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Book Boxes

Poll #1231032 Book packing

When moving, or otherwise transporting large numbers of books, do you care how they're packed?

No. What matters is they get there.
Yes. Book order (as determined by how they were arranged on shelves) is the most important book-packing criterion. Spare space can be filled with bubble wrap or styrofoam.
Yes. Book size is the most important book-packing criterion. Fitting them into boxes so they're safely packed is like a puzzle.
Yes, for another reason which will be explained in a comment.

I packed by size. I can always re-order on arrival. I care most that the jigsaw puzzle of books are securely packed and won't be harmed. Thus it was thought-provoking to read jandersoncoats's reaction to her movers packing her books out of order. I presume fjm and chilperic must have packed their books in order too. They had friends emptying boxes onto shelves as their shelves were installed.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
When I last moved, I packed by both genre and size. Large books in the art history section of my collection get packed separately from small books in the art history section. But art history gets kept together, and if the book is still significantly empty upon finishing it, I might fill space with shelf-adjacent books (which used to be, as I recall, Latin textbooks). Fiction would never be used to fill space in a box of nonfiction, and science nonfiction would never fill space in a medieval lit box.

An influence on the stringency of my packing methods was that more than half my books went into (and are still in) long-term non-NYC storage, and I needed to be precise about book contents in case I needed to track down specific resources afterward. I also needed to make the boxes stackable, so empty space had to be filled with (most easily) more books, not clothes or fragile bookshelf knicknacs.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
I went for book size, but preciousness is also important. My shiniest books tend to get wrapped in clothes and backed independently of the rest of my books amongst other soft things.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
I pack by weight!

I have several boxes from Chocolates To Go.com which are the perfect size for hardback books, but for larger boxes it's a few large books, a bunch of paperbacks and then light things light clothes, handbags etc on top so I can still lift the box (may years packing by myself means everything if driven by my upper body strength, even if people are helping moving I still need to be able to shift the boxes around once they're packed so I can get at other shelves etc).
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:26 pm (UTC)
I pack books by genre (they don't have an "order" even on the best of days in my study) and to make hauling them non-traumatic for the movers as a courtesy. I use 12x12 cube boxes and fill them about 3/4 up, then stuff in crumpled brown packing paper. Last time I moved there were 12 cubic feet of books, which is rather a lot in a small apartment, so every apartment I have has its own "system" of book storage depending on its idiosyncrasies.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
I pack mostly in order, for fiction (e.g. I will have boxes labeled things like "F&SF A-C" and "KidLit T-Z"). For nonfic I didn't previously have a fixed order on the shelves, so it was more by size although topics were more or less clumped, but now I have them spine-labeled with LC numbers, which would make it easy to reorder I suppose but OTOH if they're totally out of order, it's hard to shelve because you keep having to move things around. If they're packed pretty much in order, that problem is avoided.

I moved like 7 times in 9 years during and right after grad school, so I did an awful lot of book packing and unpacking...
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
I worked in used bookstores for years. I am down-right anal about getting books packed snugly and safely into boxes so that they will not move around and get damaged, or get their poor little spines crushed and broken, or suffer any of the other insults that poor packing can inflict on them.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
p.s. Of course, my personal library is suffiecntly large that I can often fill a box by size and *still* also have it contain entirely books belonging to a particular category within my collection. ;-)
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
oh, and back in the states at least, my boxes of choice for this endavour are usually gotten from bookstores like Borders. They always have boxes in a size well suited to packing books neatly but still having a box most people can lift. Funny that.

