How should I ship two vinyl LPs?
March 21, 2005 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I just bought two records as a birthday present for a friend, and I realize that I have no idea how to ship them. The post office doesn't seem to sell anything appropriate, and I asked at Amoeba Records and they didn't know either (they said they typically ship only in large numbers). Does anyone know of a better solution than a 14x14x14 box filled with packing peanuts?
posted by symbebekos to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
That seems like your only bet unless you want them snapped/chipped.

You could also try wrapping them in 4 or 6 inches of bubble wrap - then layering the bubble wrap in newspaper - then sandwiching the entire thing between two hard pieces of cardboard. To pull it all together, you can wrap it in brown craft paper and then send it out.
posted by tozturk at 12:14 PM on March 21, 2005

If you don't put them in a box, you should definitely put in some other much more rigid flat material, like a sheet of metal, so that it isn't possible to bend the records to snapping.

Personally, I'd go for the box method, if I were you. You could probably get media-rate postage even though it's packed in a large box.
posted by odinsdream at 12:23 PM on March 21, 2005

Ah, a box question. I knew that if I waited long enough, somebody would ask something related to my life-work.

From what I recall of the misty past, when I received records in the mail from the Columbia House record club, they were shipped in one-piece folders (a particular style of box) with little or no added padding. I'm not sure if that would still be possible now when records are a less-common thing to ship via mail.

Still, if I were in the same position, I would look for a one-piece folder or a variable-depth folder of appropriate size (probably 12-1/2 x 12-1/2 x 1). A quick glance through a stock box catalog shows that these are still readily available, though if you purchase them from a box company, they're probably going to want you to purchase at least a bundle (of 25 or 50).

Your best bet is to find a store that specializes in shipping stuff: The Packaging Store; Mailboxes, Etc.; Postal Annex; etc. They'll sell you just one box at a non-exorbitant price, and they may actually have the size you need.

If you're feeling industrious, and if you have a ready source of corrugated cardboard, you could make your own box. It's not difficult. You need a blueprint, of course, but I'd be happy to e-mail one to you, if you need.

Ah, the life of a boxman...

On preview: I'm not sure that it's necessary to go to all the extra effort to protect the records with bubble wrap or a rigid pad. Shipping record albums via mail was once common place, and I don't recall that they shipped with any particular extra re-inforcement.
posted by jdroth at 12:30 PM on March 21, 2005

Bags Unlimited has LP mailer boxes, set of 10 for $16.80.

If that seems too expensive (like it does to me), try a few record stores other than Amoeba, which calls itself "one of those 'destination location' stores" and seems to pride itself on not doing mail order because it's "very expensive and labor intensive". Whatever. Tell it to Powell's Books.

Any good record store almost certainly gets vinyl in small amounts as well as large, and should have an appropriately sized used box for you to snag if you offer a buck or two.
posted by mediareport at 12:31 PM on March 21, 2005

Oh, try a store that specifically caters to DJ/electronica fans.
posted by mediareport at 12:32 PM on March 21, 2005

Wow, you guys! Thanks so much. By the way, jdroth, I think you should feel good about what you do: I've moved so many times and shipped so many things (besides records) that I've come to really appreciate the finer points of boxes and shipping materials. It's really a whole little world of its own.
posted by symbebekos at 12:41 PM on March 21, 2005

Pizzerias have big piles of "LP mailers", too. They'll usually give up a box or two as a favour. Pack as suggested at the bottom of this article.
posted by mendel at 12:42 PM on March 21, 2005

Many eBay sellers use (clean, unused) pizza boxes with bubble wrap and/or styrofoam
posted by winston at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2005

You could see if a pizza place will sell you a single box
posted by winston at 1:15 PM on March 21, 2005

If you are in SF, you should ask at Aquarius. They still have a fair amount of vinyl, and they do a lot of mailorder, so they must know the secrets.
posted by babar at 6:05 PM on March 21, 2005

Why not fill the space with a bunch of cool, cheap things? Any foodstuffs native to your area that you'd love to share? Some t-shirts? Copies of a local independent newspaper? I'm all for 'where does the gift end and the packing material begin?' surprise boxes.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 8:25 PM on March 21, 2005

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