I am trying to organize to send my books here. I don't know
how many books I have, nor how much they weigh. I think it's in the
order of hundreds (rather than tens or thousands). They take up about
6 metres of shelving, but that's a mix of all different sizes of books
and all different sizes of shelves!
I have two options: I can ship them, which costs £300 for a
maximum of 1 cubic metre with no restriction on weight, or I can
post them, which costs about £100 per 30 kg with fairly
generous restrictions on volume. It seems like the second option is
better, but I just don't have a feel for how many books I can fit in
to either 1 cubic metre or 30 kg. (The other advantage of the posting
method is that if I can't fit all the books in one parcel, I can send
two parcels, and the price just increases proportionately. With the
shipping, if it's more than 1 cubic metre the price jumps right up.) I
have driven myself crazy trying to ask Google how much books generally
weigh; the words are too common to get anything meaningful.
So I'm going to ask LJ instead; there's got to be someone here who
nows the answer to this, or knows where to look, or at least has a
better feel for these spatial things than I do!
options are crazy ones involving basically bringing the books here
myself. I can carry about 20 kg of books in my suitcase if I fly home
and come back with them, which would cost in the order of £100 per
trip plus masses of hassle. And I could do it repeatedly. Or, my
parents have conceived an ambition to drive to Sweden. If I could pay
for them to do this, which I think would cost in the order of £500,
they could bring me an entire car full of books. Or thirdly, I could,
you know, go and spend £300 on new books on Amazon and get them to
deliver them in one huge parcel, but I don't think I would get very
many books for that money.
So, what is the cheapest way to
end this unbearable situation of being bookless?
If it's any help, if your library is of a similar size to mine in London, you've probably got several (up to a handful) of cubic metres of books. (Think of how many boxes there were, and of what size, when you helped me unpack them.) If it's of a similar size to mine in London plus mine in Newcastle, double that.
This is anecdotal, rather than helpful... *g* A large suitcase *full* of books is, in my experience, very nearly unliftable, and also fits much fewer books than you'd expect (probably about a small-ish shelf-and-a-half for me). So I really wouldn't advocate bringing the books yourself in a suitcase.
And consequently if you ship them you're probably going to need to get solid crates, and also crates or lots of very small batches if you post them.
Oh, and if you're getting them over to Sweden, presumably you're going to need to get them out of Sweden at the end of your contract? So work out your costs (and hassles) and double them.
Might it be worth selecting a number of essential books, rather than transferring the whole lot..?
I have a couple of leaflet type things for Seven Seas Worldwide (.com), which might be another option, if something similar isn't already included in one of the other options here. They send you packing cartons for free, which are 61cm tall by 51cm wide by 41cm deep. Weight limit is 30kg per carton. To Sweden, the first carton is £99, with cartons 2-8 costing £45 each. This includes customs clearance and handling, but not taxes or duties, and they pick up and deliver door to door. That doesn't help with estimating how many cartons you would need, which is a problem I've been having myself lately! (mine's been solved by a small removal company local to my mum, who are bringing cartons and packing for me, as well as then delivering it back. My brain is not functioning as expected, and two months of pondering didn't get me any closer to working out how many boxes of stuff I might have, and if I had to pack myself I can see being still here at the end of August).
A suitcase about 20*60*80cm full of hardback books weighs approximately 25kg, as I recall from having done it rather a lot of times. That's about a metre, maybe a bit more, of bookshelf space. And you can fit...how many...somewhere between 12 and 20 large hardbacks into a book carton 40*40*40, and a surprising number, something approaching fifty, of paperbacks.
A cubic metre is a lot. A cubic metre of water weighs 1000kg so a cubic metre of books must weigh at least 500kg. Thus the 300 quid for a cubic metre looks a much better deal. A quick calculation gives 784 hard back novels to the cubic metre (if perfectly packed) which suggests you will need well more than one cubic metre. Ergo, shipping is the way to go.
Cubic metres are big, much bigger than people generally imagine. Even on an average density of paper it will likely hold substantially more than 90Kg of books (and I'm guessing a mix of low density paperbacks, larger heavier weight books etc which could scale up to 500-700Kg tightly packed). This also goes for the car option - it needs to be a car which can carry a cubic metre of books without damage (or however many you actually have).
However actually man handling a single crate that size full of books is another issue entirely. Shipping companies sometimes allow multiple containers so long as they don't exceed the metre but if its a single crate you would need a lot of help.
A combination of options might work best - some with visitors, some with return trips and some by post might work. It is worth actually getting the books measured roughly to see what you really have if it isn't a huge hassle. I've an expatriot Swedish friend working over here currently, I'll ask him how he managed the shipping but I know they used a mix of options including family visitors with cars.
my friend came back with the following comments, I've quoted his books, some points may be things you hadn't yet considered:
[Moving stuff after the initial housemoving lorry, 300ukp/cubic metre] That's about what it cost us to send a cubic metre, yes. Basically, my out-laws got a pallet and were told how high they could pile stuff on it. Then the shipping guys wrapped it all in layer upon layer of cling film and ties to hold it all together, and used one of those little foldable forklift trucks to put it in the lorry.
