**Always check the shipping requirements of any website you sell through to ensure you utilize their standards**
The safe packing of books is a crucial technical skill for successful sales. A good package performs three roles:
- It ensures that your books arrive safe and sound at your destination without damages.
- It presents your customers with an image of professionalism which leads to more positive reviews.
- It is as light as possible, keeping down shipping costs
I attempt to pick up packing materials as often as possible—I avoid paying for them by asking friends and family for used boxes and picking them up from the mail department of work—in fact, the purchase of boxes can be avoided all the times if you keep your eyes out.
You want to avoid using boxes from specific products (like shoes), using only relatively plain brown boxes. This adds to the professionalism of your product. You particularly want to avoid using un-reinforced cardboard—such as is used in cereal boxes.
If the website you are using provides a shipping list, make sure you print it off and include it within the box. Also include any company-specific materials you might have (such as book marks or thank-you notes). You may want to add a personal note—such as “Hope you enjoy the book! [You Name]”--so that your customer has a personal connection to you. This builds potential for return customers and your chances of having positive reviews.
However, when employing used boxes, it is important to carefully remove all labels with shipping labels, completely black out (using a sharpie) any shipping marks (“Media Mail,” “First Class” etc). If the box is damaged at all, but you still judge it as usable, you can reinforce its corners and edges with packing tape.
You should always choose the smallest box possible that will fit your book to keep down the weight. Inside the box, you will want to add packing material as tightly as possible. Avoid using newspaper on books that might be damaged by smudging ink.
If you sell textbooks (a topic I will go over in a future post), the rules are altered. As the textbook companies are paying the shipping bills and care not a wit about how the boxes look. I save my uglier boxes for this type of shipping and utilize the heavier newspaper as packing material.
When attaching your shipping labels, make sure they are easily readable, preferably printed. This not only gives a professional presentation, but also ensures that the Post Office's computers can read them. Most websites provide labels to print off. If you are using prepaid labels from the Post Office, using the packing tape around the edges but not over the bar codes as their sensors sometimes have difficulty reading them; however, for UPS or FedEx, the companies recommend covering the prepaid labels with packing tape.
Finally, if you have a fragile object, don't hesitate to write “Do Not Bend” or “Fragile” on the outside of the box to better protect your goods.
Best of luck!