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Knowing how to pack books for moving will make moving day itself a much easier process

Packing can be such a complicated process. It’s filled with so many questions: “How did I acquire so many things?” “Why didn’t I clean out my fridge after I spilled those meatloaf leftovers eight months ago?” “What is the best way to pack books for moving?”

Good news: As your Portland mover — and your long-distance mover, as well! — we’re here with some advice and tricks on how to pack books for moving.

Tips for Packing Books

You’d think packing books would be fairly straightforward. How hard can it be to stick a bunch of rectangular objects in a box, right?

However, if you start your book-packing process willy-nilly, you’ll end up with ripped dust jackets and damaged corners. While that might add character to your books, it makes for terrible resale value if you were planning to get those to Powell’s later.

If you are a seasoned Portlander or are just moving here from out of state and you want to get a head start on blending in with the locals, you most likely have a fair amount of books. Keep in mind that when all stacked together, boxes of books tend to get very heavy, very quickly.

A good rule of thumb is no more than 30 books in a box. Books are heavy. Smaller, sturdier boxes with fewer books will help ensure the bottom of your box doesn’t suddenly fall out, while also making it easier for your movers to load and unload the stuff into the moving truck.

If you are super attached to your books (and who isn’t?), an extra step you can take before starting to pack them up is to line your boxes with plastic. Butcher paper and, of course, packing paper can work well for this step, but it’s best to avoid newspapers. (The newsprint can rub off on your books.)

Packing Hardbacks

You might lay your books down horizontally in your box to pack them snuggly. But with hardbacks, you can put them side by side as you would on a bookshelf with the spines down and the pages facing up.

Make sure to pack them tightly so they’re protected, but not so tightly that they’re impossible to get out of the box once you’ve arrived at your new place.

If you have some valuable hardcover books that you want to take special care of, feel free to wrap the books individually with packing paper before putting them in the box.

Packing Paperbacks

Paperbacks can be packed similarly to hardcovers following the same rules, but since paperbacks are softer, their pages are more prone to bending or tearing.

Paperbacks can be stacked in your box horizontally, too. This option works best when your books fill the width of the box completely as well as all the way to the top. This prevents the books from sliding around in transit.

If you need to fill a gap in your box, feel free to put some books in vertically, just remember the spines-down/pages-up tip. If there’s space left over at the top, wadded-up paper works well, too.

Smooth Move People’s Five-Step Approach

When thinking about the best way to pack books for moving, it’s good to get your tips and guidance from experienced, professional movers.

Moving can be one of the most stressful experiences of life. Packing up your beloved books can make it even more daunting.

Are you an avid reader with a vast collection filled with your favorite reading material?

A casual read-a-paperback-while-on-vacation type of person?

A student with multiple textbooks

In any case, packing books safely and securely is essential. Hiring a mover can help reduce your stress levels.

Here’s Smooth Move People’s five-step approach to getting the job done right. We think this is the best way to pack books for moving, including using acid-free paper, protecting book spines, packing boxes correctly, and common mistakes to avoid.

1. Gather Your Materials

The first step to packing your books is to get all your materials together in one place. You’ll need acid-free paper to wrap your books, suitable moving boxes that are strong enough to bear at least 40 pounds of weight, packing tape, and markers to label the boxes.

Make sure the boxes are not too big; if they’re too large, your books will slide, and the weight will shift during transport, which can damage them. Make sure the boxes you use are clean and dry. You don’t want dampness or moisture to ruin your books.

2. Prepare Your Books for Packing

Before packing your books, it’s important to prepare them. Remove bookmarks, dust jackets, and anything else that might snag or crease during packing. Next, use acid-free paper to protect the covers, pages, and corners of your books.

By wrapping your books in this specialized paper, you’ll keep them clean and prevent them from aging or yellowing during transport. Avoid using regular newspaper or tissue paper as these materials are not acid-free and may damage your books.

3. Pack Your Books Smartly

Packing your books smartly is crucial to ensure they don’t get damaged during transit. Firstly, pack books flat in the box, as packing them spine-up causes damage to the spine over time. Secondly, Pack your books tightly to prevent them from shifting and tearing the corners or spines. Third, use packing material such as bubble wrap to fill the sides of the box. Leave no room for the books to move around.

4. Seal the Box

Once you have packed your books tightly, seal the box with durable packing tape. Make sure you label the boxes with the contents, including what type of books are inside and whether they’re fragile in case of dropping or moving them. This labeling can help you when you reach the destination’s point, as you can quickly identify which box supplies what type of books.

5. Store Books Safely

It is important to store books in a cool, dry place, preferably not in the basement or garage, where they can be subject to moisture or humidity. Be sure to avoid stacking too many boxes of books. This can exert pressure on the boxes below, causing them to deform, and eventually, the books will get damaged. Store them off the floor to avoid dampness, and don’t place them near windows where sunlight can fade the covers and pages.

If the thought of your books possibly being harmed in your packing process makes your heart drop, consider using our professional packing services. We’re book lovers, too. And with decades of experience compared with other moving companies in the region, we’ve got you — and your books — covered.

Let us know if you need help moving your books or if you have any questions about bubble wrap, the right number of layers of tape, and how best to label your boxes.

We’ve been Portland movers for both local and long-distance moves since 1989. Get in touch with us today — and let us know if you’ve read any good books lately.

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