How to Send Books by Post

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. Some online marketplace giants like Amazon started out just selling books, which goes to show how many people want to send and receive them every day.

Books are also very simple to send, as they are usually fairly compact and resilient. However, if they are packaged incorrectly, there is a chance they could become damaged in transit. Read on to find out how you can easily avoid this.

Wrap the book

Although books typically aren't fragile, they are susceptible to the elements - water is a book's worst enemy. You’re going to want to minimise any chance of water damage, so ensure any book you send in the post is tightly wrapped in bubble wrap - we recommend at least two layers of the stuff. If the book you are sending is fragile (e.g. it is old, or has sustained damage to its spine) then bubble wrap will also act as an extra buffer against damage. A more fragile book should be wrapped in 3-4 layers of bubble wrap.

Bubble wrap may add bulk to your package, but it won't affect the weight by too much. One or two layers of regular bubble wrap should protect a book from all but the worst conditions. For maximum peace of mind, it may also be worth packaging the wrapped book in a sealed plastic bag. This will help provide additional waterproofing.

Box up the book

When it comes to packaging books, a box is always the superior choice. Boxes are structurally sound and can absorb knocks and movement in a way other types of package cannot. However, not just any box will do - the key to boxing up a book, or any item for that matter, securely is to find one which is the right size for what you are sending.

Under no circumstances should you use a box that is too small; squeezing, rolling or folding a book to force it into an undersized box is almost guaranteeing it will arrive damaged in some way. Any book should be housed in a box an inch or two larger than it. This way, it will fit snugly without getting squashed or shifting around too much.

Fill the space in the box

There should be a limited amount of excess space in the box once the book has been placed in - roughly a couple of inches all around the book. This space should be filled entirely - polystyrene packing chips are ideal for this, but loosely crumpled newspaper is a more than adequate alternative. If you can only use a box which is slightly too big and leaves a bit too much room, consider placing the book between two layers of packing material. This will make sure it stays centred in the box while travelling, ensuring its protection.

The object is to prevent the book from hitting the sides of the box. A gentle shake of the box will show you whether you have achieved this - if there is still too much empty space, a telltale rattling sound will alert you to this. It can take a little practice, but before long you will have the technique of a seasoned book sender. Seal the box with several layers of strong parcel tape and you’re good to go!

Send the book in an envelope

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. Your book is especially likely to sustain damage if dropped on its corners, something that isn’t a concern if in a box but very much is if in an envelope.

However, if you have no choice but to use an envelope instead of a box, there are some steps you can take to make your book less vulnerable to damage.

As we discussed before, the book should firstly be wrapped in at least two layers of bubble wrap and then sealed in a waterproof plastic bag. To secure the book properly in the envelope, sandwich it between two pieces of sturdy cardboard at least an inch larger than the book, using tape to hold the 'sandwich' in place. This cardboard will not absorb damage as well as a box with packing chips would, but it should protect the book’s corners somewhat. It may be worth investing in some protective corners which can be slid easily onto the book and help protect its corners further.

Once you have packaged your book as securely as possible, you’ll be ready to send it off to its destination. Use our online booking form to get a quote from one of our trusted, reliable couriers. Whether you’re sending a book as a birthday present to a loved one, or are selling one online, you’ll be able to get it where it needs to be quickly and affordably with ParcelBroker.