Sunday, 15 February 2015

A Rant On the Parceling of Books

In his extraordinarily kind review of Diplomatist Books, Gary Amos (ever the practical sort) makes the point of praising our packaging.

I come to bookselling as someone who has spent decades buying secondhand books through the post.  Like Gary, I'm a curmudgeonly Northerner and deplore the recent-ish tendency to send books out in thin cardboard envelopes or plastic bags.  Books (and postage) are expensive enough: I don't want to receive them in a damaged state!

There is no real need for it - once you're sending even a small book through the post you have almost certainly sent what the Post Office defines as a Small Parcel.  At that postal rate you can go up to 2kg, so can go to town on packaging.  The real culprits are the soulless sellers who think in terms of economies of scale and 'time spent' (and then have the cheek to charge a 'handling fee'!).  Yet Jiffy Bags and bubble-wrap are not expensive.
If you buy a book or books from me, the minimum packaging will be a Jiffy Bag (let's face it - they're convenient and designed to fit in the post box on the corner of the street).  If it's too big to go in a Jiffy Bag, then I will parcel it and take it to the Post Office counter or courier drop-off point.  That parcel may be in a box (which will contain packing material so the books don't rattle about) or it may be (sufficient!) bubble-wrap and brown paper.  All the seams will be sealed, it will have my return address on it and, if appropriate, will have a Customs declaration.
I can't guarantee that your postal handler won't damage the books but if any damage come to them before they arrive with you, get back to me.  If like me you have a dog who delights in waiting for the postman and destroying whatever is crammed through the letter-box, that is your problem to solve.

When he can't get post...
My favorite delivery of books was some years ago when I bought some maritime journals from a man who ran a Museum of Knots - they were in a heavy-duty carton which was wrapped in brown paper and then tied with tarred string.   The knotting was constructed in such a way as to provide a handle to carry the parcel and the knots untied so it could be kept and reused (I kept it for years though I never used it - it smelled wonderful!).

A last point, by popular demand I have added the 'Follower' widget to the blog layout.  I'm sorry not to have done this before, but blogger seem to have hidden it deeply among the extra gadgets (I suspect part of a ploy to get us using Google+ for everything).  But a fellow blogger has pointed it out, so, if you want to add Diplomatist Books to your blog-roll, it's now easier.


  1. Your done for now you've let the world and his wife add you to the blog rolls Edwin, thanks for adding it!

  2. My first order from Diplomatist Books arrived in a damaged and torn envelope. However, Edwin had carefully packaged the books in cardboard and bubble wrap and they were just fine. Your extra work made the difference, sir. Thanks so much.

    1. Glad to hear it! The outside wrapping was prob just some brown paper, but it's still disappointing to read it was torn.