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Packing Up Your Library: How to Pack Books for Moving

According to a Gallup survey, the average American reads roughly 12 books per year. That might not seem like much, but over time, that can add up to a lot of shelf space. If you’re moving and have an extensive book collection, one of the first questions you’ll want to ask before relocating is: how can I pack up my library without damaging my books? 

Read on for tips on how to pack books for moving—straight from the experts.

How to Prepare Your Books for a Move

As with the rest of your belongings, we recommend culling your collection down to only that which sparks joy. Thank you, Marie Kondo.

Start by paring down the books you never touch—vacation reads, impulse purchases, or books you never got around to finishing. Your new home should be an oasis that includes only your favorite things. Have your family members do the same; take the afternoon together to choose which books everyone absolutely needs to take with them.

After you have all of your favorites stacked neatly into a “keep” pile, donate the rest to your local library, church, or school. Now, you’re ready to begin packing.

How to Pack Books the Right Way

We’ll cut to the chase: Many people make one simple mistake when deciding how to pack books for moving. That mistake is to pack books as if they were being placed on a bookshelf—vertically. 

We suggest stacking them flat against the bottom of the box. Start with bigger, heavier books on the bottom and lighter books at the top. 

You also want all the books in each stack to have the same width. Each layer of books should be level, as this will help avoid damage. Next, you’ll want to fill the gaps left behind after your biggest hardback books have been squared away, no pun intended. 

In these spaces, squeeze in smaller books, preferably lightweight books with soft covers. Keep Tetris-ing them in until no free space remains. If you have a few boxes with empty spaces, cushion your books with packing voids, packing peanuts, or even spare towels or other soft fabric. This will help prevent shifting in transit.

As for how many books you should pack in each box, let’s focus on weight. The general recommendation is to keep each box lighter than 35 pounds. It sounds like a lot, but it can be all too easy to go way past that if you’re not careful. Here’s a tip to help you stay on track: use small boxes. That way, they’ll never weigh more than you can move. 

How to Pack Fragile Books 

Heirlooms, antique books, or expensive art books deserve a little special treatment. We suggest setting any fragile or sentimental books off to the side as you pack so that you can box them separately. 

Cover valuable books with acid-free paper, as this will protect their covers from getting nicked or torn. For especially fragile books, buffer the box with something soft both above and below—a few clean towels or old clothes will work just fine.

Sealing the Deal

Once every box is full enough to close, the rest is simple. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to wrap the entire thing in moving tape.

Close the box, seal the seam in the middle, and tape over both edges. Do the same for the bottom, and you should be good to go.

If you’re hiring movers, they’ll do the heavy lifting for you and will oversee any in-vehicle anchoring to prevent the boxes from toppling over. If you’re transporting the boxes yourself, use safety ties, ropes, ratchet straps, or even just the seatbelts in your car to keep everything stable as you drive.

The key to how to pack books correctly is to take your time. Tuck your collection in carefully so  they’ll be in pristine condition upon arrival at your new home. 

Get Help With Moving Your Books (And Everything Else)

For a shelf-ready move, get in touch with Colonial Van Lines. We can give you a free quote for your move as well as moving tips and additional services. Let Colonial Van Lines be your all-inclusive moving resource.

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