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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

pack books for moving

Whether you’re an occasional reader or a bibliophile, how to pack books for moving is a question you will need answered. After all, these treasure troves and oceans of knowledge can get easily damaged when in transit. From the size of boxes to what you should avoid, we’ve got the low-down on how to pack books for moving. Read on to know more.

Sorting Your Books

With any move, there’s always the sorting that has to precede the packing and organizing. Sorting through your items helps you greatly, as you can get rid of very old things and donate or give away usable items you no longer want. This eventually helps you reduce the load of items you’ll need to pack and transport, making your move a whole lot cheaper than just packing everything you’ve got.

However, sorting through your books may be a much bigger challenge, simply because as bibliophiles, we can’t really bear to part with our books. Old books are retained on the precept of fondness, memory, value or simply to revel in that ‘old book smell’. However, as this is something that must be done, you’ll just have to power through. Read through the points we’ve listed down that you’re sure to find helpful when sorting your books.


1. Go Through All The Books

Find a big, spacious area of the house to do this, and preferably get someone to help you. Begin to go through all your books in an orderly manner to decide their fate.

2. Sort Them Into Piles

Sort all your books into three piles - those you definitely want to pack, those that you need to get rid of as junk, and those that you can donate or sell off. Sorting them into piles makes for an easy job later on. Ideally, you should only be retaining books that are in good condition and that you simply cannot part with. Any book that does not meet the 100% mark of being retained should be given away or gotten rid of.

Flip through the older books before you hurriedly throw them into the ‘to pack’ pile. Pages tend to turn yellow and frail, and the ink may have dulled resulting in a book that is too uncomfortable to read. Don’t hold on to these books as they are not worth the money it’ll take to pack them up. Let go of emotional connections and get rid of most of your kids’ baby books, holding onto only one or two that mean the most to you.

3. Make Lists

An easy way to get rid of books is by making a list. This way, it’ll be easier to spot duplicates or copies and you can then get rid of the older, more worn copy of the two without feeling like you’re going through a loss. Listing down the books you intend on packing saves you the need to make an inventory later on. You can later use this list to create a comprehensive, fantastic arrangement of your books once you’re settled in the new house.

List down the books you want to give away, especially those that are painful to part with. Once you’ve moved into the new house and you have the space, you can buy brand new copies of these books. Remember only to do this if you’ve moved into a more permanent setting and won’t have another move coming up in a long time! You can also use the list to circulate it among your friends and family to ask them who would like what book, and give them away to people you know will value them.

4. Contact Donation Centers

You can always have a yard sale for the books that are in good condition, time and space permitting.  But you also have the option of donating. Many donation centres are happy to accept books of good condition that have been lightly used. Several libraries and old age homes would also be happy to have them, so do your research well and contact one of these places. Consider leaving the children’s stories and picture books for orphanages, hospitals and daycare centers.

5. Throw Away The Worn Books

Some books are just too old and worn out to be read anymore. These need to be thrown away. Instead of just dumping them out, contact a local recycling center to arrange dropping them off. Some centers may even offer a pick-up. Alternatively, several junk removal companies drop off items at recycling centers. Ring them up and enquire if they offer this service so you can easily get rid of old books while helping the environment.

6. Organize Them By Size

Keep the books to be packed into piles based on their size. This will later help you when packing them.


Organizing Packing Material

With every move comes a whole ton of packing material, ranging from big and small boxes to tape and markers. A good way to stay ahead of the game when packing books for moving is by organizing all your packing material before you get started. This way, you can focus completely on packing them up in an orderly manner instead of constantly having to stop to hunt for more tape or packing paper.

Here’s some of the packing material you’ll need when packing books:


You’ll need good quality cardboard boxes ranging from a small to medium size. You can also use free or cheaply bought cardboard boxes; this helps to save up on expenses. However, ensure that these are still in good condition and they are not tearing, weak or dirty. And most importantly, make sure that the boxes are not damp at all.

Packing Paper

Packing paper is good to place on the bottom and sides of the boxes, as well as to be used as stuffing between gaps. Make sure it is of good quality, soft and clean, to not scratch your book surfaces. These can also go between books and around your valuable copies as a light layer of protection.

Bubble Wrap

A common material when it comes to moving, nothing beats bubble wrap as a shock absorbent.

Packing Tape

Make sure you don’t use ordinary tape like scotch, masking or duct tape for fastening down box lids as packing tape is made especially to withstand rough conditions and lots of movement.

Scissors And Cutting Blade

The worst part is having to stop everything and send out a manhunt for a pair of scissors to cut the tape or measure out the packing paper. Ensure you have a few of these on hand and always within sight.

Markers And Box Stickers

Labeling your boxes is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of organizing everything for the unpacking part of the move. Keep markers handy, and maybe even invest in special box stickers to make it easier to label your boxes.


How To Pack Books For Moving Using Boxes

This method tells you the best way to pack books in boxes, one of the most common ways to transport books when moving.

