Six-point guide to help pack books for safe storage

World Book Day is a charity event in March in the UK and Ireland, renegades amongst other countries (along with Spain, Sweden and parts of the USA) by not celebrating International Book Day in line with the rest of the World. There is also International Children's Book Day (ICBD) which falls on or around Hans Christian Andersen's birthday, 2 April. 

And to celebrate books in all their glory, here’s our six-point guide to help pack books for safe storage:

1. Gather the boxes

Boxes should be strong, but not too big. Books are heavy and you want to keep them protected and easy to carry.

2. Lining the box

Tissue paper or packing paper are great to line the box before filling. This both helps the air circulate and offers a little protection from bumping.

3. Sort the books

Sort books into hardback books, softback books and folios; and then into sizes. Gently wrap to protect any particularly delicate or valuable books for extra protection, ideally in packing paper. Wrapping well will prevent opening during transit and offer additional protection. (Label the outer package for ease at unwrapping time.)

Make sure that no books to be packed are damp or mouldy. Damp and mould will spread.

By having the books sorted, you will be able to create piles to put into a box that make the best of the space. Make sure all book spines are in line with each other. This creates extra strength.

4. Start packing

Pack the books flat. Packing vertically can damage the spines and you could end up with curled pages and misshapen books.

Avoid overfilling boxes. A small gap (less than an inch) will allow air to circulate. A large one will let books move around and be damaged.

Because the books are in size order, you may have a pyramid shape if there aren’t enough books of the same size to complete the pile going to the top.  If this is the case, consider using two small books placed width-wise on top of the last book, but only if there is no overhang.

If you have one row of books, fill any the gap at the side with packing paper.

If you have two, place the spines of the two rows back-to-back in the middle, and fill both sides with packing paper.

If you have three rows, pack the first two as above. The put the third row in, keeping the spine in the middle (leaves outwards), but ensure there’s a buffer between the pages and the wall of the box.

And if you have four, create two rows of two as per the instructions above, but buffer between the two rows of two with lots of packing paper, as well as filling the outer edge.

5. Mind the gap

Paper, bedding or towels can be used to fill the gaps. Don’t be tempted to use newspaper – newsprint comes off. Or plastic, which can stick to books’ glossy surfaces. Your objective is to slop the books sliding around and damaging their ends.

6. Seal and label

Ensure that the box is well sealed with plenty of strong tape to keep it from opening.

Mark the box clearly that there are books inside, and indicate the top and the bottom on each side.

Don’t be tempted to mark the box fragile unless the contents are genuinely fragile. Whilst all boxes deserve care, friends helping you move, however careful, will pay less interest if all of the boxes are marked fragile rather than just the genuinely fragile ones.

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