Let’s Talk About Shipping

Josie Leavitt -- October 2nd, 2013

Okay, I need to vent about shipping for just a moment. I get countless boxes a day and for the most part the books arrive packaged the way they should and there are few damages. And then there are the packages that make me wonder what’s going on in shipping departments.

photo-25There is a new phenomenon happening where tiny things, books, or puzzles are shipped in very large boxes surrounded by those pillow packs of air. This sort of packaging takes up a lot of space, in a box and in the store. And, after a confirmation call to my local solid waste department — they cannot be recycled. So, here’s an example of a poster being sent in a large box, surrounded by pillow packs of air. The photo-26irony here is, the poster is in its own hard cardboard tube that could easily have been shipped by itself. This sort of shipping decision makes me crazy. Not only is it wasteful, the packing material is so voluminous that it takes up half of my back room. I know I could find people who could use this material (and we do have a staffer, Darrilyn, who is amazing about finding homes for bubble wrap), but I don’t have the space to store it.

I wrote a blog post early on in my ShelfTalker time about hurting myself with a Baker and Taylor box. They had recently switched to a new box system that involved a lot of glue, very strong glue. Sadly, these boxes remain and they still can’t be recycled or reused easily because of the glue and the plastic wrap that’s permanently stuck to the bottom of the box. My heart sank the other day when I saw that a publisher had switched to this kind of box as well. The problem with this kind of box is they are very hard to break down and they don’t stack easily. I know this sounds like a minor problem, but when I get a six-box shipment and the boxes topple over the rest of the recycling because they can’t lay flat, it’s a problem. Okay, it’s a minor problem, but it’s still irritating.

One last vent and then I’m done, I promise. This has nothing to do with the packaging from publishers, but from the carriers themselves. Why are the boxes so dirty these days? I’m not sure what’s happening in the back of these trucks, but it’s so dusty that sometimes boxes that aren’t well sealed come in the store covered with a layer of grit and grime. And if I pick the box up the right way and use the “lift with your legs” method, my shirt gets dirty.

But, every day, a very large percentage of packages come unharmed, clean and ready to be put on the shelves, and let’s face it, any day where I get look at all the great books that come in is a pretty darned good day.