Moving and Packing Tips

How to Pack Different Types of 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 valuable books might get damaged during transportation.

Required packing materials and boxes

In order to ensure your books are packed and stored safely, here is a complete list of essential items:

  • Heavy duty box: it shouldn’t be more than 16” deep and its weight should not exceed 25 kilograms
  • 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
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How to properly pack different types of books

Different types of books require different packing approaches, so we are here to give you a few pointers. Overall, there are three reliable methods you can use when packing books for moving:

  • Method 1: Load the books with the spines down
    This technique will prevent any loose pages from falling.
  • Method 2: Stack the books flat
    A very common approach indeed and very rewarding, if done correctly.
  • Method 3: Arrange 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 hardcover books

  • Before you start loading your hardcover books, line the bottom and the sides of the cardboard box with packing paper or bubble wrap.
  • 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.
  • Start loading the books either with their spines down or with their spines against each other (methods 1 and 3).
  • Fill any gaps with packing paper, clothes or scarves.
  • Leave an inch of empty space before closing the box and fill it with packing paper, tissues or clothes.
  • Seal the box with three strips of packing tape – two along the opening of the box and one across.
  • 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.

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Packing paperbacks and fragile books

  • Line the boxes for moving books with packing paper. This rule applies to all types of books.
  • 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.
  • Stack the books (bulks) flat in the box or face their spines against each other (methods 2 and 3).
  • 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.
  • Fill any gaps with tissues or clothes.
  • Once your book box is almost full, fill the remaining space with packing paper and bubble wrap.
  • Tape the box shut using the three-strips technique.
  • 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.

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How to pack old and antique books

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

  • 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 mold to grow if the books are not carefully sealed.
  • Line the cardboard box with packing paper.
  • 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.
  • Stack the books flat or arrange them with their spines facing each other (methods 1 and 2).
  • Separate the book layers with a cardboard sheet and add silica gel.
  • Don’t forget to fill all the gaps.
  • Leave an inch of empty space before you close the box and fill it with packing paper.
  • Seal the box using the three-strips method.
  • 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.

Essential book packing tips to keep in mind

  1. 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.
  2. 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 balled-up packing paper, tissues or newspapers.
  3. 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.
  4. Before even starting, use packing tape to reinforce the boxes, especially the bottoms – There’s nothing worse than all of your books suddenly spilling from the bottom of the box.
  5. 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.
  6. Don’t forget to label the boxes – Spare yourself the additional stress of guessing where each book is located.
  7. 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.
  8. When packing antique and older more fragile books for storage you wish to rely on acid-free tissue paper and boxes. Unlike acid-based paper, acid-free paper doesn’t yellow with time. Make sure all books are clean from any dust before packing them. Dust contains acidic elements that can result in damaging paper and covers.
  9. Check the book for problems like mildew and if you notice any such issues address them immediately.
  10. Make sure the books are separated by type in separate boxes and labelled properly.

We at Fantastic Services can store books for you in storage warehouses that are clean, climate and humidity-controlled storage units. You can rest easy, your books will be in a safe and well-maintained place.

We offer professional and insured packing help, as well as reliable storage services. Find our more about our service and how they can ease your move.


Packing books correctly 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 quality packing materials
  • check which packing method is the best for your book collection

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

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

Image Source: depositphotos / GeorgeRudy

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