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How To Pack Books for Moving (2024 Guide)

Author Image Written by Shane Sentelle Updated 04/03/2024

If you’re a book lover getting ready to move, you may dread the thought of packing up your library. It’s a big task, but it’s manageable. We’ve compiled this guide on how to pack books for moving, whether you’re hiring professional movers or doing it yourself.

Sort Your Books

Sort through your books before you start packing. Decide which ones you want to keep and which you can part with. This step is crucial, as it will help you reduce the number of books you need to pack, saving you time, energy, and money. It will also help you organize your boxes.
Separate paperback and hardcover: Separate your books into two groups. Pack flexible paperback books together, and pack rigid hardcover books separately to avoid damaging their covers.
Sort by size: Pack larger books at the bottom of the box and smaller ones on top. This arrangement will help prevent damage to the books during transportation.
Sort by importance: Keep the books you use frequently or those most valuable to you separate from the others. Packing these books in their own box will make it easier to find them when you arrive at your new home.
Sort by genre or topic: If you have a large book collection and want to make unpacking easier, consider sorting your books by genre or topic. For example, you can pack all your cookbooks together in one box, your art books in another box, and your novels in a third box. 
Sort by author: If you’re a book collector or have a vast collection of books by a particular author, consider sorting your books by the author’s last name. This method will make finding and placing books on the bookshelves in your new home easier.
Sort by age or condition: You can sort old and new books by age or condition if you have a mix of old and new books. Pack new books together in good condition so they don’t get damaged during transportation. Pack older books separately, as they may be more fragile and require additional care.

Consider donating or selling books that you no longer need or want. This way, you can reduce the amount of clutter in your new home and make your move lighter—especially if you’re hiring a long-distance moving company

Donating your books is a good way to give back to your community. You can donate them to local libraries, schools, or charity organizations.

Alternatively, if you need some moving cash, you can sell your books online or to a used bookstore. You can sell books on many online marketplaces, including Amazon and eBay, and you can also try bookstores in your area.

Gather Boxes and Packing Materials

You’ll need sturdy cardboard boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, and packing tape. Consider purchasing high-quality materials to ensure your books are well-protected during the move. You can find packing supplies at an office supply store, home improvement store, or online retailer. Many interstate and long distance moving companies also sell packing supplies.

Choosing the right size boxes is essential based on your books’ size and weight. Use smaller boxes for heavy books so they’ll be easier to carry. Reserve bigger boxes for extra tall or light books. As you assemble and close the boxes, reinforce the sides, seams, and bottom with packing tape to ensure they don’t break during transport.

Packing paper is the most common packing material. It provides a protective layer around each book and helps prevent damage from rubbing or bumping against other books during the move. Bubble wrap is an excellent choice for protecting fragile or valuable books. Use it to wrap the cover and spine of hardcover books or to provide extra cushioning for delicate books.

Pack Your Books

Prepare the boxes by taping the bottom and reinforcing the sides before packing any books. Use small boxes for heavy books and larger boxes for lighter ones. Fill empty spaces with packing paper or bubble wrap to prevent shifting during transportation.

Stack paperbacks horizontally. Stand hardcovers upright with the spines facing out. Avoid packing books too tightly, as this can damage the bindings.

Label Your Boxes

Once a box is packed and sealed, use a marker to write the contents on the outside. Be as specific as possible, labeling each box with the type of book it contains, such as “romance paperbacks” or “science fiction hardcovers.” This organization makes it easier to unpack and locate specific books. If your books are in different rooms, label the boxes with the room where they belong, too.

Keep a master list of all the boxes of books and their contents. This list will make it easier to keep track of your belongings and take inventory once the boxes arrive at your new home. Numbering the boxes can also help.

Consider Alternate Packing Methods

The safest way to pack your books is in heavy-duty moving boxes specifically designed for books. However, you might prefer quick or cost-effective alternatives if you’re moving on a budget or have less than a week to pack

For instance, you can use bankers’ boxes instead of book boxes. These boxes are relatively cheap, small, and easy to assemble. You can also save time and money by packing some of your heaviest or oddly shaped books in rolling luggage. Hard-shell suitcases work especially well because they offer better protection.

Tips for Packing Books

Here are some additional packing tips when preparing your books for a move:
Use small or medium-sized boxes: These will be easier to lift and move.
Underpack large boxes: If you use larger boxes, only pack them 60%–75% full. Otherwise, they may break or be too heavy to lift.
Pack your books by size and weight: Place heavier books at the bottom of the box and lighter books at the top to keep the box balanced and reduce the risk of damage during transport.
Fill empty space with packing material: Fill any gaps or space in your book boxes with packing peanuts, balled-up packing paper, foam inserts, or another cushioning material to prevent the books from shifting.
Wrap books in acid-free packing paper: Wrap delicate or valuable books, such as photo albums, comic books, and rare editions, in acid-free packing paper to prevent them from rubbing against each other.
Pack hardcovers upright: Line up your hardcover books just as you would on a bookcase so they’re standing up with their spines pressed against the side of the box.