USPS trucks 1500 crop

how to pack a record for shipping

I STARTED SELLING RECORDS again after a lengthy hiatus. Need­less to say, I had to pur­chase some sup­plies for ship­ping those records. Need­less to say, I used Amazon. Every day there are sev­eral reg­ular sources on Amazon for boxes, mailing pads, etc., along with in­di­vid­uals of­fering one-time deals. (But I will add right here that Amazon is not the cheapest way to buy these products—the closer you get to the man­u­fac­turer the lower your per-unit price will be.)

For my first pur­chases, I used Fin­gerPop. The boxes and pads they sent me were ex­actly as de­scribed, they ar­rived on time, etc. So I gave them a pos­i­tive re­view on Amazon.

Some­time later, I re­ceived an email from Amazon An­swers re­questing that I help a fellow cus­tomer with ques­tions re­garding Fin­ger­Pop’s boxes. This is the ques­tion: “Is the depth some­what vari­able? or does ship­ping a single LP re­quire a lot of padding?”

 

The cost of the ship­ping sup­plies here (box, pads, and tape) should come to about a dollar per ship­ment, if you buy the sup­plies in bulk.

 

Here is my an­swer, based on more than thirty years of ship­ping records around the world:

“It is best to add a sheet of card­board as padding to each side. It will not af­fect the cost of ship­ping but will USUALLY en­sure that the LP makes it in the con­di­tion that you shipped it. Use wide packing tape and en­sure that all the open­ings in the box are sealed shut.

Be­fore boxing, place the album in a plastic outer sleeve, which can be pur­chased on­line. Your cus­tomer will be both pleased with the pack­aging and im­pressed with your han­dling of the order, which will make it more likely that he will buy from you again.” 1

I sent my an­swer off to Amazon and wished the fellow cus­tomer good luck. Then I reread what I had written and de­cided that it could have been a bit more de­tailed. Which led to this thought: “Why not write an ar­ticle about how to pack a record for Rather Rare Records?”

And so I have.

 

Who HappyJack m 600

Watching old Se­in­feld episodes while so­cially dis­tancing your­self from everyone and every­thing during the Great Flu of 20-ought-20, you are in­trigued by Kramer and New­man’s idea to make some money selling old records. But in­stead of Sergio Mendes and Sinatra, you score a col­lec­tion of ’60s rock al­bums. If you’re going to ad­ver­tise them on the in­ternet, you need to know the best way to ship them, and that’s what this ar­ticle is about!

Packing an LP for shipping

Follow these in­struc­tions and any record that you ship will usu­ally ar­rive in the same con­di­tion that you shipped it! This should make your cus­tomer feel con­fi­dent in your abil­i­ties as a seller, and such con­fi­dence can pro­duce re­peat busi­ness!

For these in­struc­tions, I will use a typ­ical vinyl LP (ap­prox­i­mately 12½ x 12½ inches, or 32 cm) as my ex­ample. So you will need the fol­lowing:

 •  one (1) roll of clear plastic packing tape;

 •  one (1) LP record album mailing box;

 •  one (1) clear plastic LP outer sleeve;

 •  one (1) paper inner sleeve (if they are not in­cluded in the album);

 •  two (2) LP mailing pads; and

 •  one (1) LP of your choice.

Just in the off-chance that some­thing in the list above is not un­der­stood by a reader, let me de­fine my terms. These terms are not in any par­tic­ular order of class, phylum, or kingdom; they are listed as I thought of them.

 

LP album paper innersleeves 600

Inner sleeves

Inner sleeves are the paper sleeves that hold the record in­side the jacket. Inner sleeves pro­tect the record when it slides in and out of the jacket. Record al­bums have been is­sued with inner sleeves since the 1950s. Many record com­pa­nies used the inner sleeve to ad­ver­tise their cat­alog or print other types of in­for­ma­tion on one or both sides.

Some­times, inner sleeves are lost or dam­aged and need to be re­placed. The most common inner sleeve is a plain white paper sleeve that is a tad smaller than an LP jacket (ap­prox­i­mately 12¼ x 12¼ inches, or 31 cm). There are vari­a­tions on these sleeves:

•  They can have square cor­ners or rounded cor­ners;

•  They can have a die-cut hole or window on both sides or be solid on both sides.

