For close to a decade, Dennis Ronberg, owner of Linden Tree Children's Recordings and Books in Los Altos, Calif., has been giving his shrink-wrap machine a workout. He originally got the idea from a friend who managed a record store, which used its machine to rewrap records that customers returned. "We use it for the same thing," said Ronberg, adding, "Every once in a while we'll get a remainder cassette of Peter and the Wolf. We might shrink-wrap that with a book. We make up our own little set with that or with The Nutcracker."

Ronberg also uses the shrink-wrapper for small items like worry dolls or whistles, as well as books that can be easily damaged. "Publishers often shrink-wrap pop-ups. But if they don't, we'll shrink-wrap them and leave one out as a sample," said Ronberg, who is thinking of expanding his uses for the machine and creating travel kits with crayons and coloring books shrink-wrapped together.