Having boxes of a uniform size makes stacking them a lot easier and tidier and more stable too. I actually have made moves where proabably a good 80-90% of *all* my belongings were in unformly sized reused boxes-from-Borders
(When obtaining them, it didn't hurt living with Borders employees, but even after that, if I asked they were always happy at the local Borders to let me have the boxes that day's shipment had arrived in to reuse)
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
(all my belongings that I even bothered to put in boxes that is )
Jul. 28th, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
... but our books on shelves are arranged by size. So both, really.
Jul. 28th, 2008 06:55 pm (UTC)
Our shelves get arranged by category: cookbooks, textbooks, novels, etc. Within those categories they're pretty much all the same size, so I never really considered packing by that. I mostly just want to make sure I know which box has the recipes I want to use on the first cooking-night in a new place, which one has the comfort-food fantasy I'm craving, and which one is full of physics that can just be chucked under the bed and unpacked in a year or so.
Jul. 28th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
The university library had just decamped into a brand new building. When we realised we had to place the lot in storage, I went and asked the librarians who had done their storage and move. Cadogan and Tate. So we called, and they came, and everything went into the boxes more or less in order and properly secured by packing materials.
Jul. 31st, 2008 11:20 am (UTC)
Re: Blush.
Ah! So you wouldn't normally end up with books quite so well organized based on previous moves. Rather decadent way to get them packed, really!
Aug. 1st, 2008 07:06 am (UTC)
Re: Blush.
Well, we did it the last time ourselves and what we did was fine, but the official movers went *down* the shelves. Took months to sort.
Jul. 28th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
Book size comes first, then book order. :-) I hate having to organize all over again while I unpack.
Jul. 28th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
My library is chaotic and tends to get reordered for space efficiency whenever I start getting low on shelf space. Packing books is no less chaotic :-)
Jul. 28th, 2008 08:26 pm (UTC)
Box size also very important when I pack books so weight does not get too silly.

Moving 1, 2 or 3 very heavy boxes is ok, but 10-15 of them just hurts and unnecessary. :S
Jul. 28th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
packing the books so that the box is still liftable by normal people at the end has to take priority.

I tried other methods that usually resulted in needing a forklift truck to somehow get to my bedroom. Unlikely.

So, usually something like half-books (usually which ever half shelf comes to hand first) and then lighter stuff on top like part of my extensive 'evening dress' wardrobe.
Jul. 28th, 2008 11:00 pm (UTC)
Yes, this.

I seem to remember from my maths degree that you can transform any ordering of books into any other ordering of books with enough applications of "swap book with one of its neighbours". It's not the most efficient sorting method though.
Jul. 28th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
I pack by size. But also, since I tend to pack slowly over the course of weeks, I pack by significance. Books I'm not currently using go first (esp. non-academic books, modern literature, etc). So my boxes often contain books that go next to each other on the shelf, but not always.

My favorite kind of boxes to use are the ones that reams of copy/print paper come in. They're large enough to fit a decent amount of books, but small enough to be able to lift when they're full (as long as I don't put all the hardcover books in one box).
Jul. 29th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
For me, it's not so much size (although that's important) as weight and type. I have (had) some huge books that were deceptively light, and some paperbacks that were deceptively heavy.

Then there's the fact that my back is complete rubbish. So I need padding in those boxes. (Even if you're not going to be hauling them around, there's managing them once they get at the location.)
Jul. 29th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)
I try to pack them puzzle-like in boxes, but that's less about book safety than about fitting as many books as I can into a box. Also, books are kind of ... everywhere ... in my house, so book order is nonexistent, and packing them all up in a specific way is very unlikely to happen.

(Well, that's not completely true. Now that I have some new bookshelves, my books are organized, although not ordered--they're in topic-based sections for nonfiction and I'm putting them into author-based sections in fiction.)

That said, "special" books (Kugel's Traditions of the Bible, my Bible collection, the beat-up copies of Romeo and Juliet and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, etc.) usually get packed in a special way--either in a carefully-cushioned backpack or a carefully cushioned box marked "important books" or something.
Jul. 29th, 2008 09:43 am (UTC)
I tend to pack in order, i.e., shelf by shelf, but more importantly, I pack by weight. So I will start at one end of the shelves, and only pack as many as can be carried comfortably.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
I generally pack partially by genre and partially by size; the important bit being able to lift them.
So, fiction generally fits nicely into shoe boxes (A.Christie, H.Lofting etc), but then some have to go in "fiction outsize".
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )