Ideas needed - interesting packaging for books
December 1, 2005 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Looking for interesting yet professional ways to package a hardback book which will be sent through the mail.

A friend has just written a business handbook on a specialist topic. The publisher is going to provide him with 200 complimentary copies: he wants to send these out to business leaders, CEOs etc. as a way of promoting his consultancy.

We're trying to think of interesting and innovative ways of packaging the book. At the moment, all we can come up with is a simple cardboard box. Do you know of any UK suppliers who can make a custom box to fit the book? Or is this a job that any printer could handle? Book details are as follows:
* Hardback
* 220 pages
* approx. 8 x 5 x 1 inches.

We're planning on including a personalised letter with it but any other ideas would be welcomed. The contents have an 'ethical' dimension, so ideas that have a minimum environmental impact would be fantastic. Also, since the books are going through the postal system, some degree of protection would be handy.

Just to be clear: this isn't packaging for the full print run - just for a couple of hundred copies which will be sent out as promotional 'gifts'.

Thanks in advance.
posted by blag to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've always thought that a white tuck-top box makes for a nice presentation. Somewhat simpler would be a book folder.

Getting a custom size for a small run would, I'm guessing, be prohibitively expensive. But you should be able to get a stock size that's pretty close.
posted by adamrice at 4:11 PM on December 1, 2005

I've seen at one time a colored metalic bubble-wrap envelope, that would be perfect for that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:22 PM on December 1, 2005

If you want ethical, re-use something that would otherwise be garbage. For example, framing shops throw out large quantities of foam core, which you could easily cut to size.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:34 PM on December 1, 2005

Cloth is always good. I once wrapped up several batches of stuff in canvas, tied it at the top with string (stuff was sealed up inside anyway, with addresses,) and attached an old fashioned luggage label with the address on, they all reached their destination intact. So don't completely write off the Royal Mail's capacity for wackiness tolerance.
posted by fire&wings at 4:39 PM on December 1, 2005

Does it have a dust cover? I would be especially concerned about that, since mangling the edges of it is exceptionally easy.
posted by smackfu at 4:46 PM on December 1, 2005

Heavy duty colored paper or cloth-covered slipcase. Can rubber stamp the cover on the outside, or tip it on, etc.
posted by luriete at 4:53 PM on December 1, 2005

Behold, ShirtBox!

The red is your personalised letter.
posted by holloway at 5:10 PM on December 1, 2005

Some publishers ship books in plain cardboard wrapped around the book to overlap, then sealed at each end. A bookstore could show you. You might be able to get cardboard or book mailers from bookstores to reuse. You can make a large detailed paper label and just use white glue to glue over the original label, with an honest 100% recycled packaging statement.
check this out
and you can get corrugated paper that sticks to itself, see CORRO-SEALĀ® ADHESIVE FACE
posted by theora55 at 5:15 PM on December 1, 2005

Some ideas,
Shipping the book with an inexensive bookmark/light in it already.

or opened and shrink wrapped to a acrylic book stand. (might take more foam peanuts to ship, but how cool would it look to unwrap the box and see an open book?)

I would think anything that would make the book dynamic and less bricklike would be useful.

My general thoughts are to try to make the book stand out from all the others they don't have time to read and that they leave on the shelf. (or worse, throw away)

If you want to play to their vanity, and make sure they read it, personally ask each of them to send suggestions for the second edition.
posted by Megafly at 5:49 PM on December 1, 2005

As someone who used to open packages containing books for a living--I worked for a book review--let me offer this:

1. CEOs, business leaders, etc., do not open their own mail; their assistants open it.

2. Those assistants prefer to receive packages that are easy to open. This means paper or cardboard envelopes with pull-tapes. Standard FedEx mailers are the gold standard. It DOES NOT mean impermenable tyvec envelopes or those terrible ones filled "macerated newsprint padding" aka asbestos papier mache of death.

3. Assistants throw away a lot of the stuff that comes addressed to their bosses, or just stick it at the bottom some pile. Giving an assistant a papercut is not the way his or her better side. They are also, often, jaded and world-weary, and not easily suckered in by gimmicks.

4. A paper envelope will protect your book through the mail just fine. Trust me, I have opened thousands and thousands of books.
posted by armchairsocialist at 6:10 PM on December 1, 2005

Crikey - didn't expect all these fantastic suggestions! Smackfu's point about dust covers is valid, and is the reason that I was hoping for a custom (or perfect-fit) box. Will try a few places and see if a short run isn't prohibitively expensive. theora55, that's a very good idea, especially if we can find 100% recycled board. Megafly - great suggestions, especially the comments one. And armchairsocialist - points taken. Will scratch my idea of an exploding box filled with knives, then...

Thanks to all who have answered so far. Keep 'em coming.
posted by blag at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2005

I ordered a book recently and it came packaged in a heavy green file folder. The file folder had been cut down and used as packaging. It was incredibly sturdy and the book arrived in pristine condition. I was also very amused by the packaging.
posted by digitalis at 6:45 PM on December 1, 2005

I have to disagree with armchairsocialist. I too have seen many mailed books (I work for a publisher) and paper envelopes + sharp book corners + the mail system often equal book disaster. Throw in some rain and you're sunk. I have no creative ideas, but I would warn against plain envelopes.
posted by dame at 7:27 PM on December 1, 2005

I review books, and the box never has any effect on me except negatively. I hate:

1) glitter or confetti in the box
2) enormous boxes and eight tons of padding for one tiny book
3) shrink-wrapped books that I have to cut out of their bondage

To be honest. my favorite are those thin cardboardy padded envelopes that you rip open with a red string like a big Band-Aid. Easy to open and I don't have to resort to tools.
posted by GaelFC at 10:44 PM on December 1, 2005

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