Bookshelves Buying Guide

Are you looking for ways to display your favorite titles? Then it's time to invest in bookshelves. These practical pieces of furniture are also excellent and convenient for displaying decorative pieces, photos, vases, and other treasured items.

Types of Bookshelves

Types of Bookshelves

What do you prefer to read: Fiction? Nonfiction? History? Memoirs? Or are you a magazine collector? No matter; whatever words are on the pages, you need a place to store them—and adore them. Bookshelves, then, come to the rescue—all shapes, sizes, forms, and price ranges. And bookshelves can be a lovely part of your decor, too, adding unexpected materials and interesting composition. Look at these types—ladder/leaning, corner, built-in, and moveable—to find the right bookshelves for your abode.


Ladder-style and leaning bookshelves are deeper at the bottom than they are at the top; both lean, or appear to do so, on a supporting wall. Ladder bookshelves have a frame that resembles a ladder, while leaning types have a top portion that rests on the wall.

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Corner bookshelves fit neatly into a corner, with continuous shelves that eliminate dead space. These bookshelves' corner spaces are ideal to fill with accents or collectibles.

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Built-in bookshelves are permanently attached to the wall, often filling in niches or otherwise unused space (such as around a fireplace) or along a whole wall.


Movable bookshelves are designed to be placed against a wall; they typically have shelves of equal size and depth up the height of the bookcase. These can often be found in less-expensive versions.

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Purchase Considerations

Purchase Considerations

Nearly every homeowner—no matter how dedicated a reader—has a bookshelf or two. Some may be filled mostly with souvenirs or other decorative items; others may hold paperbacks and hardcover books. Whatever you need to display and organize, and whatever bookshelves you think will work best in your home, purchase considerations will inform your decision. Those include material, expandability, decorating life span, and types of books. Use this guide to get started.


Many bookshelves are made of wood, which is a durable material that works in a range of decorating styles. Some are made of MDF, plastic, or metal, while others may mix materials—wood frame and glass shelves, for example.


Many bookshelves lend themselves to expansion, allowing you to add pieces as your book collection expands.

Decorating Life Span

A bookshelf painted pink and decorated with flowers may be a great fit for a nursery, but if your goal is to find a piece with a longer life span, a more neutral choice may be a better fit.

Types of Books

For a collection of average-size books, standard-depth bookshelves may work well. But if you have many items that are oversize—art or architecture books, for example—you may want to find bookshelves that can accommodate those titles.

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