Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Art of Book Packaging

I opened the door recently to an apology from the postman and this:

Two large and heavy books, put together in a padded envelope that was slightly too big, had inevitably torn their own packaging. The postman had no need to apologise for it really wasn't Royal Mail's fault.

The books inside were both damaged. One had damage to the dust wrapper and both were bumped. Had the parcel torn any more they might not have made it here at all. Oh, and did I mention the poor books were first editions?

What makes me really sigh about this is that it is so unnecessary. Good packaging is cheap and light. Sensible packing makes sure the packaging, however cheap and light, fits tightly. If the packaging fits then even a padded envelope can do the job reasonably well. It was because the books could move that the envelope shown was torn. It was because they could move that the dust wrapper was rolled and rubbed. Additional padding inside would have prevented the bumping and the moving and all could so easily have been well.

Most ibooknet sellers use either boxes by Datec Packing of Coventry or Pussikeskus. We send tens of thousands of books a year between us, and both packing types have proved to be excellent. They work on a similar principle, after a bit of twiddling you end up with a cross shape, you place the book or books in the centre and then fold the packaging around the books tightly and seal. This way the packaging always fits the books. You can use bubble wrap as well if you prefer but the packaging in both cases is so strong that it is rarely necessary. Because any plastic element such as bubble wrap is separate from the card or cardboard element the main packaging can be easily recycled or composted.

There is nothing worse than anticipating a book's arrival through the post and being disappointed by shoddy packing, and it really isn't necessary.

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