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Turning over a new leaf: the best packaging for shipping books

No Comments    |    , ,     |    July 18, 2022    |    Reading time 7 minutes
Image containing a hand puling down a book from a booj shelf with the front cover of the book entitled "A Guide to Packaging for Books"

When you’re looking online for guidance about packaging books for ecommerce, two things jump off the page. The first is that there’s a huge amount of advice and opinions out there. And the second is that though this advice is invariably well intentioned and clearly has both the customer’s satisfaction as well as the product’s safe passage firmly in mind, all too often words like ‘bubble wrap,’ ‘packing peanuts,’ ‘plastic’ and even ‘staples’ crop up.

So that’s why we wrote this blog post: We’re here to show you that no compromise is necessary when it comes to packaging books, not for your customers, not for your business and certainly not for the environment.

But, what do we need to bear in mind when packing and shipping books? And how can we avoid environmentally unfriendly pitfalls whist maintaining customer satisfaction and ensuring that any book – whether highly rare and collectible or designed to be read on the beach or by the pool – gets to its destination in an identical condition to how it was upon dispatch?

To understand the packaging, first we must take a look at the product…

Table of Contents

The Life Changing Magic of Books

‘Books are precious’ is a phrase drummed into many of us right from our very first forays into reading. And of course, it’s not just the book itself that is valuable - a first edition, a work now out of print, or even an expensive hard backed picture book - it’s also the contents.

child holding a book and staring through it's pages shaped like a love heart - portrays love of books

Books are educational, transformative, comforting; they fire our imaginations, reassure us we’re not alone and enable us to visit worlds of which we can only dream. We get to meet people we’d otherwise never know, gaining insight into their lives, their emotions and their motivations. Books enable us to make sense of the big wide world without having to leave the comfort of our own homes. With a few well-chosen words, they can make us scream with laughter or sob in anguish and whether or not we’re committed bibliophiles or just occasional readers, we can all agree that there’s nothing worse than a battered spine, a creased cover or torn and missing pages.

  • Book Wrap Packaging 216 x 151 x 0-51mm

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  • Book wrap mailer carrying two kids games

    Book Wrap Mailers 251 x 163 x 0-70mm

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  • Photo of a Book wrap with a popular family card game on top

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  • Large book wrap mailer holding a fact book about animals

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  • Large book wrap for shipping big box games, puzzles, books and maps

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The Second Hand Book Market

However, books don’t always have to be enjoyed in pristine condition; they just have to be in the condition expected of them by the buyer. More than ever, in the spirit of saving money and recycling, consumers are turning to sites such as World of Books and Abe Books where used books are given a new lease of life and can be bought at a fraction of their original price.

very old book in front of shelves containing books at a secondhand book shop

That said, these savvy companies are still extremely careful when it comes to describing condition and as far as delivery is concerned, even a cursory look at reviews shows that customers put great stock in speedy, secure and sustainable packaging. Just because something is second hand doesn’t mean it can be treated as second rate.

Sending books: the common pitfalls

This brings us to the potential perils of sending a book through the post and ultimately to the best packaging for the job.

Impact and other hazards

Any ecommerce business will worry about damage caused by impact. Whatever the product, one concern is it getting bashed about in transit. All too often, irreparable damage is caused by something external to the packaging or – even more unforgivably – the packaging itself.

But impact damage isn’t the only hazard. With the sheer volume of items sent through the post nowadays, parcels can be at risk of being gauged, squashed, bent and torn. Then there’s the security aspect to think about: nobody wants to receive something that’s already been opened by someone else and with more and more deliveries being left on doorsteps, this – as well as inclement weather - needs to be taken into consideration. If someone’s intent on stealing something, they will, but secure packaging can significantly reduce opportunists. On the other hand, make packages too secure using the wrong materials - excess tape or cardboard - and that can make things trickier for customers as well. Packages that are hard to get into aren’t just frustrating, but a dust jacket risks being sliced by a knife or ripped if consumers are having trouble getting to the contents.

Prohibitive postage costs

There’s also no getting around the fact that a lot of books are heavy, which means postage costs can be high. Unfortunately, these aren’t the only expenses to consider: insurance and tracking costs can quickly add up amounting to more than the actual cost of the book itself or if it were purchased directly from a bookshop.

Impact on time and environment

Anything sent through the post needs to be packed snugly, but in the quest to achieve safe and secure transit, especially for books, lots of people fall back on bubble wrap, tissue paper, plastic wrap, packing peanuts, excess tape, staples or a combination of all of these things.

