Books are precious cargo, and packing and moving them properly is an important consideration when you are relocating. If you have a sizable library that seems to grow every week, moving books safely might seem overwhelming. Taking proper care of your collection while in transit can seem nearly impossible once you realize just how heavy they are! Here are four steps to simplify the process and protect your collection.

1. Start With A Book Purge

We know, it hurts to hear. Anyone who has been in a home for three years or more would benefit from going through their bookshelves with a critical eye, but it becomes even more imperative when every book is going to add weight and effort to your move. We’re not telling you to throw out all of your most important possessions, just to downsize as much as humanly possible. Go through each title to determine whether it is a book you intend to read again or share with others. Does it have sentimental or functional value? Is it a reference book you will return to again and again? If you come across a novel you didn’t like very much the first time, or a book written by your friend’s second cousin that doesn’t look interesting to you, it’s time to say goodbye. You can donate your books to a non-profit organization, take them to a little free library (but don’t pick up an equal number in exchange!) or sell books with value on websites like Powell’s or Bookscouter.

2. Prepare Your Books and Your Boxes

As you purge your titles, sort all of your books by size. This will make the process of packing and moving your books go much more smoothly. Once your books are organized in neat stacks, it’s time to make sure your boxes are strong enough to handle them. If you are using cardboard boxes, reinforce the bottoms with packing tape, especially if your boxes have been used before. Another option is to rent plastic boxes, which are generally sturdier and more effective in bearing heavy cargo like books. Finally, make sure you have some brown craft paper for wrapping your most valuable books and some bubble wrap or other cushioning materials to fill in the spaces in your boxes. Newspaper is not recommended for packing books because of the risk of the newsprint coming off and leaving marks on their covers.

3. Pack Your Books With Care

Once your boxes are prepared and your books are organized, it’s time to arrange them in the boxes so that they can be transported to their new bookshelf without incident. A key concept in moving books is placing them in the boxes correctly; never pack books with the spine facing up or they could get warped.

Other tips for packing books:

  • Two safe options are to arrange the books with the spine facing out, the way they sit on your shelf, or to stack them flat.

  • Be careful not to pack the books too tightly, though, or they could bend or scratch each other.

  • When books are valuable or have particular sentimental value, like family photo albums or first edition prints, you should wrap them in brown paper before arranging them in boxes.

  • Because boxes filled with only books can become prohibitively heavy, one helpful idea is to fill half of a box with books and the other half with lighter household items or clothing.

  • Be sure you label your boxes accurately so that your books end up in the right room at your new home.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help When Moving Books

Moving companies are trained in the optimal way to pack and transport your books or any items, and with their expertise and proper packing supplies, you can ease your concerns over moving your valuables safely. Since 1972, the best choice for your Chicago move has been Bernard Movers. We offer affordable, professional and courteous service and take the stress out of the moving process. We can supply boxes or materials or do the packing for you. Just contact us and let us show you how smooth a move can be.