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How to Pack Books When Moving House

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

11th Sep 2018 (Last updated on 4th Jan 2021) 6 minute read

Your books will be one of the heaviest items to pack when it comes to moving house. Many of us will underestimate the importance of packing books correctly and will inevitably overfill the box. Poorly stacked books will lead to dented spines, torn pages and potentially water damage to your collection, so it’s important to know the best ways to pack books for moving.

People often misjudge the consequences that could come from not packing your books safely, especially if you have any special editions or valuable books. A bit of tissue paper, bubble wrap and small cardboard boxes are all you need to ensure no damage is done to your beloved book collection.

House removals experts, Compare My Move have put together this ultimate guide containing everything you need to know about packing every type of book. From the best method to pack antique books to the suitcase trick, we’ve included all the ways to help you pack your books for moving house.

How to Pack Books When Moving
  1. Tips For Packing Books
  2. How to Pack Different Books
  3. Paperback Books
  4. Hardback Books
  5. Fragile Books
  6. Antique Books
  7. Storing Books
  8. Save on Your Home Removal Costs

Tips For Packing Books

We’ve created a step by step guide on how to pack your books before moving house. These 6 steps should be taken before you start to pack your books away to help prevent any kind of damage to your favourite collection. Don’t risk damage by throwing them in the last minute, here are our top tips for packing books:

how to pack books

1. Declutter

Before starting, you must first clean and declutter to sort through your books and decide which ones you want to bring with you and which ones to donate. This way, you won’t have to carry your whole collection, saving you money in the long run as the fewer items you have to move, the less it'll cost.  

Decluttering before moving house is beneficial to do with all of your personal belongings, not just with your books. It will help to reduce your removal costs as the removal company will have less to load, meaning a quicker and more efficient relocation.

2. Categorise

After you’ve chosen the books that will be coming with you and which ones are going to the charity shop, you should then categorise them and get them in some sort of order. Create separate piles of the different types of books like paperbacks, hardbacks, antique books, fragile ones and books you’re going to put in storage.

This will not only help when packing your books, but it will also ensure that the unpacking process is a lot more efficient too. The more organised you are, the easier the process will be.

3. Use Small Boxes

Many people will make the mistake of packing all their books into one big cardboard box. However, by doing this, the box is going to be extremely heavy and will increase the likelihood of damage and accidents. Instead, spread the weight of your books over a few small to medium-sized boxes, the books will slot in neatly and be much easier to lift.

4. Prepare the Boxes

You’ll want to prepare your boxes efficiently to maximise the safety of your books, especially if you have any valuable or sentimental ones. Collect a few small to medium-sized boxes for packing your books. Use tissue paper as a lining along the bottom of the box to act as a protective layer for the spines. Make sure all the books are packed flat so that no pages are torn or crinkled. 

Make sure you have plenty of protective materials nearby like bubble wrap and tissue paper so that you can fill any gaps and prevent damage. You could even use clothes as a protective barrier if you don’t have the materials available or would prefer to save some extra cash

5. Pack Books in a Suitcase

Using a suitcase with wheels will relieve any heavy lifting as you can drag the weight of the books without feeling the full strain. By packing your books into a suitcase, you’re not only making it easier to transport, but you’d be making more room for other items. You should pack the heaviest books in the suitcase first to spread the weight out.

6. Get Creative

An item like a laundry basket or a hamper/picnic basket can double up as a crate to carry and pack books for a move. You won’t have to worry about the bottom of it breaking as you would with a cardboard box either.  

This is also a fun alternative to help get everyone involved in the packing if you’re moving house with children as you could assign everyone with a particular task or even turn it into a competition to see who finds the most creative way to pack books for moving house.

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How to Pack Different Books

There’s a variety of different type of books that all require specific treatment when it comes to packing for moving house. You should always pack the same type of book together as they’ll need the same level of care and protection as other similar type books. It also just makes unpacking easier for you once you get to your new home. 

We’ve put together the ultimate guide on packing specific books so you know exactly how to pack each type to prevent torn pages and damage to the covers.

How to Pack Paperback Books

  1. Pack the books spine down and the pages facing outward to prevent ripped pages.
  2. Don’t overfill the boxes, carry the weight over a few separate boxes.
  3. Fill in any gaps and also the top of the books with tissue paper, creating protective layers.
  4. Once you’ve packed the books, cover the top with bubble wrap or tissue paper and tape the box firmly shut.

How to Pack Hardback Books

  1. Line the box with paper or tissue to stop damage to the spine.
  2. As hardback books are the heaviest, pack them in a few smaller boxes instead to reduce any physical strain.
  3. If you’re packing two layers of books, pack the heaviest books at the bottom.
  4. Add in packs of silica gel on top to absorb any moisture that could damage the books.

How to Pack Fragile Books

  1. Wrap any extremely fragile books in paper for extra protection before packing.
  2. Place pieces of cardboard between each book to prevent damage.
  3. Once stacked, cover the top of the books with bubble wrap and firmly seal the box with tape.
  4. Label the box with a fragile label to ensure that the removal company aware and can take more care when moving it.

How to Pack Antique Books

  1. Don’t touch the books with any food or drink grease that could be on your hands.
  2. Wrap your valuable or first edition books in tissue and extra bubble wrap to prevent any torn pages.
  3. Don’t over pack the box, keep some space between the books to prevent damage to the covers.
  4. Try not to expose the books or the box itself to light during the move as this can lighten and damage the material and ink.

How to Pack Books for Storage

  1. Make sure the books are clean and free of any dirt before they go in storage.
  2. Keep the same books together. For example, all hardback books in the same box.
  3. If you’re storing old or fragile books for a long time, use acid-free tissue paper and boxes to avoid decay.
  4. Keep the books in storage off the ground to avoid moisture and any leaks damaging them.

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Save on Your Home Removal Costs

Now that you know how to prepare and pack books for moving house, it's time to get moving and sort out your home removal. Compare My Move will help you get connected with up to 6 professional removal companies in your area, saving you up to 70% off your house removal costs along the way. Don't get stuck moving all those books alone, find a helping hand with a Compare My move partner today. 

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Co-Founder and Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the co-founder and director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.