Packing can be such complicated process. It’s filled with so many questions like, “How did I acquire so many things?” or “Why didn’t I clean out my fridge after I spilled those meatloaf leftovers eight months ago?” Luckily for you, we’re here with some advice and tricks to help you pack some of the trickiest items: books. (You’re on your own with the fridge, sorry.)


You’d think packing books would be fairly straightforward. How hard can it be to stick a bunch of rectangular objects in a box, right? However, if you start your book packing process willy-nilly, you’ll end up with ripped dust jackets and damaged corners. While that might add character to your books, it makes for terrible resale value if you were planning to get those to Powell’s later.

If you are a seasoned Portlander or are just moving here from out of state and wanted to get a head start on blending in with the locals, you most likely have a fair amount of books. Keep in mind that when all stacked together, books tend to get very heavy, very quickly. A good rule of thumb is no more than thirty books to a box. Smaller, sturdier boxes with fewer books will help ensure the bottom of your box doesn’t suddenly fall out while also making it easier for your movers to load and unload into the truck.

If you are very attached to your books, an extra step you can take before starting to pack them up is to line your boxes with plastic. Butcher paper, and of course packing paper can work well for this step, but it’s best to avoid newspaper as the newsprint can rub off on your books.

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You might think that you’d need to lay your books down horizontally in your box to pack them snuggly, but with hardbacks, you can put them side by side like you would on a bookshelf, with the spines down and the pages facing up. Make sure to pack them tightly so that they’re protected, but no so tightly that they’re impossible to get out of the box once you’ve arrived at your new place. If you have some valuable hardcover books that you want to take special care with, feel free to wrap the books individually with packing paper prior to putting them in the box.


Paperbacks can be packed similarly to hardcovers following the same rules, but since paperbacks are softer, their pages are more prone to bending or tearing. Paperbacks can be stacked in your box horizontally too. This option works best when your books fill the width of the box completely as well as all the way to the top. This prevents the books from sliding around in transit. If you need to fill a gap in your box, feel free to put some books in vertically, just remember the spines down, pages up tip. If there’s space left over at the top, wadded up paper works well too.

Finally, if the thought of your books possibly being harmed in your packing process makes your heart drop, consider using our professional packing services. With 29 years of experience, we’ve got you–and your books–covered.

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