The Bookshelf Question

So much talk of books, and so little of the vital and noble bookshelf!  When I moved last month I discovered that between getting rid of all my furniture and working at a publisher for a year, I have way more books than places to put them, so bookcases have been on my mind. The other day, I started talking to Tor editor Heather Osborn about them, and she mentioned that she has a custom-built set of mass-market bookshelves. I felt physical envy. My roommates have a few IKEA Expedit bookshelves, which waste a lot of space at the top and, while you can fit three rows deep, I hate not being able to see the spines of my books. Even in a New York City apartment, there has to be a way around custom carpentry, so I betook myself to IKEA for a little investigative reporting.

The average mass-market paperback is 6.7? tall and 4.1? wide. I’m assuming that the goal is to shelve books upright, with as many of the spines showing and as little wasted space as possible. In the case of adjustable shelves, I tried to see how close to 1 mass market height I could get them. Here’s what I found:

Name Adjustable? How many books high? How many books deep?
Billy Yes 1.4 2.5
Kilby Yes, 1 fixed 1 2.2
Flärke Yes, very 1 2.3
Hensvik Yes, 3 fixed 1.4 2.6
Leksvik No 1.9 2.1
Grevbäck No 1.9 2.9
Expedit No 1.9 3.8

Kilby and Flärke aren’t bad, but those three that are 1.9 books high just kill me.

Continuing the hunt for efficiency without the need to stack two and three deep, I checked out some CD/DVD shelving:

Name Adjustable? How many books high? How many books deep?
Benno Yes 1.1 1.5
Ivar No 1.3 1.4
Lerberg No 1.2 1
Bohult No 1.2 2.4

Based on the numbers, it looks like Lerberg is my winner; as a bonus, it’s actually a wall-mountable metal rack rather than a bookshelf, so I can put it up by my loft bed or stick a few in the hallway without taking up prime floorspace.

Some of the less-efficient bookshelves are pretty (I do actually like the way the Expedits look in the living room), and you may not mind shelving two deep, especially if you alphabetize and can find them anyway or if you have a collection of bodice-rippers that you’d rather hide from guests. I know that hardcovers and trade paperbacks need homes, too, but for those of us who dream of a solid wall of bookcases 6.7? high and 4.1? deep, try shelving meant for DVDs and you can do decently, even if you don’t have friends who are into woodworking.

[Image of very full bookshelf by Flickr user


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