Some people use the terms “bookshelf” and “bookcase” interchangeably. While there is very little difference between the two, “bookshelf” refers to any shelving that holds books, including open models. A bookcase, on the other hand, has at least one closed side that encases the books. Thus a bookcase provides a little extra security for your book collection, preventing them from sliding off the shelving or getting stuck or pinned against the wall. So, if you’re looking to add a new bookcase to your bedroom, den, or study, here are a few options we recommend.
Buying Guide for Bookcases
Why should you buy a bookcase?
If you’ve grown tired of the sad sight of beloved books tossed loosely around desks, countertops, or stacked on top of each other in the corner of the bedroom floor, then buying a bookcase should definitely be in your future. There’s no alternative to good, organized storage, and that’s why bookcases are such an essential facet of the home or office setting.
What should you look for in a bookcase?
Here are a few things to think about before buying a bookcase:
- Size: Size is an important factor in picking the right bookcase. Consider how much space you have in the room where you plan to place the bookcase. Also, consider the number of books you own and how many shelves you’ll want or need to hold them all. And finally, think about who in your home is going to need access to the books inside. A shorter model is ideal for kids to reach their own books, while a taller one can keep your rare or fragile books out of their reach.
- Shape: Bookshelves are traditionally cubic in shape. Rectangular and square options are very common. If you want something a little more unique, though, modern bookcases offer other options. They can be round or cylindrical, some of which even rotate if they’re not wall-mounted, or come in other geometric or abstract shapes. There’s plenty of variety from which you can choose.
- Style: Though bookcases are fairly simple pieces of furniture, they’re available in plenty of different styles and designs. Some bookcases are carved with unique shapes or scrollwork, while others have doors, glass windows, and shelves. Think about what look and style you might like best and which is most suitable for your home’s aesthetic.
How important is the construction of a bookcase?
The construction is fundamental. The overall material construction of the bookcase you invest in can have a drastic effect on its convenience, look, and appeal. A wooden bookcase provides a more classic, traditional approach, while the likes of metal and plastic models will look more modern. However, unlike with the wooden and metal options, you won’t have to worry about how large your plastic bookcase is because it doesn’t get much heavier the bigger it is, so that’s convenient for mobility.
Our Picks for the Best Bookcases
Furinno Jaya Simple Home Bookcase
A bookcase that offers ample storage space and plenty of stylish appeal without breaking the bank.
Pros: Uncomplicated, practical, and totally stylish, here’s a sturdy three-tiered bookcase that’s made from composite wood and available in seven classic neutral shades, like white, black, pastel blue, and pink. The bookcase’s shelves can be adjusted to better fit taller or shorter books or decorations and accessories you want to display. It’s also available for purchase in a five-tiered model, depending on how much storage space you need.
Cons: While fully capable of keeping your books upright and in place, some users have noted that this bookcase can become top-heavy when not placed on flat ground. Floors covered in material like carpet tend to create an unstable and potentially dangerous situation for users, both young and old. Some users have also reported that the bookcase’s thin cardboard backing isn’t as solid as the rest of the bookshelf, so it can easily be pushed out or broken.
Bottom Line: Furniture tends to be one of the pricier purchases you can make, but if you’re on a budget and need a new bookcase, then this Furinno Jaya Simple Home Bookcase should serve your literature storage needs well without costing an arm and a leg.
Furinno Open Shelf Bookcase
A conveniently sized choice that keeps your literary favorites in order while doubling as a cost-efficient nightstand.
Pros: Thanks to a slim frame, which takes up no more than a foot of floor space and appropriate depth within each shelf, this bookcase knows how to fit in most spaces without sacrificing total storage capacity. Its 13-pound frame is ideally lightweight, thanks to the effective use of particleboard, which means you can move this case around with little fuss. This bookcase also measures just 2.5 feet in height, making it a great alternative to overpriced nightstands.
