So you've sold a record on Reverb LP and the time has come to ship it out. If you've never shipped a record before, you might be unaware of the best method for packing and shipping. And while records are certainly easier to ship than, say, an antique light fixture, there is still a definite set of best practices you should adhere to before you send it out.
Watch our video above for a quick illustration, and follow the steps below for a lesson on our recommended approach to the record shipping process.
A cardboard LP mailer — Record-specific mailing boxes are available through a number of sources. They are normally just wide and tall enough to hold a record and its jacket, and some have added depth to accommodate multiple records in one package. You can buy a 10-pack of Reverb LP mailers here.
Cardboard inserts — Inserts are simply other pieces of a cardboard you put into the mailer to brace the record and jacket. You can also use bubble wrap or any other sturdy material here.
Packing Tape — Any regular packing tape will do. If you plan on shipping a number of records it is absolutely worth investing in a slightly heavier-duty tape dispenser than the type you get at the grocery store.
A Sharpie, label maker, or pre-printed shipping label
When shipping records, you want to keep the disc itself outside of the jacket. You don't want the record shifting around within the jacket during transit, which can potentially do damage to both.
You should, however, keep the record in the white inner sleeve during shipment. White inner sleeves are generic and cheap. If you encounter a torn or imperfect one, you might consider swapping it for a fresh sleeve before shipping (your buyer will certainly appreciate it).
If your record is stored in a printed, special inner sleeve with original artwork, you should remove the record from this sleeve for shipment just as you did the outer jacket.
A good habit to get into is to give your records a good cleaning before shipment. Using a record-cleaning machine is ideal, but even just a quick pass with your normal vinyl brush can help make sure your buyer is delighted with the state of the record they receive in the mail.
Whatever you do, avoid the temptation to use non-record-specific cleaning products or regular towels or clothes when cleaning records, which can do more damage than good.
Once you have all the main elements of the record and its packaging separated, you can stack them all together between your cardboard inserts. You want to create a sturdy and snug shipping situation for the record and all its packaging. Try to remove any negative space within the mailer.
If your record has a clear plastic outer sleeve, you can place the record, jacket, and inner sleeve within that before sandwiching the whole whole stack between the inserts.
You can also use sheets of bubble wrap as part of this process, either as an extra layer of protection between the record and the inserts or as a substitute for the cardboard inserts. This is especially useful when using a deeper mailer designed to accommodate more than one record at a time.
Once you have everything stacked and ordered just right, you can simply fold and tape shut the mailer. A few strips of tape along the various seams and edges should do it—you just want to make sure everything is sealed and even.
Once the mailer is sealed, write the recipient's address on the box or slap on a shipping label. If you purchased a label through Reverb LP, you can print that out and tape it the mailer.
In addition to the address, you should use that Sharpie to add some “fragile” or “do not bend” warnings to the box. If you ship records on the regular, consider buying a roll of “fragile” stickers you can affix to all your outgoing parcels.
Pro-tip: If you're processing multiple record orders at the same time, label the boxes as you go. There's nothing more annoying than having to open a box you just finished packing to figure out which record is inside.
Say you got a buyer who went on a shopping spree on your Reverb LP shop and ordered a bunch of records at the same time. You can certainly stack multiple records together within a larger mailer, applying the same logic of sandwiching different components and bracing with inserts or bubble wrap. You can also try wrapping each record in cardboard inserts and bubble wrap individually and then placing those together within a larger box. This technique also works for larger or oddly shaped records and box sets.
When selling through Reverb LP, you can buy flat rate shipping labels via USPS media mail if shipping within the USA. You can also pay for media mail service at the post office, which is typically the best rate you'll find for records.
CDs and cassettes are a bit less fragile than records, generally speaking, but the same basic logic applies when preparing them for transit. Simply place the CD or cassette within a padded mailer or box with extra padding, trying to remove any negative space within the package. Unlike vinyl records, there's no need to remove a CD or cassette from its case when shipping.