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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 15th Mar 2024) 9 minute read

Many movers will underestimate the importance of packing books correctly and inevitably overfill the box. Poorly stacked books can lead to dented spines, torn pages and even water damage, 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 collection. It's important you locate quality packing materials to help protect your books and keep them safe during transit. You could even ask your removal company for packing materials to make the process more efficient.

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

  1. What Packing Materials Will You Need?
  2. How to Pack Different Types of Books
  3. Paperback Books
  4. Hardback Books
  5. Fragile Books
  6. Antique Books
  7. Storing Books
  8. Tips For Packing Books
  9. Packing Books for Storage
  10. Save on Your Home Removal Costs

What Packing Materials Will You Need?

As books are some of the heaviest items you'll pack for a move, it's essential you acquire sturdy and high-quality packing materials to support the weight and protect your items. Whether you're using cardboard boxes or old suitcases, make sure you thoroughly inspect the container for any holes or insects before you begin the packing process.

When packing books, you will need:

  • Strong cardboard or plastic boxes
  • Labels and a pen
  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing paper or old newspapers
  • Packing tape

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How to Pack Different Types of Books

There’s a variety of different types of books that all require specific treatment. You should always pack the same type of book together as they’ll need the same level of care and protection. 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 with the pages facing outward to prevent ripped edges.
  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.
  5. To reinforce the box, add packing tape to each side to strengthen the edges.

How to Pack Hardback Books

  1. Line the box with paper or tissue to reduce the risk of 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.
  5. Once closed, sealed the box firmly with strong packing tape.

How to Pack Fragile Books

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

How to Pack Antique Books

  1. Don’t touch the books after handling any food or drink to avoid the grease staining the pages.
  2. Wrap your valuable or first edition books in tissue and extra bubble wrap to prevent any torn pages.
  3. Don’t overpack the box - place strips of cardboard in between to seperate the books and prevent damage.
  4. Try not to expose the books or the box itself to strong light during the move as this can lighten and damage the material and ink.
  5. Once firmly sealed, place a 'fragile' label onto the box.

How to Pack Books for Storage

  1. Make sure the books are clean and free of any dirt before they go into storage.
  2. Keep the same books together - for example, all hardback books should be 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.
  5. Compare storage facilities to ensure they have high levels of security and can protect your items for any length of time.

To learn more, read our guide on Moving House Storage.

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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.

Packing Books for Storage

Whilst packing books for storage will be fairly similar to packing them for moving house, there are a few extra steps to take to ensure they're protected from any risk of damage or damp in the unit.

The usual steps should be taken such as creating an inventory, categorising your boxes and clearly labelling them. However, to prepare your books for storage you must also:

  • Choose the correct container - Typically, the best container for storing books is a corrugated cardboard box that is sturdy and the right size. It should be less than 20" deep and must be free of dust, dirt, grease and moisture. Plastic containers can also be great options as they completely seal out moisture and are less susceptible to humidity and pests.
  • Prepare the books - When packing your books, line the boxes with packing paper or tissue to protect them from damp. Do not use newspaper as it is less durable. Use a cover jacket if you have one and make sure the books are completely free of dust and dirt before inserting them into the boxes.
  • Pack them standing up - As most books need air circulation when in storage, it's advised you pack them standing up inside the box. Keep some space between each stack and use protective materials such as bubble wrap or packing paper.
  • Keep pests out - Insects such as silverfish and booklice can burrow into books and feed on them, greatly damaging them. When choosing a storage unit, make sure the company is taking the right precautions for pest control. You can also use your own preventative measures such as cedar chips or blocks.
  • Store in the correct environment - The safest storage facilities for books are indoor climate-controlled storage units. These specialist units maintain temperature and humidity all year-round, protecting your goods.

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 guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

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

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