This guide is intended for both buyers and sellers of books. I happen to be both. Why did I write this guide?
- I read another guide on shipping books that I found on eBay.
- I purchased some books on eBay.
My Packaging Policy
I'll start with me. Here is what I do when I sell and ship a book and why.
- I wrap all books individually in ink-free paper. This prevents any wear to the dust jacket during shipment for two reasons. It prevents the dust-jacket from scuffing and other wear and tear during shipping. It keeps the dust jacket in place on the book and eliminates all damage to the dust jacket; no crimping or tearing on the edges.
- I ship all books in a box. This prevents any damage to the book that will occur during shipping when one uses a padded envelope. I recently found a source for book boxes that will fit most standard books, approximately 9" by 6" (I know that is not the exact measurement of some books). This source also carries book boxes for non-standard book sizes.
The Other Review
I won't identify the other review or quote verbatim but the basic advise was to use padded envelopes and keep the cost down in order to be fair to the buyer. The person writing the other review must not be aware that book boxes bought in bulk may actually be less expensive than padded envelopes. I guarantee you books shipped in a box will arrive in better condition than those shipped in a padded envelope.
I don't care how careful the USPS or UPS is, a book shipped in a padded envelope will arrive in worse condition than when it left the seller. At best only the dust jacket will suffer minor crimping.
My Buying Experience
I started buying on-line from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. I have never recieved my books in anything other than a book box. In fact Amazon.com when shipping multiple books adds additional packing material to protect the dust jacket and prevent the books from shifting during shipment (so do I). I now shop eBay for my books before I look to Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble because eBay sellers almost always ship faster than either of the big guys.
Now the bad news. Most eBay sellers ship in padded envelopes. Maybe they have never bought a book on-line and received it with crimped edges, torn dust jackets or worse the actual book arrived with bumped edges and crimped corners.
Two recent experiences left me disappointed. The first was several paperback books that I bought from different sellers. One arrived with severly crimped covers, front and back. One had a tear on the cover. One was nearly bent in half. Sure, I could have returned the books and gotten my purchase price back. But the cost of the book was less than the S & H in both directions, so why bother.
My second example was more troublesome. In addition to being a seller of books I am also an avid reader and collector. For the books I collect I only buy First Editions and preferably First Printing. I expect them to arrive in like-new condition. I recently purchased a book whose author I have collected for years. I always buy First Edition, First Printing copies of his books and I expect them to be in mint condition. My book arrived in a padded envelope and you guessed it, the corners were slightly bent, the spine was bumped on the top and bottom. None of this was bad enough to cause me to return the book, just disappointing.
If you are buying books on-line check your sellers packaging policy! If they ship in padded envelopes and you can find the book elsewhere do so. If you are buying a collectible, expensive book you should insist on having the book individually wrapped in ink-free paper and shipped in a box. Sure you can insure the package. So what! If the book arrives damaged - you get your money back. But you didn't want the money...you wanted the book!
My Goal for This Guide
I hope the on-line sellers who read this will take notice and change their shipping and handling to the use of boxes and not padded envelopes. For all the buyers I hope you begin to see your books arrive in better condition than thay may have in the past. This will be a win-win guide and everyone will benefit.
Evidence of Why A Seller Should Not Ship A Book Except In A Book Box
Here is the evidence of why I would never ship a book in anything other than a box designed specifically for books. I bought a book on eBay and paid for Priority Mail Shipping. Here are pictures of the package as I received it...
This was the upper right front corner of the Priority Mail Envelope
This was the upper left front corner of the Priority Mail Envelope
This was the lower right front corner of the Priority Mail Envelope
This is the lower left front corner of the Priority Mail Envelope
This was the upper right rear corner (back side of the upper left front corner) of the Priority Mail Envelope
This was the lower right rear corner of the Priority Mail Envelope
I was lucky that the book was not damaged significantly. There was some corner and spine bumping and some scuffing to the dust jacket but not significant enough to return the book. However, had this been a rare book I would have been very upset with the seller. For about $.50 (fifty cents) this could have been avoided. That is the cost of a box specifically made for shipping books and they can be bought on eBay.
If you are a seller you may find these boxes on U-Line or a package supply company. It is the only way I ship books that I sell.
Please visit my About Me Page to learn more about us and review our excellent feedback.
Please visit my eBay store Buck Creek Books to see all of our items that are for sale and read more about shipping and grading books.
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Henry "Skip" Neff