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Best Bookshelves

Updated August 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 23 Models Considered
  • 21 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 141 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best bookshelves

    Last Updated August 2018

    You don’t have to be an avid reader to appreciate a good set of bookshelves. That’s because they’re not just for storing books. Bookshelves also make excellent display areas for your favorite art pieces, photos, and other objects. Depending on the style, the bookshelves can make a bold statement in a room’s décor. But there are so many different bookshelves available that finding the right option for your home can be challenging.

    Here at BestReviews, we work to make shopping as effortless as possible. We do the research necessary to understand products inside and out so you have all the facts. That means you can find the items that suit your needs without wasting any time.

    If you’re ready to shop for new bookshelves, our shopping guide is the place to start. It has all the tips you need to find the perfect set of shelves for your home.

    Mixing books and decorative pieces in your bookcase provides an interesting, balanced look for a room.

    Types of bookshelves

    When you’re shopping for bookshelves, you can choose from several types, including the following:

    Standard

    This is what most people think of when they think of a bookcase. It features a series of shelves with a closed back. Some models also have doors in the front. Standard bookshelves are excellent for book storage but can also work well for displaying artwork, framed photos, and other items.

    Open

    Open bookshelves are backless, enabling you to see right through them. These are ideal for small spaces because they can help make a room appear larger. The open design also means that the items you display on them take center stage as part of the décor. Despite the spare look, the bookcase can make a big statement all on its own.

    Ladder

    The open style of ladder bookshelves features a slim design that works well in a small space. The lower shelves are usually deeper than the upper shelves, giving the piece a ladder-like appearance. Like other open bookcases, these work particularly well for showing off decorative objects and other items as part of your interior design.

    Divider

    Divider bookshelves do double duty as shelving and room divider. These typically have an open back but can come in a variety of heights. Floor-to-ceiling models offer the most privacy, while shorter ones provide a more open feel.

    Corner

    Corner bookshelves are designed to maximize space by fitting in a corner of the room. The back is usually a 90° angle so the piece fits tightly into a corner. On some, the shelves are shallower at the top than at the bottom.

    Folding

    As the name implies, folding bookshelves have hinges so they can collapse to make moving them easier. These can be very functional but don’t usually make the most dramatic design statement.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some bookshelves have locking wheels, making it very easy to move the piece if necessary.

    Bookshelf features to consider

    Size

    Bookshelves are available in a variety of sizes, so there should be an option to fit any space in your home. Most bookcases range from three to eight feet in height. A tall one obviously offers more storage space, but it can also make a bigger design statement in a room. A short bookcase can double as an entertainment center or even a desk or work surface if you’re looking for multi-purpose furniture.

    When it comes to the width, taller models tend to be narrower, while shorter styles are usually wider. Narrower bookshelves are ideal for placing next to one another to create a larger storage space. Shorter, wider shelves can be stacked to increase the storage space.

    It’s also important to consider the number of shelves that a bookcase offers. Some shorter ones include as few as three, while taller models can offer up to eight.

    Depth

    In addition to the height and width, pay attention to the depth of the shelves. You want to be sure there’s enough room to hold all the books, art, and other items that you want to store or display. Look for shelves that are at least a foot deep for plenty of storage space.

    Keep in mind that ladder style bookshelves often have shallower shelves, so you should measure the items that you want to store or display to make sure that there is adequate space.

    Material

    You’ll find bookshelves made of wood, particle board, and metal.

    • Wood: Wooden bookshelves are classic. Wood is highly durable and offers an attractive look that other materials can’t always match. Wood is also very strong, so it can hold a large number of heavy books and other objects.

    • Particle board: This is a more affordable alternative to wooden shelves because particle board bookcases are usually designed to look like wood but don’t offer the same durability or strength. That’s why it’s especially important to pay attention to the weight limit for these shelves.

    • Metal: Sturdy and durable metal bookshelves offer a more streamlined look than wood or particle board. These work particularly well if your décor is modern.
       

    Adjustability

    If you want the most versatile bookshelves, choose a set with adjustable shelves. This type of bookcase has holes drilled at regular intervals inside the vertical panels, with pegs to hold the shelves in place at various heights. It enables you to customize the shelves to fit your books or other objects. You can also change the setup of the shelves as your storage needs change.

    Color

    Bookshelves are available in a wide array of colors, so you can usually find the perfect fit to match your furnishings. Wooden and particle board shelves are available in a variety of stained and natural finishes that work well with most color schemes. You can also find shelves painted in bold colors for a more striking look. Metal bookshelves are usually available in black or silver.

    In most cases, bookshelves in a dark color like black or chocolate brown suit more formal interiors. Bookshelves in white or other light colors are ideal for brightening a room or making a small room appear larger.

    EXPERT TIP

    Before you shop, measure the width, depth, and height of the spot where you plan to put the bookshelves. That will make it easier to find the perfect size shelves for your needs.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    A bookcase with adjustable shelves can easily be converted to an entertainment center by removing a shelf to accommodate your TV.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Bookshelf prices

    The price of bookshelves usually varies based on the size and material. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $22 and $1,075.

    Inexpensive: Small particle board bookshelves with three or four shelves typically cost between $22 and $48. Small metal bookshelves with three or four shelves usually range from $30 to $85. Small wooden bookcases with three or four shelves generally run from $50 to $145.

    Mid-range: Midsize particle board bookshelves with four or five shelves usually range from $48 to $125. Midsize metal bookshelves with four or five shelves typically run from $85 to $210. Midsize wooden bookshelves with four or five shelves generally cost between $145 and $375.

    Expensive: Large particle board bookshelves with six or more shelves typically run from $125 to $500. Large metal bookshelves with six or more shelves generally cost between $210 and $800. Large wooden bookshelves with six or more shelves usually range from $375 to $1,075.

    If you don’t plan to put the bookshelf against a wall, avoid pieces taller than four feet. Shorter freestanding bookshelves are less likely to topple over.

    FAQ

    Q. What bookshelves are best if I plan to use them mainly to store books?

    A. Books, particularly hardcovers, can be heavy, so it’s important to choose strong, sturdy shelves that won’t sag under the weight. Metal and solid wood bookshelves are the strongest and most durable, which means these work very well for storing heavy books. Particle board shelves are not as good a choice because these can begin to sag over time. You might also want to choose bookshelves with doors that cover the shelves so you can protect your books from dust and damage.

    Q. What type of bookshelves work best in a small room?

    A. Streamlined, open-back bookshelves – ladder bookshelves, in particular – can give the illusion of a larger room. It also helps to choose a set of shelves in a lighter color or finish because this can help make the room feel more spacious. If you’re really short on space, wall-mounted bookshelves are an ideal option because they don’t require any floor space.

    Q. What safety measures should I take with bookshelves for a child’s room?

    A. The main concern in a child’s room is the risk of a bookcase toppling over and injuring the child. Opt for a shorter, wider bookcase with two or three shelves. This type of bookcase is very stable. Whether you opt for tall or short shelves, it’s best to anchor the bookshelves to the wall, so there’s no risk of them falling over.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Amy
      Amy
      Writer
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer