Bookshelves Buying Guide

 Despite the name, bookshelves are about more than just shelving books.

Bookshelves make versatile solutions as free-standing dry food pantries, open dressers or displays dedicated to your knick-knacks and tchochkes. They quickly convert into china cabinets, media organizers or shoe storage. Whatever the case, the right bookcase goes miles toward making your home into the haven it should be.

What to Look for in a Bookshelf:

Measure twice, buy once:

  • Bookshelves come in more sizes than most furniture, which makes sense because buyers choose them to fill very specific areas. Before you choose a new bookcase, make sure the overall product dimensions fit your space.


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Shelf space:

  • The easiest assurance that your books will fit is to choose a bookcase with adjustable shelving. If the shelving is fixed, you can make sure it meets your requirements by measuring your books. A library comprised of hardcover octavos (from 7 3/4 inches to 9 3/4 inches tall) has different needs than stacks of trade paperbacks. Be sure to factor in enough head room above the book spines, so you aren’t bumping the corners.


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Other size considerations:

  • If you are wall-mounting your bookshelf, locate your wall’s studs. In most houses, they’re spaced every 16 inches, but yours could be different. If you don’t know how far apart your studs are placed, they can easily be located with a stud finder.

Ladder and leaning bookshelves:

  • Ladder bookshelves and leaning bookshelves offer a way to optimize space while adding to your home or office decor. Their lean-to designs are ideal in apartments or dorm rooms, where a security deposit might discourage tenants from affixing anything to the walls.

Corner bookshelves:

  • Corner bookcases work for small rooms, apartments and anybody trying to save space. In one swoop, they look great by creating an even flow over the corners in your home decor and redistribute usable space to overlooked areas.

Bookshelf Tips

If your books (along with all your bookshelves’ treasures) constitute something you’d like to keep for generations, beware of mildew, moisture and sunlight exposure for your books.
When you’re deciding how to decorate your bookshelves, start with what you have. Books are a great place to start. Organize them however you wish: by subject matter, by color, by size or by author. Arrange some books face-out and pair them with decorative accent pieces,  a bird sculpture placed in front of it. Tall, lightweight shelves will strain under heavy loads.