Packing and Sending a Box of Books Overseas (to the UK)

The Finnish Language Lot finally sold, to an international buyer, and I’ve packed the books up for delivery. This article explains packing books to weather the international trip, and learn a little bit about Media Mail (formerly known as Book Rate).

My main worry was that the box would get wet at either end of the shipping system, damaging the contents. They were already a bit damaged from storage, and I didn’t want more damage from the shipping.

The box I found was acceptable. Books need strong boxes, but reinforcement with tape should suffice.

The first item in the box was a big, flat book. I put it into an Ebay branded padded mailer.  That encased it in plastic, and also turned the whole thing into padding for the bottom of the package.

The next items were also flat. They were newsletters.  I put them into magazine bags, and then taped the bags up to seal the contents.

Note that you cannot send advertisements through Media Mail, so the magazines need to be ad-free.

On top of the large, flat items, I started to stack the books, with the largest at the bottom.

Each book was placed into a Ziploc bag, the was air pushed out as best I could, and then sealed.

Then, I added padding around the edges.  The box is going to be shoved around a bit, and I didn’t want the corners to get damaged. Also, anything piercing the cardboard could damage the book, so some bubble wrap could protect against some piercing.

I folded the padding material over the top, and then added bubble packing material to fill the empty space.

I taped the packing material down, gently, to keep it from shifting around too easily.  Then, I closed the box. There was enough packing material to require a little squeezing.

Lastly, I sealed up all the box edges.  Used boxes are weaker than new boxes, and the extra tape can help keep things stable.

I taped the mailing label onto the box – making sure that cutting open the box wouldn’t also cut the label.

Also, make sure not to tape over the barcode. I accidentally taped over the top half, but I think it’ll be okay.  There’s a video at the bottom showing how the packages are scanned, and you can see why it’s important to keep the barcode “matte”.

I also taped up all the other parts of the label, to avoid having it wear off.

The postal inspector may cut open Media Mail boxes, to make sure that you’re not trying to send something else in the package.  If you are violating the rules, they will charge you for the regular Parcel Select Ground rate.

Here’s the video that demonstrates why you need to keep that barcode untaped.

Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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