Getting books from Japan to Canada
October 1, 2004 6:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm moving from Tokyo to Toronto in a few weeks, and I have about 100 books (many of them hardcover) that I'd like to bring home. I can't really take all of these with me, since when boxed they're almost impossible to lift. Anyone have a suggestion on a cheap way of getting them home?
posted by LukeyBoy to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
the normal way is to ship them. you might want to pack them in plastic in case they get wet, but we had no problems uk to chile (although we shipped much more - not just more books, but a a pile of other stuff too; your problem might be that you have too little for anyone to bother taking at a reasonable price).

you need to pack them in boxes, measure the volume, and find a shippig company that will handle them. then they will sit in a warehouse until there's space free in a container, get put in the container and on a boat. you'll wait maybe a month, maybe three. then finally a van will arrive outside your house in canada...

ps check import regulations. you may need to pay tax on their value when they arrive.
posted by andrew cooke at 6:42 PM on October 1, 2004

I second andrew cooke on this one. The only way to get stuff of that volume anywhere without spending a fortune is to send it sea mail. When I moved to Japan from the States, I brought all my summer stuff with me, and simultaneously shipped all my winter stuff by sea mail. It got here about 3 months later, just in time for it to get really cold. And as he said, the box will be in the bottom of some boat for a long time, so put everything in very watertight bags and such.
posted by donkeymon at 9:12 PM on October 1, 2004

Sell them all on eBay, and when you get to Canada, buy them all back on eBay. For extra safety, do it the other way round.
posted by seanyboy at 2:43 AM on October 2, 2004

In the USA, there's an international book-rate class of mail called an "M bag" (your box goes straight into a mail bag tagged with a big M). When I lived in Japan, I was unable to ascertain whether the Japanese PO will let you send M bags, but it seems likely that if they'll receive and deliver them (they will) that they'll send them.

When I moved back from Japan, I sent all my stuff sea mail. It was expensive.
posted by adamrice at 6:26 AM on October 2, 2004

M bags, if the Japanese post will let you use them, are indeed an inexpensive way of sending books long distance--but be prepared to wait for them a long, long time. (My own experience, both sending books via M bag and receiving them, has been about six months.)
posted by thomas j wise at 6:57 AM on October 2, 2004

What adamrice said. But be prepared to have books lost and damaged. We sent 5 bags of books from Prague to Toronto: 4 arrived, and several were quite beaten-up. It only took a couple of months, though. :-\
posted by stonerose at 9:56 PM on October 2, 2004

Thanks for the answers. I'll be shippin' em out I guess, though stonerose' comment about damaged books makes me preemptively cry.
posted by LukeyBoy at 10:27 PM on October 2, 2004

Assuming you are flying back and don't have too much luggage, consider carrying some of the heavier or more precious ones with you on the flight as excess baggage. When I moved back from Eastern Europe I did this, bringing a trunk with me that was full of bedding, tools and books. There was an overage fee [which will vary by airline] but it was good to have all my books and tools with me when I got home. In any case, make sure you pack right up to the weight limit with your carry-on and checked baggage since you're already paying for that luggage in the price of your ticket. Mailing more light weight stuff is cheaper and likely faster.
posted by jessamyn at 1:09 PM on October 3, 2004

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