How to Post Books on a Budget: Our Top 3 Tips

A blog feature image showing a young Black woman packing books with the title '3 Eco-Friendly Tips for Posting Books on a Budget' over the top

While the e-book was (incorrectly) hailed as “the death of the paperback”, many readers still love to see a well-stocked bookshelf standing pride of place. There’s just something about a friendly discussion on your social media of choice about the ‘best’ way to present your love of books to everyone else.

Part of this is being able to share in the experience, especially if you’ve decided to ‘unhaul’ part of your collection and now you get to send those titles off to their new homes. But let’s be real, unhauling books usually means you’re three and a half seconds away from ordering that new edition with sprayed edges you’ve been drooling over for weeks.

In these situations, how can you post your books cheaply (and safely) to their next destinations? And what can publishers and online shops do to make sure they’re getting your purchase to you ASAP whilst still being sensitive to their eco-footprint?

These top tips for how to post books on a budget will work regardless of whether you’re posting a small paperback, large hardback, or even an encyclopaedia (remember those, fellow over 30s?) so let’s get started.


1. Use the Right Size Packaging

Have you ever received a parcel that was significantly larger than its contents? You eagerly open it up only to find your treasure buried deep beneath masses of bubble wrap or polystyrene nuggets. (Looking at you, ‘Zon!)

Those items are called void fill. When posting your books, they should be avoided as postage costs mainly depend on size and weight. Use packaging close to the book’s size; if you must use void fill because the book you want to post is an awkward size or you need to make sure those corners remain undented, use it sparingly.

Unfortunately, many individuals and businesses post a lot of nothing. Approximately 24% of what suppliers ship is space, with significant environmental effects equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of Belgium or Pakistan.

So how do you save money on postage and protect your precious cargo? Eco-friendly book wrap mailers are the answer. They’re adjustable and fit snugly around the book during transit without the need for excess packaging. They come in many sizes and are perfect for small or flat items, making them ideal for even several books.

If you’ve ever been sent a parcel from us here at Inspired Quill, you’re 50% likely to have received it in one of these mailers — especially if you were particularly wonderful and ordered more than one book!


2. Use Eco-Friendly Packaging

Sustainable or eco-friendly packaging is recyclable, non-toxic for people and the planet, and often made from recycled materials.

As good custodians of the planet who also want to save a little money on postage costs, eco-friendly packaging is preferable to synthetic packaging because it’s:

  • Non-toxic and biodegradable
  • Usually manufactured with clean, efficient production technology (bonus points for renewable energy manufacturing!)
  • Can be recycled or reused
  • Will minimise your carbon footprint
  • Doesn’t contain plastic, minimising plastic pollution.

Your packaging affects the volume and weight of what’s posted, so using lighter packaging materials like cardboard reduces costs while providing adequate protection for your books. For any booksellers or other publishers who might be reading this, shifting to sustainable packaging wherever possible will positively affect the environment, our communities and our health.

Are Eco-Friendly Boxes More Expensive?

The answer is (helpfully) ‘yes and no’. For folks who only need to post half a dozen books, you might find that ‘economies of scale’ don’t kick in and lower the overall cost of your packaging to a point where it’s comparable with the bubble-wrap bags you can get at your local Post Office. But do bear in mind that even regular over-the-counter cardboard mailer boxes are better for the environment if it’s between that and a plastic wallet!

A stack of carboard book mailers on a desk next to a computer mouse

Our ‘Know Your Own Darkness’ Pre-Orders went out in eco-friendly cardboard mailers!


3. Research the Most Cost-Effective Mail Services

Once you’ve packed your book in an appropriately-sized, eco-friendly mailer, it’s time to decide which postal service to use. Royal Mail is the cheapest option for small parcels under 1kg, which most books are unless it’s an anthology (or you want to, ahem, buy a whole series).

The service is typically reliable, and Royal Mail’s size and weight guide is a good resource that can help you post your books more efficiently, especially when used with packaging that minimises wasted space.

While first-class postage is undoubtedly one of the fastest services available, it’s more important to ensure your book gets to where it needs to be in one piece. Second-class postage is still relatively fast, but for extra-special deliveries (such as that sprayed edge or limited edition), you can also use “Tracked” or “Signed For” services.


Save Money Posting Your Book, and Do It Sustainably

While these tips may not save you a bucket load in one go, even if you save a small amount on each book you post, avid readers who regularly use postage services will save much more over time. And let’s face it, more savings = more money = more books (whether published, promoted or purchased). Everyone wins!

Plus, you’ll be doing your bit to protect the environment, opting for appropriate and sustainably crafted packaging that doesn’t need to arrive in a hurry.

Picture of publisher Sara-Jayne Slack

Sara-Jayne Slack

Sara-Jayne is a social entrepreneur, convention panelist, (very) amateur actress and lover of all things tea related.

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