There has been an ever-increasing trend among record dealers to place used records outside the cover for shipment. Most will use the original sleeves. Others will place the record in a generic sleeve and leave the original sleeve inside the cover. I even received one record where the record was shipped naked outside the cover! I almost went berserk when I uncovered this, since the record was placed against the side of the box that was taped shut… the same side I had just used a knife to open! Luckily, I didn’t damage the record… but still, I found myself shocked at the packaging of this particular record.
Does shipping the record outside the cover matter?
Personally, I don’t think so. I’ve been sending and receiving records for well over ten years and I have never encountered an issue with sending a record inside the original cover.
I believe the general thinking is shipping the record outside the cover prevents seam splits. But if you put the record in a generic sleeve then who cares about seam splits? If the record is packaged tightly in an appropriately sized LP mailer then there’s little wiggle room for the record. Use an LP mailer, don’t just cut two sides of a cardboard box and tape them together… I’ve actually had a record sent to me like this… more than once. If it feels like there’s too much movement inside a regular LP mailer, use a few sheets of bubble wrap.
Leaving the record outside the cover seems more risky to me. When it’s inside the cover, it’s more protected then when outside during shipping. And there’s the issue with opening the record. Generally, I use a knife to cut the tape on the package. I do my best not to cut too deep, but I hate that I have to worry about it. If it’s a choice between seam splits on the inner sleeve or a scratched and scuffed record, I’ll take seam splits any day.
If none if this convinces you to keep the record inside the cover during shipping, then I’ll suggest something to a point I made earlier: place the record in a generic sleeve inside the cover along with the original sleeve. Or, if it’s a valuable record (or even semi-valuable), put it in a Mobile Fidelity sleeve. This is the best compromise: no seam splits to anything important, and the record is best protected inside the cover during shipping.
Having said all this, if you purchase a record from me and request I ship the record outside the cover, I’ll certainly oblige. Otherwise, I’ll send it how I’ve sent well over a hundred records without a single complaint or return request.