•  They can have plastic in­sides for fur­ther pro­tec­tion of the vinyl.

Also, the quality and den­sity of the paper varies and there are sleeves for valu­able records that are con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive than plain paper sleeves. 2

 

LP album plastic outersleeves 600

Outer sleeves

Outer sleeves are clear plastic sleeves used to hold and cover the en­tire album, and pro­tect the jacket from wear and tear. They are made of a va­riety of plastic-like ma­te­rials and are slightly larger than an LP jacket (ap­prox­i­mately 12¾ x 12¾ inches, or 32 cm).

These sleeves can be of varying thick­ness and even clarity: some are clear (above) while others are tinted. Here is how some of these sleeves are ad­ver­tised on Amazon:

•  Heavy-duty 3-mil thick!

•  We use virgin 1st quality poly­eth­ylene on all our sleeves!

•  12¾” x 12½” (323.85 mm x 317.5 mm)!

•  Flush cut at top (no flap)!

Al­most any of these outer sleeves will suf­fice to pro­tect the album, but some are better at making the album look more attractive—not a bad thing to con­sider when selling any product. These sleeves will hold single al­bums and most double al­bums.

 

PackingTape 600

Packing tape

Packing tape is clear plastic tape ap­prox­i­mately 2 inches (or 5 cm) wide. This is NOT to be con­fused with duct tape, which can be used for mailing pack­ages via the US Mail but looks rather ugly and un­pro­fes­sional. Plus it’s more ex­pen­sive!

Avoid buying cheap tape: it can be nigh on im­pos­sible to find the leading edge of the tape to pull it up from the roll. Meaning that you may find your­self breaking fin­ger­nails, or messing around with knives trying to get a piece of tape! Buy good tape! 3a/b

A simple, ‘dis­pos­able’ dis­penser such as this above will work and can be pur­chased for a few dol­lars. If you only need to pack and ship a few items, this is the af­ford­able way to go.

 

LPmailer white 500

Mailing box or mailer

Mailing box or mailer is usu­ally a white cor­ru­gated card­board box slightly larger than an LP (ap­prox­i­mately 12½ x 12½ inches, or 32 cm). They are al­most uni­ver­sally sold with vari­able depth flaps: that is, the four flaps have sev­eral per­fo­rated lines that can be folded so that ei­ther one or sev­eral al­bums can be tightly pack­aged.

Note the scored fold-lines on the open flap above. Here is how these boxes are ad­ver­tised on Amazon:

•  All fold lines are per­fo­rated to pro­duce sharp straight edges!

•  Made 12½” by 12½” to allow enough room for padding for 12″ or 10″ records!

•  Multi-depth with 2 per­fo­rated fold lines to allow for folding a ½” thick box or a 1″ thick box!

•  Made from 200 lb. test cor­ru­gated card­board with 32 lb. edge crush test!

Most of these boxes are man­u­fac­tured by a couple of com­pa­nies and are es­sen­tially iden­tical. Check the In­ternet out be­fore buying, but if you buy in lots of 100 boxes, the cost will be about 40¢ per box.

There are su­pe­rior boxes that are stur­dier and lighter in weight but cost more. They will be cov­ered in a sep­a­rate ar­ticle. 4

 

LP mailingpads 500

Mailing pads

Mailing pads are sheets of cor­ru­gated card­board and are ap­prox­i­mately 12¼ x 12¼ inches (or 31 cm). They are used in­side the mailing box as extra pro­tec­tion for the album. These pads may be white or brown.

Most sellers get away with using just one pad per box, but two are rec­om­mended here. Cor­ru­gated card­board pads have what is called ‘fluting’ on the in­side:

 

Shipping_fluting

There are var­ious types of fluting with a dif­ferent strengths and pur­poses. When packing a record with two pads, ro­tate one pad 90 de­grees from the other, that way there is extra strength as the dif­ferent di­rec­tion of the fluting of the two pads re­in­force one an­other.

