How to safely pack and ship a record – The Vinyl Guide
Safely packaging vinyl records for shipping is immensely important in an era where a significant portion of the vinyl business takes place online rather than in record stores. Many vinyl enthusiasts now purchase their records online from platforms like eBay or Discogs, directly from artists and labels or from the online presence of record stores. There’s nothing more frustrating than opening a package containing a highly anticipated vinyl record, only to discover that the corners are dented, the cover and/or sleeve are torn or the record itself has been damaged during transport.
Unfortunately, transport damage to vinyl records, which are a somewhat “vulnerable” product, happens quite often. However, most of these damages can be easily avoided. To my surprise even record stores and labels, who should be professionals in this regard, still seem to lack knowledge on how to properly pack vinyl records for safe transportation. That’s why Vinyl Fantasy publishes the following guide on how to securely pack and ship vinyl records.
How to pack a vinyl record securely
Let’s be honest: packing a vinyl record in a way that ensures it arrives safely – meaning: undamaged – at the recipient is not particularly difficult. There are simply a few fundamental things to consider:
Choosing the right shipping box
The appropriate box is already half the battle when it comes to securely shipping a vinyl record. It is crucial that the record has absolutely no space to move inside the box. If it has too much space to move bumped corners are almost inevitable.
The best and most sensible option is to use shipping boxes specifically designed for vinyl records. You can either reuse boxes that were used by online shops to send records to you or ask your local record store if they have any leftover boxes. Alternatively, you can purchase shipping boxes from websites like protected.de, the largest online shop for record accessories in europe. They offer shipping boxes for containing between one and ten LPs, but a minimum order quantity of 50 boxes is required.
The best choice: a box with edge protection
The perfect choice for safely shipping vinyl records is a box with edge protection. Such shipping boxes have a particularly strong shock-resistant edge that prevents damage to the record, especially at the vulnerable corners. They are usually slightly more expensive than regular boxes, but are worth the investment as they provide additional protection.
Proper protection for album covers and inner sleeves
One of the greatest dangers and – at the same time – one of the biggest frustrations is the record puncturing the inner sleeve or album cover. This is particularly disheartening when it happens to beautifully designed and printed inner sleeves. It is also quite common for the record to pierce the album cover during shipping, resulting in an ugly seam split—a tear several centimeters long. Such a damage not only looks bad, but significantly diminishes the value of the record.
For this reason we have one request: if the vinyl edition comes with a printed inner sleeve, remove the record from the original sleeve and place it in a separate, preferably padded, inner sleeve. Now you can put the printed inner sleeve back into the album cover for protection, while packaging the record and sleeve separately from the cover. This way, the record cannot damage the album cover or the printed inner sleeve. If the substitute padded inner sleeve gets damaged during transportation, it can be easily replaced for just a few cents. A printed inner sleeve that has been damaged can normally not be replaced.
For added stability, you should place the record, along with the inner sleeve, next to the album cover in a suitable plastic LP protective sleeve.
ADVICE: Replace a printed inner sleeve with a neutral, preferably padded inner sleeve and pack the record separately from the album cover to prevent damage.
Storing vinyl records and album covers separately
Separating the vinyl record from the album cover is not possible unless it is a brand new record still in its original shrink wrap. If this is the case, make sure to clarify with the buyer before shipping the record whether it is acceptable to open the shrink wrap on the side. Based on my experience working in a record store, I know that many customers prefer to have a vinyl record in its original sealed condition, as they consider it to be in mint condition only when it is still sealed. If the buyer does not want the shrink wrap to be opened, it is important to tell him that you can not guarantee the integrity of inner sleeve and album cover. No matter how well you package the vinyl record… if it is left inside the album cover, there is always enough space for it to potentially pierce through the sleeve or cover. A completely avoidable damage!
The proper shipping box is essential, but not a guarantee that a vinyl record will survive the transport without any damages. It is always advisable to wrap the record with additional packaging material to ensure it remains undamaged – in case of the shipping box being dropped or mishandled by the shipping service employees. The best option is to wrap the vinyl record with bubble wrap, which provides excellent protection, especially for the delicate corners. The use of packing paper can also be effective. When packing, gently shake the package to check if the record is still moving inside the box. This should be avoided by using sufficient packaging material. However, it is only advisable to skip packaging material if the box has edge protection.
If you want to take extra precautions to ensure that the shipped record arrives without any damage, you can use shipping fillers. These are cardboard pieces that are the same size as a vinyl record, which should be placed above and below the LP inside the box. This helps to prevent the record from getting pressed down. For shipping 7″ singles these cardboard pieces usually have a pre-perforation in the middle, allowing a piece the size of a 7″ record to be removed. You can purchase such shipping fillers on protected.de or at other online and record stores.
Sealing the box
Before sealing the shipping box, double-check that everything is secure and won’t shift during transportation. As described above gently shake the box to ensure there is no rattling sound inside. If the vinyl record still has space to move, add more material to secure it.
If everything is properly packed, seal the box with stable packaging tape. If you want to be on the safe side reinforce the corners of the box to prove extra stability. If possible put a label or sticker on the package that says “Fragile” or “Handle with Care”.
How to choose the best shipping service provider?
If you are shipping from germany check out the german translation of this article, which gives you the best shipping service provider for national and international shipping. For all other countries you have to check with your local parcel service. There is just one thing you have to keep in mind…
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Only ship vinyl records with a tracking number!
Tracking number is a must!
A final tip: when shipping a record sold on Discogs or eBay, always choose a shipping method that provides tracking number and link. Just remember: if the record doesn’t arrive for whatevere reason and the buyer opens a complaint case with PayPal, you must be able to provide proof of shipment. If you are not able to, the other party automatically wins the case and gets their money back. Unfortunately, there are cases of fraud where buyers claim not to have received the record, even though it’s not true. Only by being able to provide shipping proof with a tracking number you can avoid such losses.
Key points to remember:
Choose a suitable shipping box, preferably one with edge protection.
Remove the record from the printed inner sleeve and place it in a neutral, padded sleeve.
Separate the record and the album cover inside the package.
If the record has some space to move, wrap it with paper, bubble wrap or similar packaging material.