How To Ship Books: The Ultimate Guide to Shipping Books

Wondering about how to ship a book? Whether you’re a self-published author looking for the most efficient and cost-effective option to distribute your work, or, you’re looking to for the best way to mail a book to a friend – you’ve come to the right place.

Over 768 million printed books were sold in the U.S. in 2023, if these numbers suggest anything – it’s that printed books are just as popular as ever, and people are interested in learning about the best way to ship books all over the country to reach the hands of readers. 

From selecting the right packaging materials to navigating carrier options and pricing, this comprehensive guide will walk you through the entire process of how to ship books. In turn, you’ll be able to minimize damages, streamline operations, and ultimately delight readers with a seamless delivery experience.

And if you’re an author or publisher looking for a convenient and cost-effective option to ship books to your audience, consider working with Print Bind Ship. We have over 60 years of experience working in the book industry – from printing books, binding, to book fulfillment – we do it all. Get in touch for a free quote!

Packaging For Book Shipping

Before a reader can crack open your book, it has to make its way through the shipping process. The first step of that process is to ensure that your book is packaged in a way that will keep it free of bent corners or water stains. 

Shipping Supplies

Preparing supplies to ship a book doesn’t require that you have fancy machines or special products. Most of what you’ll need is likely already available to you, such as: 

  • The books (if these aren’t ready, abandon ship!)
  • Scissors
  • Packing tape
  • Stapler
  • Clear plastic bags or bubble wrap
  • Corrugated cardboard roll, packing peanuts, or other packing materials

Once you’ve gotten these together, you can start the shipping process.

How to Ship Books in 6 Steps

Here’s a simple breakdown of the process for how to ship books.

1. Gather Your Packaging Materials

It’s best to use a sturdy cardboard box that is slightly larger than the books you are shipping. For shipping single books, you can opt for a poly mailer or a reinforced paper envelope. Wrap each individual book snugly in bubble wrap or plastic to prevent scratches, scuffs, and moisture damage during transit. Gather packing materials such as packing paper, air pillows, or peanuts to provide cushioning and fill empty spaces inside the package.

2. Package Each Book Securely

Place the wrapped books snugly inside the box or poly mailer of your choice. Fill any remaining empty spaces with your packing materials to prevent the books from shifting or moving around during shipping. If you’re shipping multiple books in one package, pack them tightly together or use cardboard dividers to separate them. Once the books are in place, seal the box securely with packing tape, taping down any openings, flaps, or seams.

3. Label and Address the Package

Clearly print the shipping address and your return address on the outside of the package. If you have been provided with a shipping label by the carrier, affix it to the package as instructed. If you are sending the package via USPS Media Mail rate, make sure to mark “MEDIA MAIL” on the outside of the package. Add any other required labels such as “FRAGILE” or up/down arrows to indicate proper package orientation.

4. Choose Your Shipping Service

Consider the different shipping service options available to you. USPS Media Mail is an affordable option for shipping books, but it can take up to 2-8 days for delivery. USPS Priority Mail or First-Class Mail services are faster but more expensive. Private carriers like UPS or FedEx offer expedited shipping services for an added cost. Compare the rates, expected delivery times, and consider adding tracking or insurance if needed, especially for valuable shipments.

5. Consider Additional Steps If You’re Shipping Internationally

If you’re shipping books internationally, verify that there are no customs restrictions or regulations for the destination country that could prohibit or delay the shipment. Fill out any required customs declaration forms accurately, stating the contents and value of the package. Use international shipping services offered by carriers, and be aware that international shipments may experience longer transit times. Additionally, the recipient may be responsible for paying duties or taxes upon delivery, so make sure to look into this possibility.

6. Complete the Shipping Process

If needed, schedule a package pickup with your chosen shipping carrier. Attach the shipping label and any other required forms securely to the package. Obtain tracking information from the carrier and provide it to the customer if they would like to monitor the shipment’s progress. Follow up after the expected delivery date to ensure the package was successfully delivered to the recipient.

Book Shipping with USPS

When we think of shipping a book, we often think of USPS book shipping. Below is an overview of the various services from USPS and a quick guide to how each one works. 

Understanding USPS Media Mail Shipping

The U.S. Postal Service created Media Mail as an economical way to send media items, such as books, films, CDs, and printed music. It is often referred to as their “book rate” mailing option. 

Media Mail is just one choice among many when it comes to USPS. It is usually the cheapest, but may not be the quickest. So depending on your budget and time constraints, you may want to consider another option. 

You can learn more about USPS Media Mail with Print Bind Ship’s Guide here and you can also browse our guide to the best shipping options for small businesses. In the meantime, take a look at some of your options when it comes to shipping books.

USPS Priority Mail

This option gives you a choice between using flat-rate boxes or shipping a book based on weight and dimensions. Your delivery will arrive within a day or two, making it one of the quickest choices.

