.

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General Packing Tips

  • Do not overfill the boxes. This goes without saying. Books are heavy and you don’t want to risk straining your back or breaking the box.
  • Leave some empty space for the packing paper. If you want your books to be insulated from all sides, do not fill the boxes to the top. Leave an inch or two, so you can fill it with packing paper, tissues or newspapers.
  • Load the heaviest books first. This will make it easier for you to load each subsequent box and not strain your back. Additionally, you will have a better idea of how to stack the boxes so that the heavier ones do not damage the lighter boxes.
  • Make sure you’ve used enough packing tape so you have a strong foundation. There’s nothing worse than all of your books suddenly spilling from the bottom of the box.
  • Fill all the gaps in the boxes with packing paper, tissues, rags or clothes. Even if you categorize your books by size, there are bound to be gaps between them. Your main goal is to make sure that nothing in the box moves around during the relocation.
  • Don’t forget to label the boxes. Spare yourself the additional stress of guessing where each book is located.
  • Line the boxes with tissues or packing paper before you start putting books inside. They will provide extra insulation and prevent the book edges from bending.

How to Pack Different Types of Books

There are three reliable methods you can use when packing books for moving:

  • Method 1: Loading the books with the spines down. This technique will prevent any loose pages from falling.
  • Method 2: Stacking the books flat. A very common approach indeed and very rewarding, if done correctly.
  • Method 3: Arranging the books with their spines against each other. If you don’t have cardboard sheets, you can use the books’ spines to preserve them.

Each of these methods has its pros and cons. Choosing which technique to use depends primarily on the type of books you’re packing:

How to Pack Hardcovers

  1. Before you start loading your hardcover books, line the bottom and the sides of the cardboard box with packing paper or bubble wrap.
  2. If the books have dust jackets you may want to consider packing each book individually with cling wrap, bubble wrap or packing paper beforehand, so that the slipcover and the edges do not get damaged.
  3. Start loading the books either with their spines down or with their spines against each other (methods 1 and 3).
  4. Fill any gaps with packing paper, clothes or scarves.
  5. Leave an inch of empty space before closing the box and fill it with packing paper, tissues or clothes.
  6. Seal the box with three strips of packing tape two along the opening of the box and one across.
  7. Label your box.
If you’re stacking the books with their spines facing each other and have a little extra space for more books, use cardboard sheet to separate the third row. The cardboard sheet will prevent the edges of the second row from clashing with the hardcover of the additional books.

How to Pack Paperbacks and Fragile Books

  1. Line the book box with packing paper. This rule applies to all types of books.
  2. Pack with packing paper or cling wrap books that are more fragile. You can do that by either wrapping each book separately or by making small bulks of two or three books at a time.
  3. Stack the books (bulks) flat in the box or face their spines against each other (methods 2 and 3).
  4. Use cardboard to divide the different layers and provide additional support. Since the covers of paperbacks are easily-bendable, as their name suggests, these books require the extra protection when moving, or else their spines may tear.
  5. Fill any gaps with tissues or clothes.
  6. Once your book box is almost full, fill the remaining space with packing paper and bubble wrap.
  7. Tape the box shut using the three-strips technique.
  8. Label your box.
If you want to make sure that you’ve covered all your bases, you can try making the so-called cardboard sandwich and make a cardboard dust jacket for each book.

How to Pack Old and Antique Books

These books require extra caution when packing because they are usually in a very fragile state.

  1. Make sure your hands are clean before you start packing your old and antique books. Having food grease or any unnecessary moisture will harm the pages and may even create perfect conditions for mould to grow, if the books are not carefully sealed.
  2. Line the cardboard box with packing paper.
  3. Use bubble wrap and packing paper (tissue) to seal each book individually. This will prevent pages from falling off and it will keep the edges intact. Do not bind the books too tightly, otherwise, you risk damaging them.
  4. Stack the books flat or arrange them with their spines facing each other (methods 1 and 2).
  5. Separate the book layers with a cardboard sheet and add silica gel.
  6. Don’t forget to fill all the gaps.
  7. Leave an inch of empty space before you close the box and fill it with packing paper.
  8. Seal the box using the three-strips method.
  9. Label your box.
Old and antique books are sensitive not only to humidity, but also to light. Try to limit the exposure to light while packing. In addition, mark the boxes as fragile to warn any individual handling your items.

We offer professional and insured packing help!


Moving books is time-consuming and there are but a few shortcuts one can take to guarantee their safety during the relocation process:

  • don’t forget to declutter before sealing everything in boxes
  • make sure that you have all of the necessary packing materials
  • check which packing method is the best for your book collection

If you feel that you don’t have the time or you might need professional help with packing your books, the Fantastic specialists are here to help you out! As an added bonus – all of the items packed by us are fully insured.

Image Source: depositphotos / GeorgeRudy

Do you have any personal experience? Any book packing tips you may have are most welcome in the comments below.

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