How to Pack and Move Books Like a Professional

Young man reading a book sitting on a skateboard in his new home
Tom Merton / Getty Imgaes.

If your home is like mine, you'll have lots of shelves with lots of books that you have to pack and move. While I always suggest getting rid of anything that you don't use or don't need, books are things that I have a hard time giving away.  But when it comes to packing the books that I want to keep and move, there are several ways to pack them. This guides will walk you through three different methods of packing books that are recommended by the college library in the town where I live.

Each day they pack and ship hundreds of books across the country.

Sort and Get Rid of Books

If you're moving long distance, have hired movers, and are being charged by weight, make sure you carefully go through your books and determine what you really want to keep and pay to move. Books are heavy. Even paperbacks can add up to a lot of money. And if you're like me, you tend to accumulate a lot over a short time, so find a good home for them and know that someone else will be getting just as much joy from reading them as you did.

Use the Right Box

Once you've decided what you're moving, choose a medium box and check to make sure it will hold the weight and that it's free from dampness, especially if it's a used box.

While I'm a huge fan of packing with used boxes, when it comes to books, you want to make sure the box is solid, will hold the weight and that there isn't any wetness that could harm your books.

You'll also need packing tape to seal the box bottom and top and a marker to label the box's contents.

Prepare the Box for Packing

If you bought new boxes, you'll need to put them together first. Make sure you seal the bottom well by doubling the amount of tape. If you're using a recycled box, I always tape the bottom again with packing tape to make sure it'll hold.

How to Pack Hardcover Books

Hardcover editions can be packed by placing them in the box standing upright, spine against the box's side, just like you were placing it on a shelf. If you pack books this way, make sure they're packed well, but not too tightly that they can be damaged when removing them.

If the hardcover editions are of moderate value, wrap each one in packing paper before placing them in the box.

Books of great value, such as old photo albums or first editions require stiff cardboard in between each to keep the spines straight and to prevent any movement. Each book should also be protected with paper and placed in a well-padded box. Bubble wrap or extra packing paper balled up can be used to line the box before you pack each book.

How to Pack Paperbacks

Hardcover editions, as well as paperbacks, can also be packed flat and stacked. Both book types may also be packed spine first with the paper edges facing up. To prevent damage, do not pack books with the paper edges facing down and spines up - this will cause books to warp and pages to bend.

Books can also be packed using all three methods in one box. Just make sure you don't pack books at odd angles.

Finally, use wadded-up paper to fill any remaining spaces. Books can shift easily during the move, causing damage.

Secure the Box

Tape the box closed and label it "books". In the moving truck, do not stack the boxes unless you can properly secure them. Again, books are heavy and if the boxes should topple, they can cause a lot of damage to furniture or other items that aren't as well protected.

Long Term Storage of Books

If you need to store books for any length of time, make sure the storage facility is dry and cool. And if your books are of high value, you may want to use acid-free paper instead of packing paper. Acid-free paper won't deteriorate or turn yellow over time.