Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Q & A: How to safely ship books

Q: What’s the best way to ship books?

A: The short answer is, “Carefully!” The long answer is, “As you would package any delicate item for shipment.”

A lot depends on what you might be shipping with the book and under what conditions it will be shipped.

If you are shipping a book with soft items you need less protective packaging for the book. However, if you’re shipping a book with metal, glass, or breakable plastic items, you should use bubblewrap or other protective packaging.
If you are shipping the book to a warm, humid climate, consider enclosing some moisture absorbent packets and enclose them in a sealed or sealable plastic bag. If the book will travel in the cold, such as by plane, truck, or rail, enclose it in a sealed plastic bag. If the book will travel by boat or stored for any time in a warehouse or storage facility, seal it in a couple of layers of sealed plastic.
Even if you wrap the book for holidays, enclose the whole package in sealed plastic.

If you are shipping the book (or books) separately, use a protective envelope and seal the envelope well. If you are shipping in a box, use a larger box with lots of space around the book(s), and surround the book(s) with shipping peanuts or wadded newspaper or other shipping filler.

The ideal conditions for a book are 60 degrees temperature and 60 percent humidity, housed in a clean environment. Try to match those conditions as much as possible, considering you have little if any control over the shipping circumstances.

Note: Despite any appearance to the contrary, a book is a delicate item. It is made of cardboard and paper exposed on three ends. When it encounters water or other liquids, the tendency of the paper is to absorb or wick the liquid, which is true for each and every page in the book. Wet pages warp and ink smears. Mold thrives on damp paper in dark places. Paper will deteriorate under these conditions. To preserve the value of the book, protect it from these elements.

Ready to wrap and ship? Pakmail and other consumer shippers can help advise you and many even have the materials on-hand, so don't hesitate to involve a pro.

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