Ship It: A Guide For Proper Packaging Of LP’s
New Order! So reads the email subject. You’ve landed your first order and now comes the real work of selling records: putting it into a box of some kind and mailing. Until there’s a magical hole in which buyers can reach through the internet and grab their records from your crates, you’ll need to entrust the postal service when shipping records. Things get broken, bent in half and stuck in machines. So how do you protect your record from the abuse it’s about to take on its mystical journey? Fortunately enough, steps can be taken and with a little effort, your customers will thank you and come back time and time again.
So suppose this fine fine record has sold to a very lucky buyer. The first thing you’re going to want to do is prep it for shipping. First, remove the record from it’s jacket:
That crumpled old sleeve might have been fine until it sold, but your customers will appreciate receiving their order with a fresh crisp sleeve. If the inner sleeve is a customer printed inner sleeve or original company inner sleeve, consider keeping them inside the jacket with other fragile paper inserts like lyrics sheets while the disc is outside the jacket in a new sleeve. Protective plastic sleeves are also a great finishing touch that will show your customer that you respect their purchase from you.
Pack the disc outside the jacket in the plastic sleeve. This will prevent seam-splits and help prevent the disc from getting scuffs by moving around during shipment.
At this point, I recommend purchasing new folding-type cardboard mailers. If you are considering using the UK style white envelope types, don’t. Even with stiffeners, in my experience they are frequently responsible for dinged corners and are generally too fragile for shipping records. The amount of headaches saved in the long term will be worth the extra investment.
Generally, once a mailer is used it shouldn’t be re-used again. They are designed to withstand one mailing and may no longer be structurally sound enough to withstand another performance. Recycling mailers not only makes you look cheap as a seller, but may expose the address of the last person to someone who shouldn’t need to know. Improvising mailers from recycled cardboard is generally frowned upon as well. We will not remove negative feedback if you ship a record in a used pizza box. I cannot stress this enough.
Now that you’re ready to package your record, let’s take a look at stiffeners:
I have used both types in the past: Cardboard and bubblewrap with equal success. Whichever type you use, sandwich your record between two pieces. The goal is to immobilize your record in the center of the package to prevent it from rattling around in the box and possibly get damaged. I have also used dollar bin freebies to service as stiffeners with great success in the past, though this may not be economical for international orders.
When using cardboard, you can add added sturdiness by placing the stiffener against the grain of the cardboard mailer. Every bit counts.
Fold your box up and tape it shut. I recommend making multiple passes around the center and sealing up the sides as well.
Finally, write FRAGILE – VINYL RECORD – DO NOT BEND on both sides of the box. Have better handwriting than I do. After that all you have to do is slap an address on it and bring it to the post office. If it’s expensive, take a gamble and throw insurance on it. It’s generally less than $2 and will really save your hide in a jam.