How to Pack Books for Moving the Right Way

There's a common saying that books are a man's best friend. Those who read can relate to it. If you're an avid reader, chances are high that you have a shelf full of books, if not a whole room. And if you decide to move, how you protect your books matter a lot.

That's where we come in. We plan on educating you on everything that goes into boxing books when you move.

Essential Packing Supplies for Book Moving

The first thing you need to consider before moving your book collection is the packing materials you're going to need. Of course, the chore requires very specific materials to make sure you don't damage your valuable collection.

Start by gathering sturdy cardboard boxes. You can go for any size as long as they serve the purpose. But we recommend use smaller boxes or medium-sized boxes. The idea is simple. Books are weighty, and larger boxes can become too cumbersome to lift. You can also get plastic containers from your local home depot and avoid boxes entirely.

Next, you'll need packing paper or bubble wrap. You want them to cushion your books and protect them from the bumps during transit.

You should also consider using packing tape that's strong enough to securely seal the boxes. This prevents them from opening or tearing under the weight. It's also a good idea to have a permanent marker handy for labeling the moving boxes for books. You do want to know which box contains what type of books, right?

Last but not least, if you have valuable, rare, or sentimental books, consider acid-free paper for wrapping them. This special paper provides extra protection against moisture and keeps your precious books safe from the elements.

Preparation Phase 

Now that you have the packing essentials, it's time to prepare! Typically, this phase involves sorting the collection of books, donating unwanted ones, and gathering all of your supplies in one place.

Sorting Your Books

Before you start packing your books for a move you need to sort them. No matter how much you say that you love them equally, you definitely have favorites. And we recommend giving them extra care.

Here's the general outline of how you should approach it.

  • Categorize by Size and Type: Sort your books by size and type. Keep hardcovers and heavy books together and do the same with paperback books. This makes packing more uniform and helps in stacking books efficiently in boxes.
  • Prioritize by Usage: Separate books you read frequently from those you rarely read. Consider packing the books you won't need immediately at the bottom of the boxes. Keep the ones you use often for last, so they are easily accessible. And you can get a few pages in before the big move!
  • Get Rid of Some: Moving is a great opportunity to declutter. Go through your books and set aside ones you no longer need or want. You can donate, sell, or give these books away. Needless to say, reducing the number makes packing and moving easier and lighter.
  • Check for Special Care Books: Identify books that need special care, like antique or rare editions. These might require additional packing materials or techniques to ensure their safety during the move.
  • Prepare a Separate Box for Essentials: If you have books you'll need right up to moving day or immediately after moving, pack them in a separate, easily accessible box. Label it clearly so you can find it quickly.

Label the Boxes

Labeling boxes when moving books is not just important; it's a crucial step in ensuring a smooth unpacking process. If you can't guess already, proper labeling helps you quickly identify the contents of each box. As a result, it saves time and effort when you're settling into your new space.

Here's another general guideline on how you should approach.

  • Use a Permanent Marker: Permanent markers are a lifesaver when you're moving and packaging books. You should write directly on the box or on adhesive labels using the marker for clarity. You can also try using regular pens, but we don't recommend it. They can most definitely smudge or fade which makes them hard to read.
  • Be Specific: Instead of just writing "Books," specify the type or category, like "Novels," "Cookbooks," or "Children's Books." If you've sorted the books by room, such as "Living Room" or "Study," include that information too.
  • Mark the Room: Indicate the room in your new home where each box should go. This makes it easier for movers or helpers to place the boxes in the correct spots.
  • Highlight Fragile Items: If any box contains delicate or valuable books, clearly mark it as "Fragile" to ensure careful handling.
  • Indicate Orientation: Some books of specific spines that are dependent on the orientation. Marking which side of the box should face up can prevent damage to these books.

Packing Techniques for Book Transportation

When you learn how to pack books for moving, it's not as simple as putting them in the box and sealing it up. You actually need to be mindful of how you put them in the box depending on the type. In some cases, you'll also need to address the sentimental value you have attached to the books!

