How to Pack Books for Moving (7 Tips to Pack Like a Pro)

How To Pack Books for Moving Like a Pro

Packing your books for a move can be tricky, because for many of us, our boxes of books will be the heaviest boxes we pack.

Overloading a box with books could possibly lead to an tweaked back trying to lift it or maybe a box so heavy you can’t lift it at all!

The trick to packing books for a move is use small boxes to ensure the weight of the box stays light. Experiment with different book alignments to utilize the space in the box and periodically check the weight of the box as you add books.

Your personal library of novels or cookbooks may be one of your most treasured belongings, so keep reading for more tips on packing your books for the move.

Table of Contents

7 Tips For Packing Your Books

Tip 1: Only pack the books you plan to keep

What’s the easiest way to lighten the load caused by a bunch of heavy books?

Don’t pack them at all!

In the rush to get everything packed for the movers, it can be tempting to pack up everything and figure out what to do with it upon arrival. However, this can be a huge waste of time and energy!

Instead, take an assessment of your set up at your new home and where you will place the books. Envision how much space you plan to designate for books.

Then evaluate each book in your collection to determine what you need to keep, toss, or donate.

Do you really still need your college chemistry book or that second copy of The Da Vinci Code that you somehow ended up with?

If you find yourself with a pile of books that are not moving to your new home, consider donating them or selling them. Libraries, schools, and neighborhood library boxes are always looking for good books.

When in doubt, you can always donate them to a local charity like a Salvation Army.

Check with your local bookstores to see if they have a book buyback program. There’s a chance you can earn some extra cash for your move.

Tip 2: Use Your Best Packing Materials

Packing Materials for Packing Books
Packing Materials for Books: Small Box, Packing Paper, Tape and a Marker.

We re-use our packing boxes all the time. In fact, I highly recommend it as a way to save money and be more eco-friendly.

However, when it comes to the box you want to use for your boxes, try to use a fresh crisp box.

Most people concern themselves with how much tape they put on the bottom of the packing box, but it’s actually much more likely that the box itself will rip causing your books to end up all over the driveway as opposed to the tape being an issue.

Once you’ve picked out a good box, here are the other packing materials you need to pack up your books.

  • Packing Box
  • Packing Paper
  • Tape
  • Marker

Once you’ve gathered all your supplies, let’s get to putting the books in the boxes.

Tip 3: Do not overpack books

Packing Books
Just because books can go in the box doesn’t always mean that they all should go in the box.

Do you remember high school textbooks? Specifically, do you remember having to carry around multiple books in your backpack. It got heavy, right?

Likewise, if you pack too many books in one box, it can be difficult to move. There is a lot to do when moving to a new home, so use these tips to avoid a back strain or a pulled muscle.

Pack books in rolling suitcases

This is my all-time favorite tip when it comes to packing books.

Moving your books on wheels is way easier than lifting heavy boxes – and you have to move the suitcases anyway so why not take full advantage of them?

How genius is that?!?

Use small boxes to pack books

This way there are only so many books that can fit into one box. This will help you keep the weight of each box to a reasonable limit. Think about who will be moving the boxes and the current and new locations and pack accordingly.

If you are moving from a 3rd floor apartment you want to reduce the weight of the boxes that will be carried up and down the stairs. Likewise, consider who will be moving the boxes and what is a reasonable weight they can lift and move.

Add lightweight items to book boxes

I sometimes pack boxes only half full with hard cover books and fill them the rest of the way with lightweight items, like office supplies or other office trinkets.

The books often provide a sturdy base so that the trinkets don’t move around as much. In addition, this allows me to use the space in the boxes but reduce the overall weight.

Use Packing Paper to Fill the Open Space

If you still end up with open space in your box, fill in the excess with packing paper.

Books shifting around in a box can do some damage (to the box itself or the thing the box lands on if they box shifts in the moving truck) if they have enough room to slide and build momentum.

PRO TIP: Make sure to use acid free packing paper. Some paper, like newspaper, can bleed it’s ink onto your books. No bueno!

If you have a lot of books to move, you may want to look into shipping your books separately to your new home. Depending on your situation it could end up being more convenient and even cheaper!

Tip 4: Organize books while packing

Organize Books Before Packing

When you arrive at your new home, you want the movers to put the boxes in the location where they will live. Even if the “movers” are you!

This will make it 10x easier to unpack! With that being said, pack cookbooks together so those boxes are placed in the kitchen, books from the office together, children’s books – you get the point.

You’re future self will thank you when you still have a house full of half-opened moving boxes at your new home and you need that one recipe from that one cookbook.

Tip 5: Label boxes

This goes hand in hand with tip number four.

I can’t stress enough how important labeling your boxes are! You want the movers (again, even if that’s just you) to know where to place the boxes. This alleviates you having to move boxes from room to room once you’re busy unpacking and settling into your new home.

Label each box with not only what’s in the box, but exactly what room it’s meant to go to. This is something we started doing after our first couple moves and it makes unloading a truck 100x easier!

Tips 6: Place the Books Box at the Bottom of the Stack

As you’re packing the moving truck, you’ll have to determine which boxes are going to go on the bottom of a stack of boxes, which go in the middle and which boxes need to be at the top.

Obviously, since books are going to be one of your heaviest and most sturdy boxes, they should go on the bottom.

The key is to make sure you have your ‘bottom boxes’, like book boxes, are easily accessible in your garage or where ever you’re storing all your boxes before the truck arrives.

Tip 7: Have fun

Enjoy the packing and unpacking experience! You can create great memories (and relive some old ones) when you’re packing up all your stuff. And you might even find your next book club read!

Final Thoughts

Books are one of the easiest items to pack when moving IF you stay very mindful of just how quickly a box of books can become too heavy.

Unlike more difficult to pack items like lamps, books are all a simple shape, easily stackable and not fragile. Just make sure not to fill a large box up with only books or you may end up with a box that only a strongman could carry.

Follow our tips and you’ll be curled up with a good book in your new home in no time!

Good Luck with your move!


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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