Everyone knows books aren't immune to wear and tear, but we prefer it to happen on our own terms.
Books make a versatile and thoughtful gift item and are one of the most common types of item to be sent by post or courier. With a little preparation, you can package and send books that arrive in mint condition every time.
Bubble wrap as standard
Although books typically aren't fragile, they are susceptible to the elements - water is a book's worst enemy. To that end, you should always wrap any books you're sending in a protective layer of bubble wrap, no matter how you plan on packaging it.
It may add bulk to your package, but it won't affect the weight of the package by much. One or two layers of regular bubble wrap should protect a book from all but the worst conditions. If you're particularly worried about water damage, once the book is wrapped in bubble wrap, consider placing it in a plastic bag. This will help provide additional waterproofing.
Box or bag?
When it comes to packaging books, a box is always the superior choice. Packaging books in a flexible envelope leaves them susceptible to being bent while in transit, which can damage the covers, crease the book and even have it arrive with dog-ears, which is less than ideal.
If a book is in an envelope and is dropped on its corners, it can arrive in a damaged state. If you have no choice but to send the book in an envelope, there are some steps you can take to ensure the book will arrive in as good a condition as possible.
First, wrap the book in bubble wrap and then sandwich it between two pieces of sturdy cardboard at least an inch larger than the book, using tape to hold the 'sandwich' in place. The cardboard will absorb the impact if the book is dropped on any of its edges.
Ideally, however, you'll be sending the book in a cardboard box. Take time to find a box that is an appropriate size.
Under no circumstances should you use a box that is too small, as folding or rolling the book to fit into the box will guarantee it arrives in poor condition. The correct size is an inch or two larger than the book. Wrap the book in a protective layer of bubble wrap and place into the box.
Fill any excess space with lightweight packing material. Loosely crumpled newspaper is an ideal choice. If there is a lot of excess space in the box, consider placing the book between two layers of packing material so it's centred within the box for maximum protection.
The object is to prevent the book from hitting the sides of the box. If you're not sure you've achieved this, shake the box gently to see how much the book moves around. It can take a little practice, but before long it will become second nature.