Cons: Despite its three-tier storage, this is still a smaller bookcase, so it might not fully accommodate the user with a mountain of books. Like similarly lightweight options, its stability is dependent on how sturdy the ground underneath it is, so you’ll definitely want to steer clear of placing this bookcase in rooms with carpeted floors. Additionally, its particleboard frame is known to react unfavorably when its surface is wet.
Bottom Line: When it comes to bookcases, you can’t go wrong with the classics, and this three-tiered model has the trademarks of a traditional bookcase: cost-efficient, simple, and a functional design that will look good in almost any room of the home.
Nathan James Theo Modern Bookcase
A tall and spacious bookcase that knows how to draw attention with its minimalist edge.
Pros: Crafted in a uniquely modern design, this five-tiered bookcase offers stratified room for your books, magazines, photos, plants, and just about any other knickknacks you own. It boasts a tall ladder-style design that’s constructed from a combination of reclaimed wood and a durable metal framework. Each oak-laminate shelf can support up to 50 pounds, while the circular adhesive pads at the bottom of each leg prevent excessive scuffing.
Cons: If the sight alone didn’t make it immediately apparent, then you should know that this ladder-style bookcase takes up as much floor space as its design suggest. Not only does it occupy 72 inches of vertical wall space, but it eats up an additional 24 inches of horizontal space while jutting 12 inches off the wall. Its strength is largely drawn from the necessary setup of bolstering the top of its frame into a wall, which takes time and commitment that you might not be prepared for.
Bottom Line: Here’s an ideal bookcase for bibliophiles who own a large collection of texts, films, and decorations. Moreover, it’s a great choice for those looking to make a grand statement through the lens of minimalism.
Casual Home Corner Folding Bookcase
A compact and attractive bookcase that will add a bold look to smaller settings with its warm variety of color options and solid wood construction.
Pros: Another smallish, quaintly designed bookcase that functions as a piece of furniture just as well as it provides decent shelf storage for books. It measures just under 39 inches in height and 12 inches across its frame. Not only does its design shape, which fits effortlessly into most corners, make it an ideal choice for smaller environments, but its collapsible frame ensures easy storage.
Cons: Though it boasts four separate storage shelves, this bookcase can border on being too small for users with bigger book collections or an abundance of accessories. Its small stature can also pose problems for those who have a harder time bending down or over, as its bottom shelf is mere inches away from floor level. Some users have also reported that while the bookcase comes partially preassembled, the remaining construction can feel difficult to piece together.
Bottom Line: Small in design yet big in style, this Casual Home Corner Folding Bookcase provides the right kind of style, support, and space-saving elegance that would fit well in a den or child’s room.
Walker Edison Living Room Storage
A fully-encompassed piece of storage furniture that's capable of upholding some seriously heavy book collections.
Pros: Lean, tough, and traditionally styled, this bookcase offers 360-degree support to ensure your books and collectibles won’t fall off the shelf. It features MDF construction that’s strengthened by a durable laminate coating. Its hinged wooden doors keep items in place, while the inlaid glass panels in each door allow you to admire your books, even when sealed shut. Including the base, there are four storage shelves, and together they can support up to 250 pounds.
Cons: Upfront, this is one of the pricier bookcases you’re likely to come across on the market. It also weighs slightly more than most choices. Granted, 33 pounds isn’t a tremendous amount of weight, but it might be too heavy for certain demographics, like young and older crowds. The MDF perhaps doesn’t match its fine design work.
Bottom Line: With its high degree of support, both inside and outside its frame, this Walker Edison Living Room Storage piece understands what you’re looking for in terms of protection. Moreover, it’s protection that looks good.
The right bookcase will do more for you than just house your favorite literary works. It should function as a practical and standout piece of home furniture that invites curious readers and knickknack appreciators a chance to wander over. The right bookcase should also have a lasting impact, so while you might be on a budget, you shouldn’t sacrifice quality in your buy.