Anyone who has ever owned books knows the frustration of a bent cover, a ripped page, or a smushed book jacket.

Chances are you’ve also known the pain of trying to avoid all that damage while moving your books from one house to the next.

All those bents pages, heavy trips to and from the truck, and the chaos of keeping everything protected- there’s got to be a better way when moving yourself vs. hiring movers.

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You’re right: there is a better way. It’s using our step-by-step guide for both local Ottawa moving and long-distance moving on the best way to pack books for moving.

1. Streamline Your Collection

First thing’s first: do you really need all these books?

It can be tempting to hold onto every book in your collection, but curating a good library means knowing when to let some stories go.

Go through your books and decide which ones you’ll take with you and which ones you’ll leave behind. Start early, and take your time: you don’t want to rush your decision.

What to Do With the Books You Aren’t Taking

Once you’ve gone through and decided which books will be finding a new home, you have several options.

  • You could have a yard sale to help declutter before your move (season and weather permitting). Yard sales are a great way to earn a little extra pre-move money, and get rid of a lot of the things you aren’t taking to your new home.
  • Invite your friends over for a little book party. Let them go through the pile of books you aren’t taking and see if they want any for their own collections. The great thing about this is that the books are ‘still in the family’, and your friends will hopefully be nice enough to let you borrow a book back once in awhile.
  • Donate your books. This is an excellent way to make sure your books find great new homes.

Where Can I Donate Books?

You can donate books at the following places in Ottawa:

  • The Ottawa Public Library – if you have two small boxes or less of books, you can drop them off at any Ottawa Public Library branch. You can also drop them off at Friends of the Public Library Association (FOPLA) bookstores. For larger donations, you’ll have to make an appointment with FOPLA at their distribution centre. See details here >
  • St. Joe’s Women’s Centre – the centre has a wish list of donation items on their website which includes children’s books, novels, and non-fiction books. See details here >
  • Saint Vincent de Paul – this Ottawa-based charity operates multiple thrift stores in the city, and is always looking for book donations. See details here >

2. Pack Your Books Early

Books take a long time to pack, mainly because it involves multiple quality boxes, careful placement, and the occasional reading break. This is not one of those things you can leave to the last minute.

When coming up with your packing plan, expert Barrhaven moving companies recommend making your books a top priority. You may have to deal with a small pile of boxes for a little while, but at least they’re done.

3. Group Your Books By Size

Next, it’s time to decide which books are going to be traveling together to your new home.

The more books you own, the more you’ll notice how many different sizes they come in. It adds some nice visual interest to your shelf, but it’s a pain when you’re playing packing Tetris.

That’s why Kanata moving companies recommend first organizing your books by size. By bunching them all together before you start packing, you’ll have a much better idea of how everything is going to fit.

4. Use Small Boxes That Will Keep the Weight Low

One book is easy to carry. 30-50 books? Not so much.

No matter how many books you have, they’re going to be heavy to move.

The best way to pack books for moving is to use small boxes that will keep the weight below 40 lbs. This will make your books easier – and safer – to move.

Make Sure Boxes Are Strong, Well-Sealed, and Lined with Packing Paper

The boxes you get should be made of thick cardboard, and very strong on the sides and corners. While our Pontiac moving experts love to reuse boxes where we can, you don’t want to use a book box that looks like it’s seen better days.

When you’ve made certain the box will be strong enough for books, add extra tape to the bottom where the seam is formed. This adds some extra sealing power, and protects your books from any liquid or dirt.

Finally, line all your book boxes with a couple layers of packing paper or newsprint. This adds a bit of extra cushioning and it’s just one more way to protect your books.

Where Do I Get Small Boxes?

There are a few ways to obtain the boxes you need.