Packing a record for shipment

Here are simple in­struc­tions for packing a record album for ship­ping, one step at a time. This is the way that I pack the records that I ship.

1. Re­move the record from the album jacket. Make sure that the record is in a pro­tec­tive inner sleeve—if the orig­inal com­pany sleeve has been lost or dam­aged, put the record in a re­place­ment inner sleeve.

2. Keeping the record out of the jacket, place the two the jacket and the record in a plastic outer sleeve. I usu­ally place the record next to the back cover of the jacket.

3. Place a mailing pad into the bottom of the mailing box, and then place the album on top of the pad. Next place a second pad on top of the album, and you should have a ‘sand­wich’ in­side the box con­sisting of:

•  a pad
•  the album (jacket and record)
•  a pad

4. Fold the open flaps of the box shut (using the cor­rect depth), and then place a strip of packing tape length­wise over the seam made by the two closed flaps along the bottom of the mailing box. The tape should ex­tend be­yond the sides and onto the front so that it can be se­curely fixed to the box. This way, the two back flaps are held se­curely in place.

5. Place a second strip of tape on top of the first, dou­bling the pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity of the seam on the bottom of the box.

6. Wrap a strip of packing tape around all four sides of the box; you will use at least fifty inches (50” or 127 cm) of tape to do this. I do not center the tape on the edges, but allow most of the tape for the bottom of the box. That way, when folded over, the tape covers the per­fo­rated lines on the bottom flaps, sealing them off from mois­ture.

You are now ready to stick an ad­dress label on the front of the box or write the ad­dress onto the front of the box, and take it to the post of­fice for de­livery!

 

USPS trucks 1200 copy

FEATURED IMAGE: Guess what the photo at the top of this page is all about. Un­less a cus­tomer re­quests and pays for faster ship­ping, most records are shipped by the United States Post Of­fice via Media Mail (the modern ver­sion of 4th Class Mail.)

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   I sent this ar­ticle out to a few friends with ex­pe­ri­ence in buying and selling in the mail. Each made sev­eral cor­rec­tions or sug­ges­tions. Frank Daniels pointed out a boner in the mes­sage that I gave Amazon An­swers: “In the first para­graph, I would re­place ALWAYS with USUALLY.” I did. Frank con­tinued: “I have bought LPs that were stepped on and ap­par­ently jammed into a corner—bending the whole package and ut­terly ru­ining it. No amount of cardboard—short of a large box full of bubblewrap—would have pre­vented that!”

2   There are “au­dio­phile” inner sleeves made of more pro­tec­tive ma­te­rials than paper, such as rice paper. Again, these are more costly.

3a   “Nigh is an old-fashioned word that can be used as an ad­jec­tive or ad­verb to mean near or nearly. Some­thing that is ‘nigh im­pos­sible’ will be very dif­fi­cult to ac­com­plish. As an ad­jec­tive, nigh is an older form of the word near, both of which are rooted in the Old Eng­lish word neah. It’s most common to use nigh today when you’re trying to sound po­etic or ref­er­encing the ar­chaic uses of the word.” (Vocabulary.com)

3b   Scotch brand shipping/packaging tape is the best, but the most ex­pen­sive. I buy it at Sta­ples when they have it on sale—one of their BG sales. I usu­ally buy 6- or 8-packs by the case! Both Sta­ples and Home Depot make their own tape and while it is sig­nif­i­cantly less ex­pen­sive, it is less re­li­able.

But be­ware of most off-brands: I have thrown rolls of tape away be­cause it is damn near im­pos­sible to find the leading edge and peel it back to un­roll the piece of tape that I need. The tape that is avail­able at most US Post Of­fices is a must to avoid!

4   I will do a follow-up ar­ticle on al­ter­na­tive (meaning better built and more costly) mailing boxes in the fu­ture. You might want to have some on hand when ship­ping a valu­able record …

 

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great ar­ticle neal, i might add the reason for leaving the record out­side the cover. these pack­ages some­times get tossed around and when they do the record being heavier than the cover will some­times split the cover in­side the package. i also use this “record out of cover” to store my lps.

Might as well make de­livery per­fect.