It’s not surprising considering the damage that can be caused in transit as to why so many of us are ultra cautious. Still, when packing a book is over complicated to the point of being inefficient, cumbersome and incredibly time consuming, it might be time to re-evaluate the process.
Booksellers may already choose to use cardboard, which is, of course, sustainable. They might follow copious amounts of online advice that suggests sandwiching books between carefully cut out sheets and finding the perfect sized box for each individual book. Whilst this seems like a sensible and sustainable approach, it’s certainly not a time-efficient one. Time spent cobbling packaging together, even if it is ecologically sound, will impact your bottom line enormously and it won’t result in a uniform, professional appearance either. Packaging is an easy way of marketing your brand and emphasising the quality of your product or service. Let it be haphazard or left to chance and, even if it’s green, your brand will suffer.

giant school girl sitting on top of a mountain reading books - image represents imagination and fantasy associated with reading books

So the upshot is that even if some of these materials do the job successfully can it be said that they truly do it sustainably? No, is the short answer. Excess packaging is wasteful and unnecessary when there are so many other sustainable, cost- and time-effective options for books available. There is also the impact on transport costs, transport efficiency and customer perception to be considered; excess packaging is bad for the environment, undermines customer loyalty and ultimately, it will hurt your business’ image.

Book Mailers: packaging to beat the perils

Really, when it comes to packaging books, there are three main considerations: Can a wide variety of books be packed efficiently? Can delivery be achieved safely and securely without compromising customer access? And finally, is the packaging used sustainable? Luckily, packaging continues to evolve and there is one product on the market that fulfils all these factors and then some: our book wrap mailer.

Wrap around design with variable height

Also known as postal wraps or cardboard panel wraps, the beauty of our book wrap mailers is that, in comparison to similar designs out there on the market, ours have double folded edges for superior impact protection. They’ve also been designed as a wrap-around design with variable height. This means that one single type of mailer can be ideal for books of different sizes.

Additionally, the variable height crease on our mailers enables it to fit tightly around one book or any number of books, minimising movement during transit and at the same time, eliminating the need for void fill. This of course saves on tape consumption and negates any need for clumsy cardboard inserts, staples, packing peanuts, padding or bubble wrap. And by far and away the best bit about our mailers? All these benefits exist in a product that can be assembled in as little as three seconds.

Tamper-proof and letterbox ready

little free library for sharing books in front of a park fence

Believe it or not (and you probably do having experienced it for yourself), there’s another reason why book mailers have become so popular with companies like Amazon who routinely use them to ship vast amounts of products like books and also items like board games and other large, flat, solid items.

This reason is the tamper-evident seals and the fact that mailers can be optimised for letterbox postage. Even better, once in the hands of the customer, mailers come with an integral tear cord which ensures they can be opened in seconds: no craft knives, no scissors and no bandages to stem any blood loss required.

Showing print design options for different sizes of packaging for made for shipping books.
Packaging for Books

Environmentally friendly

Made from kraft corrugated cardboard our book mailers are not only of extremely high quality, they’re also fully recyclable. Such is our commitment to the environment that even our tear cords are transitioning to plastic free.

Plus, if you order from us, not only are you supporting manufacturing and packaging supply businesses here in the UK, but you’re also enabling us to contribute to reforestation projects via our membership with Ecologi, an organisation which is committed to helping families and businesses offset their negative environmental footprint. We’re deadly serious about our packaging and we’re deeply committed to doing our bit to help the environment as well.

To conclude

So… if you think the ways in which you package your books for shipment could do with an overhaul and you’re on the same page as us in terms of liking the idea of sending your books in mail wraps which are cost effective, simple to construct and have a unique integral double-strength impact protection, reach out and contact us today.

Our pledge is to give any business – big or small, well established or starting out – consistent access to environmentally friendly packaging materials in a way that is sustainable, not just for the planet, but also in terms of your company’s dispatch process.

You’ll find you end up with happier customers and a lot of extra time on your hands. More than enough certainly to be able to relax with a good book…

This article was written by...

Jo Hilton

I studied at the University of St. Andrews and have an MA in French and German. For a number of years, I worked for a Swiss financial institution and lived in Hamburg, London, Zürich and NYC before retraining as a primary school teacher and settling with my family in Cambridgeshire. When I'm not at school, I write content for various blogs and edit academic research articles for clients at ETH Zürich and the University of Munich. I'm also in the process of completing a Masters in Crime and Thriller writing at the University of Cambridge, so behind me you'll find a trail of fictional dead bodies and actual biscuit wrappers.

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