Image by Issuu from a packaging dielines book
I thought I had it all figured out until a book I shipped was returned to me in such a sorry state that I started wondering if any of you guys who bought my books ever got them bent or misshapen or disfigured or warbled and wet and my face got red with horror. That's not good customer service. I use these Sealed Air Padded Mailers because they're recyclable and cheap and not ugly looking, but the thin orange paper was torn and the shoddy brown paper-filler was spilled into a kind of homemade crude tape job to hold it all together. The book was bumped on the corners and dusted all over with that brown muck and it made me cringe. "Jesus Christ," I thought, "I need to figure this one out."
As it happens, I'm running out of these mailers, have about 15 of them left, and so I got to researching alternative packaging options and neither of them are a perfect fit for me. Here are the ones I have considered:
This book seller has designed a clever method of wrapping the book in plastic wrap and then making his own package from one-ply corrugated cardboard that you can buy in rolls and staple to the size of your package. It's cheap, but it looks ugly and to open it you would have to cut it with a knife or pray your scissors are up for the job. (Not mentioning cutting through all the tape.)
There are these beautiful paperboard expandable Conformer mailers (custom stuff can be printed on them and I love the look of them and they come in white and I want my mailers to be white to conform to my brand colors) but they do not protect the book from moisture and from their site I can only buy the quantity of 1,000 and on Amazon the resellers charge much more, of course. Well, fuck.
I have found beautiful solutions to the sort of wrap-your-book-in-cardboard idea, but those companies are in UK or Australia (obviously) and anything I find in US, like this adjustable easy-fold book mailer by Aviditi, is the wrong size. The smallest package they have is 9-5/8 by 6-5/8 inches which is too large for my books, most of them in the 5.5 by 8.5 inches range (or smaller). So if I buy these, I will also need to buy some paper or some filler so the book doesn't slosh around when shipped.
What's left? Bubble mailers. Nice white bubble mailers are very enticing as they seem to protect the book from rain and snow and whatever and they cushion it and they are white! And they are cheap! Hallelujah! Only I hate it that they are not recyclable. I don't want to spend money on a product that will be thrown in trash and not disintegrate. And I hate putting my books inside a mailer like that as the corners catch on the bubbles and get bent. So it's a no-go.
I could exercise the rusty design part of my brain that's been dead from misuse for so many years and design some kind of my own solution. But no matter what I design, it will be a pain for you to open it as it won't have that nice and easy strip to pull and have the book fall out into your lap. The best packaging I love so far is that one by Apple. It's beautiful. I want packaging like that for my books. I have found this site of templates and this free ebook of templates to cut my own boxes out but that will involve creating a whole design station with all the tools and that will be expensive. I'm screwed, of course.
IS THERE NO CHEAP BEAUTIFUL SAFE STURDY EASY-TO-OPEN BOOK MAILING SOLUTION OUT THERE?
There must be. I'm sure I'm missing it. Hence my question to you. What do you use for mailing your books? Have you heard your readers complain? Did it arrive in a good condition? And, guys, those of you who bought my books, have my books so far arrived in a good condition? I wrap them in paper before I put them into padded paper envelopes, but I realize I should also wrap them in plastic wrap which I will do from now on.
Maybe I should just conjure up a flying elephant and feed him my neighbors (hey, it's free) and train him to fly me all over the world to deliver my books to you personally. Naked. Like some crazy Russian witch. I'm sure you'd love that. Seems like the best solution.