How to Store Books

Person putting books into a box

Most people consider books to be pretty durable. After all, we carry them around in backpacks, read them at the park, and subject them to some heavy abuse. However, after being packed and stacked long-term, most people begin to realize that books aren’t as indestructible as they thought. If stored incorrectly, a book’s spine can warp, its pages can discolor, and its cover can disintegrate. 

If you have a large collection of books, the thought of them being ruined in storage may disturb you. So to ease your anxiety, below, we have actionable information on how to pack books correctly. Read on to learn how to store books like a pro, so they remain pristine no matter how long you store them. 

PRO TIP: Before storing all your books, remember you can also donate old books you don’t want. That way you can simultaneously make someone’s day and make room in your unit for the books you really love.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

What is the Most Efficient Way to Store Books?

If you’re storing books in a clean, dry home, the most efficient way to store them is on bookshelves. You’ll have access to them, they’ll be upright, and you’ll be able to enjoy your library fully. Plus, a library of books in your home is a comforting sight and adds joy to your life.

If you’re storing your book collection in a self storage unit, it’s a completely different situation. The most efficient way to store books in a storage unit is in book boxes, which are 1.5 cubic feet. The small size is key because a larger box would get so heavy it would be dangerous to lift. Even a small 1.5 cubic foot box will weigh between 70 and 80 pounds when filled with books. Once packed, stacking your book boxes is the most efficient way to store them.

Is it Better to Store Books Upright or Flat?

It’s always best to store books upright, not flat. The reason is that, when flat, you can badly damage the spine of a book. Also, hardcover books can warp if stored flat, especially during long-term storage. When packing your books, always pack them standing upright. Then be sure to stack the boxes facing up in storage so that all the books are upright while stored.

How Do you Store Books without Bookshelves?

When you store books, you need to take them off their bookshelf or bookcase and pack them into boxes. You can also pack them into plastic crates, although they won’t be as well protected. Stacking the boxes or crates in your storage unit is recommended, although we recommend that you not stack too high; no more than 4 book cartons high is recommended because books are extremely heavy. If you stack them too high, the weight can damage your book collection or the stack can topple.

Best Practices for Storing Books

Below are some best practices for storing books that experts recommend you follow. Doing so will keep your books in pristine condition while stored.

Use Cardboard Boxes Made for Books

Although not specialized, per se, cardboard boxes made for books are 1.5 cubic feet in size and made specifically for storing books. That’s a smaller box because books are very heavy. 

Use Plastic Containers to Prevent Moisture Problems

If you live where high humidity is a problem, storing your books in plastic containers might be better. Any plastic containers you choose should be small and have a tightly sealed lid.

Keep Book Boxes or Containers out of Direct Sunlight

The UV rays from direct sunlight are incredibly damaging to books. When stored, your book boxes or plastic containers should be kept in a dark, dry storage unit. 

Don’t Store a Book Collection in your Garage

If you have a valuable book collection, the last place you should store it is in your garage. Too many things like pests, chemicals, water, oil, and more, can spill and damage your book collection.

Leave Dust Jackets on your Books when Stored

There’s no need to remove the dust jackets from your books when you store them. In fact, leaving the dust jackets on will protect your books a little bit better.

Use Metal Shelf Units

Rather than stacking book cartons, which can damage your books, consider using metal shelf units. You don’t need to stack book cartons when using a metal shelf. The upside? You will distribute the weight of your books on the shelves, not on the books.

Keep your Storage Unit Organized

Organizing a storage unit isn’t difficult but does take some time and effort. A well-organized storage unit will allow you to store more books (and other items also).

Use Pallets on the Floor of your Storage Unit

To be extra safe, you can use clean wooden pallets on the floor of your storage unit. Then, stack the book boxes on the pallets. Pallets allow air circulation and keep your books boxes off the floor away from spills or pests.

Solve your Storage Needs with iStorage

If you’re storing books, you should definitely consider self storage. A temperature-controlled storage unit to protect your books from extreme temperature changes is even better. 

At iStorage, we offer safe, clean storage units in many different self storage locations. Our facilities are very secure, with 24/7 video cameras and electronic gates. Also, each has an on-site manager. If you need to store a book collection (or anything else), visit our main website to find a storage unit. Your items will be safe and secure with iStorage.