Below are the best ways to box books for the moving process that we know of. You can mix a few of these types as well!

Flat Packing Technique

By far, the safest and easiest way to pack books for moving. You simply have to lay your hardcover books flat in the box, stacking them one on top of the other.

Why does this work, you ask?

Well, this approach helps in evenly distributing the weight and prevents damage to the book spines. Ensure the books are of similar size in each layer for stability.

Upright Packing Technique

This is a bit different and may even feel outright counterintuitive! But hear us out. It's one of the best way to ship books for several reasons! But let us take you through the technique first.

What you have to do is stand your books upright, as you do on a shelf. Ideally, you should put the paper edges face up. It's a crowd-favorite for paperbacks and books you might need quick access to.

One of the main reasons bookworms love this way to move books is that it minimizes the bending or warping of the pages. Also, unpacking is a lot easier when you already have the books ready to go onto the shelf.

Spine-Down Packing Technique

Yet another unique take on how to pack books for shipping. You have to place books with their spines facing down in the box. This method works wonders when you pack a mix of sizes and shapes of books in the same box. It helps in keeping the box balanced and protects the pages from damage.

Additional Tips for Packing Books Before Moving

Now that you're well-versed in the techniques of packing books for a move, we want to make your plan foolproof. Here are some additional tips you should employ when you learn the best way to ship books.

Fill the Gaps with Cushioning

No matter how hard you try, there will be gaps in the packing. You should fill them in the box with soft packing materials. You can easily use accessible materials, such as bubble wrap or even balled-up packing paper.

Why it's important, you ask? Well, this prevents the books from shifting during transport and protects the corners and covers from damage.

Avoid Overpacking

You might want to cram as many books in a box as possible to keep the number of moving boxes for books low.While it's tempting, you should avoid overpacking at any cost.

One of the main reasons you want to do that is you don't want the boxes to be heavy. Heavy boxes are hard to move and obviously more prone to breaking. The weight of the boxes should always be manageable for you or the movers.

Special Care for Valuable Books

Last but not least, you should always address sentimental value. Or, you might simply have old books that cost a lot! Whatever the case is, you should consider wrapping them individually in soft packing paper or bubble wrap.

Transporting Books

Congratulations! You're on the final stretch of learning how to pack your books for moving. At your current location, you have loading left. Then, there is transporting and unloading the boxes at your new place.

What is the best way to transport books, you ask? Well, it's obviously a moving truck. Or, if you're only moving with books, your car or a friend's truck should do the job.

Start by loading the heaviest boxes of books first. The idea is to place them at the bottom of the moving truck or vehicle. This also creates a stable base for the lighter boxes!

You should always aim to distribute the weight evenly on both sides of the truck to maintain balance during transportation. It eliminates the risk of tipping the boxes over, which can seriously damage your previous collection.

When on the move, ensure your books are well-protected and won't shift or fall. If possible, use straps to secure the boxes and books during the move, and right moving supplies. As sudden movements can cause damage to the books as well as other things you might be carrying in the same truck. So, drive carefully and avoid rough roads to minimize the risk.

As it's a lot to handle, we highly recommend hiring professional movers. They have the expertise, equipment, and manpower to handle the task. It's also a cost-effective option if that's what you're worried about.

Unpacking and Organizing Books After the Move

After moving, unpacking your books can be a satisfying conclusion to the relocation process. Now, it's time to put everything back to where they belong.

Begin by opening the boxes in the rooms where the shelf is. If you labeled them properly, the movers should've already put the boxes in the right room.

After unpacking, place the books back on the shelves in the order you prefer, whether it's by genre, author, or color. If you had previously categorized your books during packing, this process should now be a breeze.

Now, get a cup of coffee and get comfy on your rocking chair to wrap up the night.


Unless you've read a lot of books on how to pack them for moving, we helped you to prepare for the big day. Now you know the best way to pack books for moving and you can employ our techniques when packing books.

Of course,  to avoid the hassle, hire professional moving companies.

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