Packing and storing your books can require a bit of care. You may not be too concerned about minor damage to your mass market paperbacks, but old books or those with some value to you, such as the family bible or old diaries, require a bit more care. The following packing tips can help you prepare these books for storage and alleviate your concerns about damage.
Tip #1: Wrap in plastic
If you are concerned about humidity or moisture damaging the books, then it is possible to protect the volumes by placing them in a plastic storage bag. Make sure to choose bags made from inert plastics, like polyethylene food storage bags. These will not react with the paper or ink in the books to cause discoloration. Make sure the books are completely dry before encasing them in plastic, and press out all air from the bag before sealing it closed.
Tip #2: Use acid-free supplies
Packing papers and boxes are sufficient for most packaging of books for storage. Make sure the supplies are sold as acid-free, which means they don't contain any acidic chemicals that could react with the book ink or paper. This will cut down on stains, yellowing, and fading. If necessary, slip acid-free tissue into books where you are worried about ink transfer, such as on pages with hand-written notes. Then, wrap the books in packing paper before storing if you aren't using a plastic bag.
Tip #3: Load boxes appropriately
If you aren't sure whether the box is acid-free, make sure books are wrapped in paper or plastic, or that the box is lined with acid-free paper, before loading the books. Pack the books in a single layer with the spine down. This will keep the spine flat and prevent it from being bowed downward by the weight of the pages. Fill in the empty spaces in the box with crumpled up packing paper. You don't want the books to shift or sag inside the box. Finally, tape the box closed so dust and dirt can't get inside.
Tip #4: Consider storage conditions
Your final consideration is the storage conditions. Attics and basement are either too hot, too cold, or too damp for book storage. Instead, place them in a climate controlled storage unit that has low humidity and cool temperatures. Store the boxes off the ground, just in case there is any flooding or moisture seep into the unit.
Contact a storage facility or packing supply store for more help in storing your valuable books. Click here for info on packing supplies.