You mean these are all boxes of *books*?
November 11, 2011 2:48 AM   Subscribe

I have, literally, tons of books. I need to move them from the Netherlands to the UK. Help!

The problem: a personal library of ~8000 books, weighing... I don't know exactly how much, but certainly more than a Ford Transit or similar can handle. Let's say 4t. In a few days' time, they'll all be sitting in boxes in a storage facility here in NL, along with everything else I own. I think (I hope!) the whole lot's going to fit comfortably into the 27 cubic metres of storage I'm renting, with the books forming one dense little corner, or possibly half.

I'd like to move the things over to the UK in two loads, taking the furniture and non-book stuff first, and bringing the books separately once the shelves have been put together. It's a small house I'm moving to, with no shuffle room. Friends are happy to help me move the first load, using the ferry or the Channel Tunnel. Because of the weight of the books, though, I thought it'd be wiser to find a company that would ship them for me.


All the international movers I've found through Google (think they) care only about volume - and I know from bitter experience that you can tell such a mover "150 boxes of books" till you're blue in the face and still have them turn up with a van rated for 750kg. Moving over here in the first place was a trial of patience whose crowning glory was the doorstep extortion of a large three-figure sum (on top of the four-figure sum I'd been quoted and had paid).

Previous questions along these lines seem to involve much smaller quantities of books, and also moves within the continental US - answers like "U-Haul" and "Amtrak" don't help me much, unfortunately.

Anyone done anything like this, especially in northwest Europe, or know anything more generally about moving heavy loads around? Any suggestions?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Could the Dutch postal system help? Maybe an e-mail to their direct mail/corporate/large volume people?
posted by mdonley at 3:08 AM on November 11, 2011

Some firms send you the shipping container which you/they then fill and which they then transport, look for one of these?

Note a large/heavy shipment from the Netherlands to the UK stands a reasonable chance of being investigated for drugs by Customs.

I would ship anything valuable separately to carry with you or in the first shipment. Packing into more smaller boxes beats packing into fewer larger boxes, also stackable helps a lot. Beware the risk of water damage, you have no control over how or where they store your stuff, linng the boxes in plastic helps (but will really intrigue Customs).

I have the same problem on a much smaller scale and am idly thinking of making the reverse move.
posted by epo at 3:18 AM on November 11, 2011

Even a Luton van (about the biggest van you'd be able to hire) has a maximum payload of about 1600kg, so you're not going to move it by yourself without three or more trips.

Call a removal company directly, by phone. Pick a smaller company if you can - that way you'll speak to a real person who knows their vehicles and drivers, and will understand that you want to talk in terms of weight and not volume. This is one of those situations where a direct approach is far better than farting about with Google searches and contact forms.

But seriously, 8000 books? Assuming you can read one book per day, that's a whole book every single day for the next 21 years! And how many of those books will still be useful to you more than a decade from now? Because that's how long it'll be before you open most of them. Consider also the house you're moving to; 4T of books is a lot of stress to be placing on a building.

I only add all this because I tend towards hoarding behaviour myself, and moving house has always been difficult (in my case, I seem to collect mostly tools, although I probably have a ton or two of books as well). If I were in your position, I'd divide my books into three categories: books I absolutely need and will use in the next 12 months, books that I'm pretty sure I'm going to need sometime over the next two years, and books that I'm keeping 'just in case'. And then I'd sell off all the books in the third pile, which in my case would be about 3/4 of my books. And after the initial panic I know I'd feel better for having culled my hoard.

posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:32 AM on November 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: based on my quick calculations and a google search the average weight of a book is about 300 -400g so you'd definately have about 3 tonnes or so.

This website suggests that a LWB Transit Van or a Luton Van could carry it in two to three trips

or they offer this 7.5 Tonne truck with a payload of 3000 - 3500 kg.
posted by mary8nne at 4:02 AM on November 11, 2011

Some firms send you the shipping container which you/they then fill and which they then transport, look for one of these?

I was going to suggest this. A family member used this service for transporting a bunch of stuff from the UAE to Ireland.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:03 AM on November 11, 2011

If you ship there is a very good chance that you will have problems with damp and our experience moving stuff from the US to the UK was that your stuff can end up sitting at the port storage for a long time just because.
posted by srboisvert at 5:11 AM on November 11, 2011

Best answer: Do you speak Dutch? If not so (well), let someone who does help you handle this. Burly guy probably better than college girl (sorry, but that's how it still works).

Go to a local, venerable (possible example, but I don't know these guys specifically) moving firm that advertizes international moves, after asking around a bit about people's experiences.

Do not merely explain the situation, but state your estimation in numbers of boxes, books, and tons, as accurately as you can, and don't make the impression that you're making those figures up. Ask them to come and look at what you've got. Good professional movers are usually quite interested in the amount of books and other heavy stuff, because it's their backs that will go south. The good ones come anyway and look at your things as a matter of routine.

Make them give you a written quote. Proceed with an order.
posted by Namlit at 5:33 AM on November 11, 2011

Yes, get them to come around and look at all your stuff, and get a written offer/quote.

Of course, they may charge more based on weight, than on volume. But if they know what they are doing, this will be fairer both for you (you get your stuff moved without hassle) and for them (they get paid a fair rate for the work).
posted by carter at 5:41 AM on November 11, 2011

Talk to DHL about getting a container, or part of one.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:06 AM on November 11, 2011

Memail me. I have a reliable Dutch freight forwarder helping me to move from NYC back to NL. My name won't mean anything to them, but I can tell you what does.
posted by digitalprimate at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone.

I know, I know, it's a silly quantity of books to be hauling about the place. It made sense when I thought I'd be staying put in the concrete-floored bungalow I'd bought in England, but then life surprised me, so now I have the accoutrements of a settled life, only without the settled life. Battle plans, first encounter with the enemy, 20-20 hindsight, etc. (I do cull, just not as aggressively as some (most?) would; there are various complicating factors at play. I also use e-books, but those have their issues too.)

I hadn't really considered the possibility of Customs taking an interest in stuff being moved within the EU, but the different drug laws could pose a problem, now you say it, epo. I didn't think to line the first 80 boxes with plastic, and previous disastrous storage experience means I'm all too well aware that shipping containers can be susceptible to damp, so I'm leaning towards the professionals-with-a-lorry solution, or, failing that, renting a 7.5t truck. The company Namlit found looks promising, and I'm sure one of my Dutch friends will be happy to help me talk to them. (I can read Dutch well enough, but speaking... doesn't go so well.) Another day or two and all the books will be in boxes, which should make estimating volume and weight easy - I've been packing by size and weighing sample boxes.

digitalprimate, you have MeMail.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:21 AM on November 12, 2011

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