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Moving? With a book collection? Good luck, because it’s a big task. Here’s how to get started.
 
1.Get rid of some books. Don’t worry, it gets easier after step 1. Here’s the thing about books: They’re wonderful. Wonderful and HEAVY. So, are there any books you can leave behind? Give them to friends, to book drives, to the library, to donation boxes, to the “take a cookbook, leave a cookbook” rack at the local kitchen goods store. Jane Eyre is free in ebook; you don’t need three hard copies. Be bold!
 
2.Get rid of your other stuff. You didn’t do step 1, did you? That’s fair. “I have two copies of Jacob’s Room,” I thought during my move. “Perhaps I don’t need both…or perhaps I should put them in separate boxes in case one gets damaged.”
 
You can compensate by getting rid of other stuff. Other stuff takes up a lot of space, and other stuff isn’t books. Think about what you actually use. Did you give up drinking coffee? No need to lug that coffee pot with you. Haven’t worn that sweater in the past year? Someone else needs it more than you do. Friends, free tables, donation boxes, Craigslist, and Freecycle are on your side.
 
3.Go to the liquor store. No, not to drown your sorrows. Here’s the deal: The nice people at the moving-supplies store are happy to sell you new, pretty cardboard boxes. And those boxes are really useful for other stuff that survived step 2. However, if you fill up one of those new, pretty cardboard boxes with books, you will feel very productive until you try to lift it up. Then you will feel like taking an aspirin.
 
Meanwhile, bottles of liquor are shipped in small, sturdy boxes that are built to support heavy glass bottles. Not only can these boxes also support books, you can completely fill one up and still lift it. So, go to the liquor store and ask nicely if they have any empty boxes you can take.
 
This also works at grocery stores, which also have larger, other-stuff-worthy boxes. Call ahead to find out when they crush them and if they’ll set some aside for you.
 
4.Put your books in boxes.
 
What to do: Reinforce the bottom of the box with packing tape. Stack your books in the center of the box, leaving any extra space around the edges. This will probably mean two stacks touching in the middle. Fill in the spaces with packing material, or in my case reused Christmas wrapping paper. Tape carefully.
 
What not to do: It’s okay to put a large book at the bottom and start stacks on top of it, but don’t let a book overlap both stacks. And don’t bend any books! It will not be fine! Just get another box!
 
Your precious books: The autographed ones, the incredible out-of-print finds, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, whatever is the most important to you. Consider wrapping these in bubble wrap or tissue paper. Avoid packing matte covers with newsprint, as it can smudge. (I speak from sad, sad experience.) Maybe tuck in a silica gel packet if it’s going to be a long or damp move.
 
Label the boxes. I’m a fan of the label-by-destination-room technique (“bedroom,” “kitchen,” etc.), especially if you’ve bribed friends into helping you and don’t want to admit that 80% of your possessions by volume have spines and heavy covers.
 
5.Get some extra shelving. Technically physics shouldn’t allow this, but somehow you will end up unpacking more books than you packed.
 
6. Unpack your books. Set up your shelves, grab a box cutter, and give yourself plenty of time to shelve, organize, reorganize, and get distracted reading snippets. Enjoy!