USPS Flat Rate

USPS offers flat-rate boxes and envelopes in three varying sizes. If you have larger orders to fulfill, none of the flat-rate envelopes or boxes will cut it. 

USPS Media Mail

This option is budget-friendly whether you have to ship one book or 100 books. The downside is that it could take up to 10 days for your items to arrive. There is a 70-pound limit per box, so keep this in mind, as well.

USPS Parcel Post

Parcel Post is best utilized for something that is slightly too large or heavy for standard mail. It’s sort of an in-between of Priority Mail and standard delivery, which is reflected in its price. 

UPS Ground

If USPS isn’t your thing, you can always use a private company like UPS ground shipping. They fulfill deliveries within 1-5 days and are usually reliable. 


If you sell your books on Amazon, you can also use the shipping services through the Amazon Marketplace. All you have to do is ship your books to Amazon once and they’ll take it from there. However, Amazon’s FBA services tack on hidden fees, so you might want to check out some FBA alternatives.

What’s the Cheapest Way to Mail Books?

To find the cheapest way to mail books, your best option is typically USPS Media Mail which has discounted rates for shipping bound printed matter. Compare current Media Mail rates against other carriers like FedEx and UPS Ground to find the lowest cost based on your package’s weight and distance. You can also save money by packaging books as efficiently as possible without excess box size or weight.

If you’re an author or publisher, you may also want to explore options that bundle book fulfillment and book shipments. This can be done through a 3PL, which may be able to offer considerable savings opportunities.

Using A 3PL For Book Shipping

As a self-published author, if you find yourself running to the nearest post office or UPS store every time you make a sale, know that there is another way. It’s called third-party logistics, or 3PL. In short, you can have a company, like Print Bind Ship, do all of the printing, binding, packing, and shipping for you. 

Benefits of a 3PL Book Fulfillment & Shipping Partner

As an author, partnering with a 3PL company means that your book fulfillment can be streamlined into one nice, neat package that gets shipped out for you! 

Here are the beneficial services a 3PL like Print Bind Ship can offer you.

Printing and Binding Services

Once your story is complete and you’re ready to share it with the world, Print Bind Ship can print and bind as many copies as you need. We have over 60 years in the industry and boast hundreds of success stories working with authors and publishers. Our printers are some of the most advanced in the industry and can deliver books in record turnaround times.

Plus, we can also print custom notebooks if you want a special place to write down ideas or promote your work. The possibilities are endless!

Custom Packaging

Printing doesn’t just have to happen on paper — it can happen on boxes and packages, too! With Print Bind Ship you can create custom packaging. Simply choose the style, size, and design of your boxes or packages, and we will bring them to life.

Domestic and International Book Shipping

Once everything is printed and ready to go, we will ship it for you, whether it’s down the street or across the globe. Having a 3PL partner for international fulfillment will save money in the long run and keep your customers satisfied. At Print Bind Ship, we can handle and manage eCommerce orders to ensure your books are mailed and delivered in record time.

Fulfillment Services

The best part of having a reliable 3PL partner is the flexibility and support that it gives you. Besides creating and shipping books, Print Bind Ship offers warehousing, on-demand printing, and can even help with marketing, all at cost-effective prices.

Choosing Print Bind Ship for Book Shipping and Fulfillment

At the end of the day, you could spend your time tracking your eCommerce platforms, wrapping up books, and making trips to the post office, or you can partner with a 3PL like Print Bind Ship. We will do the heavy lifting for you. 

When you choose us, we can print, ship, and store your books!

We can even help you monitor your inventory across eCommerce platforms to ensure your stock is always ready to go when an order comes in. We take the stress and confusion out of the question of how to ship books and let you get back to writing your next bestseller. 

What’s Next? Contact Print Bind Ship

Print Bind Ship has helped hundreds of authors to streamline their eCommerce sales so they can save time and money. For a free consultation, get in touch with Print Bind Ship by filling in our request a quote form and we’ll get back to you right away!


What is the best way to package books for shipping?

It’s recommended to use a sturdy cardboard box slightly larger than the books you’re shipping. Line the bottom of the box with cushioning material like bubble wrap or packing peanuts. Place the books in the box upright, and fill any empty spaces with more cushioning to prevent shifting during transit. Seal the box securely with packing tape.

How should I label the shipping box?

Make sure to clearly print the destination address on one of the largest sides of the box using a shipping label or permanent marker. Include your return address as well. Mark the box as “Books” or “Media Mail” if shipping via USPS.

Are there any restrictions on shipping books internationally?

Most countries allow books to be imported, but some have restrictions based on content. It’s wise to check the destination country’s customs regulations regarding prohibited topics like hate speech or extreme political/religious materials. You may also need to complete customs forms declaring the shipment contents and value.