  • You can get them from us. As Barrhaven’s trusted moving company, we sell a variety of boxes, including a box that is 2 cubic feet – perfect for books, and delivered right to your door, making this the most convenient option.
  • Ask local stores. Any store that has things shipped to them will have boxes for at least a day or two after the shipment arrives. Who knows – even your local bookstore may have exactly what you need.
  • Check at work. Your boss or coworkers may have received deliveries or supplies, and the boxes could be sitting unused in a spare closet.
  • Reach out on social media community groups. Facebook is filled with local groups, and you can reach out on them asking for gently used moving supplies. Chances are someone has moved recently and still has a stash of boxes.

5. Use Your Rolling Suitcases

We often think of our rolling suitcases as clothes-holders covered in old airport tags – but did you know they make great vessels for transporting books?

They’re sturdy, have lots of space, and come with wheels for easy transportation to and from the moving truck.

We know: it’s almost sounds too good to be true.

But it’s not! Just make sure to use the following tips for both suitcases and boxes, and you’ll be rolling in no time.

6. Pack Your Books By Weight

Some books are heavier than others. We’re looking at you, 800-page hardcover novel.

You’ve already organized your books by size: now it’s time to pack them by weight.

Put heavy books on the bottom, medium-weight books in the middle, and light books on top.

This will prevent your more delicate books from getting crushed.

7. Use a Mix of Packing Positions

There are three safe ways to pack your books:

  • Flat, on their backs: this is ideal for stacking, particularly if all the books are the same size and fit nicely in the box.
  • Standing up: this refers to the position books are in on shelves. Spines should be facing the walls of the boxes if you pack this way.
  • Spines down: packing your books with the spine against the bottom ensures that your pages are less likely to be damaged.

We recommend using a mixture of these packing positions to get the most out of your boxes.

8. Fill Any Gaps with Packing Materials

As nicely rectangular as books are, there’s often space left over in the box. When that happens, you want to fill any gaps with packing materials.

You could even use your own clothes to fill in the gaps – this is a great way to reduce waste and pack a few more things at the same time. Plus, clothing materials are soft, flexible, but durable, perfect for the job.

9. Secure the Boxes With Double Layers of Tape

Like you did with the bottom of the box, you should secure the top of your box with extra layers of tape. A well-sealed box (or suitcase) is the best way to pack books for moving.

10. Label, Label, Label

You’ve taken amazing care of your books so far during this process. But there’s one more thing you absolutely have to do – add labels.

You should label not only what’s in the box, but which end is which and the fragility of the content.

For example: ‘Books, This End Up.’ If they’re very old or valuable books, you could add the word ‘fragile’.

Consider adding arrows and weight warnings on the sides of the box as well.

These labels will alert anyone picking up and moving your boxes, and they’ll be handled accordingly.

11. Keep One or Two Books Out for Yourself

Depending on the distance of your move, or how early you pack your books, you may want to keep a book or two out for your own enjoyment. These can easily be added to your moving day survival kit.

12. When You Arrive in Your New Home: Unpack the Books Early

When you get to your new home (yay!), one of the first things you’ll want to do is set up the shelves and unpack all those books.

This may seem counterintuitive – aren’t there more important things to unpack? Like the coffee maker?

It’s not that your books are more or less important – it’s that unpacking them will empty a lot of boxes and give you more space for everything else.

What If My Books Have to Stay in Storage?

If your books have to stay in storage for a while, that’s okay! All the packing tips you followed will keep your books safe – as long as where you’re storing them is clean, dry, and preferably temperature controlled.

We have a state-of-the-art storage facility, and shipping containers that can stay at your home. Whether it’s for a few days or a few months, we’ve got options.

Now that you know how to pack your books, what about everything else? Good news – here’s our packing tips for moving guide to help you get organized.

We’ll Get Your Books Safely to Your Final Destination

One of the biggest problems book lovers have when they move is just the sheer effort of relocating their library. That’s where we come in.

No matter how many books you have, our expert Stittsville movers can handle them. Our team at Cassidy’s Moving & Storage in Ottawa is experienced, careful and professional. We’ll take care of all your belongings, and deliver them safely to your new home.

Need movers? Get a no obligation quote today.