To Reuse or Not to Reuse, That is the Question
He said they stopped using plastic-lined mailer envelopes which are NOT recyclable by the customer. They are now using U-line's single face rolls of cohesive corrugated wrap which sticks to itself and not to the book - but, not for thick books. It does not provide enough stiffness for thin paperbacks but it handles everything else.
"We have found the wrap cost competitive with plastic lined envelopes. In our view, packaging materials should be both made from recycled materials and be recyclable by the customer."
A comment on bubble mailers; When I receive one, I open it up, roll it inside-out and tape it into a roll, then use it to pad books that are loose in a box.
David Prendergast of Stick Figure Books had a different take on the subject. "I don't personally subscribe to the recycling approach," he said, "I believe that the packaging that surrounds a book, starting with the covers and the dust jackets (if applicable) is an important part of the buyer's experience." He notes that he is trying to target or impress people who appreciate or respond to quality packaging. "Ultimately though, I believe that it's OUR values that largely drive this. I use new and better quality packaging because it's how I want to do things. I wouldn't enjoy packing books in re-used materials. For others, the savings and the social reward of recycling are much more important. There's clearly room for both approaches."
Howard Prouty from ReadInk in Los Angeles had a comment about targeting audiences. He felt that in doing so, one "…ascribed far more importance to who you might (or might not) be 'impressing' with a new-packaging-only approach, and to what degree." He reminds us that the "target audience" for all used and rare booksellers "is made up largely of people who actually do buy used and rare books, not new books from Barnes and Noble. Thus, they probably are not going to be seriously put off by the fact that the wrapping material in which their book arrives is not brand-spanking new." To him the important thing "…in EVERY instance is to package and send the book in such a manner that it will get to the customer undamaged."
Ezra Tishman of Aardvark Books in Eugene, Oregon notes; "I purchase one or two big bags of recycled peanuts each year from a local UPS store (you have to ask specifically for them) and every time we receive parcels with these included, we just add them to the barrel. Because I run a busy search service I have occasion to purchase from a great many dealers and can't help but notice how each dealer packages books. But recycle or not, most provide me with ample packaging materials which are reused as often as possible. Addresses on bubble bags are crossed out and used as inner bags. Bubble wrap that can be separated from its packing tape goes right back into boxes as extra protection. When we send out higher-end books, we often use new, lightly taped bubble mailers in combination with rolled corrugated cardboard called a- or b-fluting, inside proper cardboard boxes, with a small note attached: "Feel free to re-use these materials".
Rosemary Elder at Roses Are Read Books asked a question: "How would cohesive corrugated wrap compare to Multi D book folders for quality and ease of use?" I have not used either, so if any of you have information about that please send her a quick email on the subject at email@example.com.
James Bennett from Primary Source Books in Tacoma, Washington, re-uses packing materials as much as he can. "I prefer to use new materials for packing higher-end books, but employ used materials for the lower end, if they are clean, not tape-coated and, in the case of boxes, structurally sound."
Ogden and Peggy Williams own Pine Tree Books. She tells me; "We have been using recycled materials for our book packaging for a few years. In our town (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) we have a refuse/recycle center. People toss their cardboard boxes into trailers. I bring home clean boxes with little or no lettering of all different sizes. We put a sign up inside the "swap shop" in a designated area inviting people to drop off their peanuts and bubble wrap. It took a little time for this to take off but now residents are doing it regularly. We are delighted to be doing this and it also keeps our expenses down, which in turn allows us to give our customers a better rate."