When it was delivered, they just put it on out parking lot, and we took it apart and carried it into the garage box by box. You can not lift a cubic metre of books all at once. (you have to be there to receive it.)
[postal costs] Really? IME, 30kg books is 0.1 cubic metre or less. Depends on how much she has, of course, but if it's a lot, I'd go for the cubic metre option.
The postal service in Sweden has become rather abysmal, I'm afraid, and you won't get big parcels delivered to your door. You get a ticket, and then you'll have to go to the post office or designated delivery place and collect it. And carry it home.
You can get it delivered to your door if you use DHL or TNT, of course, but standard parcels sent from the Post Office here will have to be picked up in Sweden.
[visitor courier or cheap flights] Bah! Wheelie suitcases. A bigger concern might be the fact that cheapo airlines like RyanAir have a small baggage allowance. On the other hand, both SAS and BA have introduced really cheap seats to Stockholm to compete with RyanAir.
An alternative might be to bring it over by car. Load the car up with books, take the ferry to Gothenburg (from Newcastle only, unfortunately - see http://www.dfds.co.uk/ for prices, but bear in mind that high season is coming up now), and drive to Stockholm. It takes around four hours to drive from Gothenburg, but if they make a little holiday out of it it might be worth doing.
[shipping in general] It might be worth checking with a smaller shipping company to see if they can offer a better quote. We got a cheaper quote from a Swedish company than any of the English ones we approached, partly because they had a shipment to pick up in England anyway.
If she expects a steady stream of visitors, I'd go with that for the nice-to-have pile. If she has a cubic metre of books she feels she would really like to have with her, I'd recommend her to check if she would be allowed to have it delivered to her workplace, so she can bring a manageable amount home every day for as long as it takes.
I'll have a little look around later, but hope this helps a bit for the time being.
I think I would go for shipping one cubic metre's worth - putting all the hardbacks in there - and posting the rest. That way, you don't have to pay a fortune in postage for the weight of the books but you get some books quickly - shipping takes forever.
Using my ever present book and ruler says that an average paperbook is 18x11x2 cm, of which 2.5 kilobooks could fit in a cubic metre, so if sounds like only one would be necessary even if there are many hardbacks.
I googled for estimates of weight and found none very certain, but seemed about 500g give or take a factor of 1.5. So £300 = £100 x 3 = 30kg x 3 = 90kg = ~200 books.
So it sounds like if you have many more than 200 you should ship, and many fewer should post, and somewhere between should work out more accurately.
However, I have no idea if your figures are correct, if shipping companies come and pick up your crate or want you to take it to the warehouse/docks, if they deliver it, what other miscellaneous fees might be charged, if you can post such a volume of books, if you should buy second hand books off ebay and sell them again at the end, etc.
I'd go for the shipping option if you're really serious about moving all your books. I can't really imagine you having less than a cubic metre of them.
I'm assuming you're aware of resources such as www.gutenberg.org and your local public library - although I can appreciate that books in English might be a bit thin on the ground at the latter. I know that books online and borrowed books are not the same as being able to hold a real alive book that is yours, but they'll do in a pinch.
Definitely the cubic metre - as people have pointed out, it's enormous. I used the Seven Seas boxes moving back to Italy after fourth year, and you could probably fit seven or eight into a cubic metre. If you can find boxes which together fit well into the volume of a cubic metre, this is more helpful.
This isn't an answer to the main question, but since other people mention customs, I just thought I'd point out that many countries won't charge you import duties on objects you've owned and used for a while - at least six months in the case of the UK. Don't know for Sweden. That you have owned them that long must be mentioned on the customs declaration along with "personal property" or a phrase to that effect. But again, I don't actually know for Sweden in particular.
Google suggests that paper has a density of around about 0.75g/cm3, which is 750kg/m2. Even if you knock off half of that to over-compensate for possible errors in the etimate of the density, or for the books not being that tightly packed, you're still at 375kg for shipping them, compared with only 90kg for the same price if you post them.
Firstly, anything that goes out there is going to come back at some point. So a well picked smaller selection of books may be a better start. Every time you go to a conference or visit someone you will probably end up buying more books anyway, adding to the problem of getting them home later, and adding fresh interesting new titles. You will probably find an english book section in most book stores - generally limited and, if it is anything like Austria, mostly full of books you don't want to read, but with the occasional gem. There may even be an english book store in Stockholm, there were two in Austria. In fact, look at this website. http://www.geocities.com/athens/4824/eu-nord.htm
I didn't buy as many books when in Vienna as it was a bit more expensive, I often buy them second hand in Britain, but it is as expensive to ship them all out, only to have to ship them back later. I found some great books in fleamarket style sales, for example the UN had a once a year International market where all the UN employees got rid of their old books before moving.
I also used to borrow books from my colleagues, who had good taste in books. So I would not recommend getting the whole lot shipped out right now. A selection of your favourites by all means, but choose books that you love rereading. As a book lover you will find that you will always accumulate books, I know I do.