How to: Pack Books (Banned Books Week!)

This week is banned books week which means some of our favorite sites are hosting discussions about books, reading and material that would get a book banned. Did you know that Roald Dahl made the list of books banned by governments? Yeah, like James and the Giant Peach or Matilda author. Captain Underpants is the most challenged book in America which I think is just ridiculous.

With the opportunity to stay topical, I’ve outlined for you the best way to pack books for moving or storage. Books are fairly forgiving things. You can drop one while reading in the tub and while the pages will wrinkle you can still dry it out and finish reading. But your books were an investment and there’s a reason they are still hanging out on your shelves. Take a little bit of care and they arrive at the next destination like nothing even happened. Expect for the grunt work needed. There’s always that.

  1. Always work with small boxes when packing books. You can purchase clean, dry small moving boxes specifically for this reason. Books are heavy and the pounds add up quickly. So for safety reasons, do not pack more than you can lift.
  2. I recommend when assembling your boxes you use two to three pieces of tape across the bottom of the box to secure that open seam for the weight.
  3. You’ll want your boxes to be snugly filled so nothing shifts in transport.
  4. Banking that books are fairly forgiving, there’s only one real rule to packing any book. Never pack a book with the paper edge down and the spine up. Your book will get damaged or warped in transport. You’re going to want to pack your books like this since it will make it convenient to unpack but don’t. Just don’t.
  5. Small moving boxes can typically hold two layers of hardcover or potentially three layers of paperback.
  6. If there is any additional room in a moving box, fill the voids with crumbled packing paper or bubble wrap.
  7. Remember to close with tape and label properly.

If your bookshelves are already organized by size/type (hardcover, paperback, valuable), Yay for you, you’re ahead of the curve. If your shelves are not organized that way, I recommend packing similar sized / type books together.

Packing Hardcover or Paperback Books options:

  1. Hardcover books can be packed upright, like they are on the bookshelf, with the spine against the box wall.
  2. Hardcover and paperbacks can be stacked with the spine down.
  3. Books can also be stacked flat. Just make sure you’re placing the largest books on the bottom and smaller books on top.


You’ll want to pack valuable books in any of the three options above but with extra care taken for valuable books.

Valuable Books:

  1. Wrap each book individually in packing paper. This also works well for hardcover books that have slipcovers you don’t want damaged.
  2. Optional step is to place a layer of cardboard between books to keep their spines straight.


If placing the books in storage, make sure they are kept dry. You’ll also want to consider getting archival / acid free paper for the valuable books.

You can typically fill a small moving box (16” x 10” x 10” or .9 cubic feet) with approximately 35 paperback or 25 hardcover books. My estimates are simply estimates. How many you are able to pack will depend on the book size and your packing method. Good luck and remember to lift with your legs.


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