Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shipping Books: Some Dog-Inspired Advice

Pack a book as if it's sentient.

Most of the books I pack are older books about members of the family Canidae, so I tend to use my dog brain and imagine that I'm settling an aging pooch into a safe and comfortable traveling case.

My point is this: If you're shipping books this holiday season, you probably want them to please their recipients. Getting carefully wrapped books to their destinations in pristine condition is part of the pleasure you're sending. So even if books aren't sentient, those who love them are. And book lovers notice and lament bumped corners and other rough-and-tumble wounds that books can sustain in transit.

Books travel best in boxes. "The book sits not on the bottom of the box but on resilient packing material: crumpled newspaper, packing pellets, layers of bubble wrap. As you look down into the carton at the wrapped book, can you see space (at least an inch, or three centimeters, is ideal) on all four sides? Once the book is resting on the packing material underneath it, it's time to tuck it in -- as you would tuck up a baby in its crib or a puppy in its basket, not with blankets or your old sweater but with crumpled newspaper or bubble wrap. When the box is closed, it should touch, not the wrapped book, but the packing material placed atop it."

After the carton is sealed, take another precaution. "Reinforce all carton edges with a heavy-duty sealing tape. Helping the carton keep its shape helps the book travel safely."

Tempted to ship in padded envelopes? Fine, but please take a few extra steps for the sake of those lovely books you've chosen. "Once the book is wrapped, cut cardboard slightly larger than the book... The cardboard must be clean and dry, thick and unbending. Place the book between the cardboard sheets, and secure them with tape... Now wrap the cardboard-secured book in another layer of wrapping, such as several sheets of newspaper. Try the envelope on for size, and if the wrapped book moves, take it out and wrap it again. Keep wrapping the cardboard-protected book until it fits snugly and does not move in the envelope."

When your parcels are ready to go, safeguard your shipping labels with clear, heavy-duty tape.

Gift suggestions at Dog Lovers Bookshop include our own guide to giving books good homes and long and happy lives: The Care and Feeding of Books: A Simple Repair Manual for Book Lovers, from which the quotations above are taken. The book is available in hardcover and paperback editions, and its authors, Dog Lovers Bookshop's owners, will be happy to inscribe copies with the personalized message of your choice. There are not only easy-to-follow instructions, but also some tales of the bookselling exploits of dachshunds Houdini and Rose. It was dogs, after all, who helped us learn how to take good care of books.

1 comment:

  1. It's a bad pun, but anyone who boxes well is an honorary dog...a boxer!