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Bookcases buying guide

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Having the right bookcase not only expands your storage, but it can also set the tone of the room. An antique bookcase or glass bookcase can give a classic, traditional look to your library, while a kid's bookcase will generally be smaller and in kid-friendly colours. You can even choose a bookcase headboard to hold your night-time reading material or a kitchen bookcase to hold your collection of cookbooks.

You can easily find bookcase furniture in any style, colour, or material. Popular wood bookcase choices include an oak bookcase, maple bookcase, walnut bookcase, pine bookcase, cherry bookcase, maple bookcase, or mahogany bookcase. Your colours are also varied, including a white bookcase, black bookcase, red bookcase, blue bookcase, or brown bookcase, just to name a few.

When books were all hand-written, they were expensive, and only the clergy or wealthy landowners were able to afford books. At that time, books were stored in small containers that the owners could carry with them. When a religious house or wealthy home collected many manuscripts, they were stored in cupboards, which were the predecessors of the modern bookcase cabinet. Doors were later removed for easier access; however, volumes were stored face forward, not spine forward. The band that closed the book, usually made of vellum, leather, or parchment, was used to inscribe the title, which was on the front cover instead of the spine. When the printing press made books more accessible to more people, it became common to write the title on the spine, shelving books with the spine out.

Today bookcase storage is for more than just books. A corner bookcase may hold your collectible items, while a home office bookcase could shelve all your office supplies. Early bookcases were made of oak, which is still a popular choice for a library bookcase.

Whatever type of bookcase you want, Price Inspector can help you find it at a cheap price. Our Inspectors have shopped the top UK stores to find you the best selection and the best prices. Our buying guide can help you decide what you want and answer any questions before you start shopping.

Types and styles of bookcases

Bookcases are available in all sizes and shapes. Some extend all the way up to the ceiling, while others are only waist-high. Bookcases can be narrow or wide, with closed or open shelves. Some bookcases have doors, which provide more protection against dust and moisture for rare books.

Common bookcase options include:

  • Barrister bookcases: These were made popular by legal or government offices. They are usually stackable, letting you add more space as needed, and they feature clear doors that raise up and slide back out of your way. They are sized to fit books and binders, offering both high function and classic style.
  • Children's Bookcases: This style of bookcase is usually made from durable, kid-friendly materials. Featuring a shorter height for easy access by children, they are often made with bright colours. They will look great in a children’s room or play area.
  • Corner bookcases: These great space-saving options are triangular in shape, and the shelves may be rounded. They do not hold as many books as a traditional case, but they will make use of a wasted corner space.
  • Standard bookcases: These bookcases come in a number of different widths and heights. What they all have in common is that they sit flat against your wall, usually featuring adjustable shelving. The shelves are deep enough for standard-sized books, but do not usually accommodate binders or deeper books.
  • Wall bookcase – With a wall bookcase, you can simulate a built in bookcase look, creating a large storage area for books, multimedia equipment, and display items. Many of these units have separate pieces that can stand alone, but a large area will be needed to assemble the whole unit.
  • Child-friendly designs will usually feature slick finishes that will allow for easy cleaning of sticky fingerprints, and they may feature bright, cheerful colours.
  • Classic bookcase: This design style features darker wood finishes and often have details such as crown moulding, elegant accents, or carved details.
  • Contemporary bookcase or modern bookcase: This style of bookcase features smooth finishes, clean lines, asymmetrical design, or open structures. They are influenced by industrial design.
  • Office bookcase are designed for durable, efficient use and are usually large and deep. They are often made of heavy wood or welded metal for frequent use.
  • Transitional bookcases fall somewhere between classic and contemporary. They usually offer the same rich colours and wood grains from a classic bookcase, but with simpler details found in a contemporary design.

Things to consider before buying your bookcase


  • Deciding where the bookcase will be located is your first step. This will help you decide what type you need, such as if you need a corner bookcase, a narrow bookcase, or a long low bookcase.
  • Once you have selected the location, measure the height and width of the wall space. Also make sure to measure the maximum depth you have available. This will help make sure the bookcase won’t block foot traffic, such as if it is near a doorway or walkway.
  • First, decide what design features you really need. This can help you narrow down the selection, eliminating those that don’t offer the right functionality. For example, consider a bookcase that has adjustable shelves. This will allow you to raise, lower or remove shelves to fit your collection; for example if you have some tall, over-sized books.
  • Consider the design style of your room when choosing the material. A metal bookcase or solid wood bookcase should tie in with the rest of the room’s furniture. There are also bookcases that combine metal and wood for a transitional design look.
  •  Choose your finish based on the rest of the room. You can find light or dark wood, black, white, red, blue, or custom colours to help complement the rest of the room.
  • Look at the number and size of books or items that you want to store. Make sure you are buying a bookcase that offers enough storage.
  • If you are buying a closed bookcase, one that has doors instead of open shelves, consider one with interior lighting. This will make it easier to locate the book you are seeking, because closed bookcases don’t allow as much light inside.

Buying books

Now that you’ve expanded your book storage options, you may find that you’re ready to buy some more books. Some people may build a library of books strictly for looks, while others collect rare books, such as signed first-editions from important authors. Still other people will buy a book to read and keep only their favourites for future re-reading.

Whatever kind of book collector you are, you can use the Internet to find a wide selection of books, both new and used. The Internet will let you connect with book sellers across the globe, whether retailers or personal sellers, in either a set-price or auction format.

New books are the perfect item to buy online. You know exactly what you’re getting, no need to try on a shirt or test out a chair’s comfort. You can even read reviews from other readers if you’re unsure about a particular purchase. Except for the heaviest books, shipping rates are usually fairly reasonable.

Where you will need to be careful is if you’re buying used books, especially collectible ones. If you’re just buying a used book for a cheap read, it may not be an issue, but if you’re buying a rare collectible book, do your research. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable seller. A quick Internet search will usually disclose if there are many other buyers who have encountered problems; if so, steer clear of that seller, especially if the deal looks too good to be true.

If you’ve decided the seller is reputable, your next step is to make sure you clearly understand the book’s condition, as well as any return policies if you are dissatisfied with your purchase. For example, does the seller accept returns? If so, for how long, and who pays the return shipping? If it’s a local seller, do you have the option to pick up in the store to save shipping costs?

With just a little research, you can easily find new, used, and collectible books to help fill your new bookcase

Buying Guide to Bookcases
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