You can ship almost anything these days, to almost anywhere in the world. If you’re a rare book seller, specializing in valuable tomes and first editions, that means you can greatly expand your customer base and your business reach. But, there are more customer shipments out there than ever before, which means the potential for damage during shipping is higher than ever before, too. You’ll want to find ways to ensure you’re packing and shipping rare books right. Here’s 5 smart steps you can take to ensure your books get where they’re going without heartbreaking damage.

Remember: your goal is to keep the book from shifting around inside the container and damaging itself. If it has a book jacket, you want to prevent that from sliding around, as well. You can’t control what happens outside the box, but you can control what happens inside.

Wrap It

Sandwich the book in two chipboard sheets—this will provide strength and stability. Then use clean kraft paper or tissue paper to wrap up the book and protect it from minor cosmetic damage. Stay away from newspaper, as it’s extremely likely that its ink will rub off. If you’re sending the book to someone as a gift, wrapping paper would be an acceptable (and attractive) second layer.

If you’re sending the book to a customer and looking for a simple way to make your business look good—consider using custom tissue paper. Printed with your logo and a brand color or two, it’s sharp, memorable, and will make people more likely to buy from you again.

Pad It

Take kraft paper and wrap it around the book several times. Make sure to wrap in different directions—at least around the width of the book, and then around its length—to properly protect it from all angles. It’ll be much more likely to survive bumps or dings from any side, especially on its corners.

You can also use bubble cushion instead of kraft paper. It’s one of the best void fills out there and requires less material to add considerable padding. An added benefit of bubble cushion is that it will help repel moisture during shipping. That’s something to work into your packaging strategy if you know shipping rare books will potentially expose them to the elements.

Pack It

Use a brand new corrugated box whenever you can. They won’t be compromised from dents or exposure to moisture. We suggest you choose a box that doesn’t leave much in the way of empty space once sealed. A multi-depth box can be a smart choice for shipping rare books, as the scores allow you to cut the box down to the height you need. A cut-out wrap (COW) is an acceptable choice, provided you’re not expecting it to encounter any moisture.

If you’re looking to play it safe, a regular slotted carton (a standard corrugated box) is the way to go. Create a bed of padding to place your well-wrapped book onto, then cover and surround it with your void fill of choice.

Seal It

Grab some packing tape and close your container—use a tape dispenser to make quick work of it all. Make sure you cover all seams, and press down the tape to create a tight seal.

If you’re really looking to ramp up the protection, you can try the double boxing method. Find a larger box (but not too much larger!), and repeat what you did for the first box. Create a bed of padding, place in the first box, surround it with void fill, and seal it up tight.

Insure It

This is optional, but it’s a good step to take. Shipping rare books can be expensive, and you want to cover your losses in case the book gets damaged or goes missing. You’ve done all this work so far, don’t skimp out at the last moment.

Packing and shipping rare books takes a bit of planning and effort. There can be a lot of emotional or financial worth tied up in a book and you don’t want to sacrifice its looks or integrity. With these steps and recommended packaging supplies, your valuable tomes and volumes will ship out cleanly, properly and safely.