  • Pre-cut bits of packing paper into squares to make your job easier later on. However, make sure not to do this with all your paper. Keep full sheets intact to quickly cut into size when you need to.
  • Reinforce the bottom of the box by taping them in a particular way: run diagonal strips of tape to form an X, and tape up the side seams a few inches or 1/3rd of the way up. This helps it retain shape and prevents the bottom from caving under the weight of the books.
  • Place a sheet of packing paper on the bottom to have a layer of protection between your precious books and the bottom of the box. This saves them from dirt or leaks.
  • Use those squares to wrap up old or valuable books to protect them.
  • There’s three ways to go about packing your books, the first of which is placing them flat and stacking them up tightly. Do this with books of similar size, ideally picking the heavier ones to go at the bottom of the box. Or, place them upright and stack them one next to each other, with the open end of the book facing the box. Pick whatever you feel suits you best.
  • Make sure your books are packed in firmly, but not too tight as they may warp during the move or when struggling to remove them from their all too comfy placement.
  • Layer your books but ensure one layer is completely packed down and forms an even surface before you get started on the next.
  • Use packing paper or newspaper to fill in any gaps left by the books. Avoid leaving gaps as this can cause damage when the books move about and jostle out of place.
  • If there’s a small gap at the top of the box, crumple packing paper and pack it in.
  • Place a layer of packing paper on the top of the box when you’re done, close down the flaps and firmly secure them shut with ample packing tape.
  • Label your box properly, whether it is to go in the library or the living room, or a storage space until that perfect bookshelf arrives.

Try to assess the number of books you have to pack and the number of boxes allotted for the same. If it seems like there’s one book too many, you simply haven’t gotten rid of enough. If you’re worried about your books, look into purchasing boxes made specially for packing books.


Packing Books For Moving Using Suitcases

Most people tend to forget that there’s tons of space around us we can utilize. This helps greatly save up on packing supplies in the long run of the move. You’re bound to be taking your suitcases along with you, so why not use them?

The wheels of the suitcases, along with the retractable handles, make for great packing options for books. They tend to get surprisingly heavy once packed into boxes, but with the help of the suitcases can easily be hauled around.

  • Keep aside your heaviest books to be packed into suitcases. Make sure to only use suitcases with wheels; the whole idea is to make use of the easy maneuverability. 
  • Lay them flat, one on top of the other in the suitcase. Suitcases tend to have rounded edges, so make sure you use as much packing paper as is necessary to pack it firmly and ensure that there’s not a lot of empty space.
  • Use the belts of the suitcase to strap them in firmly, and use sheets and old towels as stuffing layers in case there’s gaps.
  • Zip the suitcase shut.

Apart from heavy books, suitcases are also great to transport jewelry and glass items. Keep this in mind for when you’re packing these items up.

Things To Avoid When Packing Books For Moving

Read up on the list of things to avoid when packing books so your precious volumes can stay as safe as possible in transit.

Don’t Use Big Boxes

Many people blindly opt for big boxes when packing books; after all, the bigger the box, the more books can get transported. This also saves you on expenses and buying several more boxes, right? However, stacked books can weigh a lot - and you would do well to not underestimate this. The larger the box, the tougher time you will have lifting it and transporting it. This becomes a huge inconvenience, one that can easily be avoided by just opting for smaller boxes. Though more in number, these are much easier to shift around once packed.

Avoid Using Newspaper As Alternate Packing Material

Newspaper works great as a packing material, particularly when crumpled to act as a shock absorber. But the ink on newspapers tends to rub off onto whatever else it comes into contact with, and worse, the stains are almost impossible to remove. Strictly avoid using newspapers when packing your books to retain the quality of your books and save them from ink stains. And as a general rule, avoid using newspapers when they come into direct contact with your belongings.


Additional Tips On How To Pack Books For Moving

Listing Books Down When Packing

We did suggest making a list of all your books when sorting them out, but this is an alternative that is just as effective. This is especially beneficial for people who will keep their books packed for a while. List the books down as you pack them into the boxes and stick the list firmly onto the box. This way, you know which box needs to be opened and which ones can stay packed for a little longer depending on the books inside.

Use An Appliance Dolly

Appliance dollies are L-shaped devices with 2 wheels, fastening belts and handlebars. Appliance dollies are meant to primarily move heavy appliances and as a result can take weights of up to 70 pounds. Simply stack two or three packed boxes, use the ledge mechanism of the dolly to get them up, and fasten them firmly in place with the belt. You can now easily wheel these heavy boxes to the truck or simply out of the way till packing day.

Turn to technology

Yes, parting with your books is a difficult task. But if you’re stuck in a downsizing situation, consider investing in a Kindle. It may take some getting used to, but at least you won’t be kept away from reading.

Bubble Wrap For Storage Books

You may be sending your books off to a storage space until a better time. In that case, just add an additional layer of saran wrap and packing paper over every book to protect it adequately. Finally, ensure you have the right movers to tackle every box and furniture piece, whether it's boxes of books or bookshelves. Professional packers can take care of every last thing, while DIY is also an option. Contact us for the best possible way to get the right movers.