Sunday, 13 February 2011

The problem of book storage

The problem of book storage irks me on a daily basis; it often feels like our small flat is overwhelmed by books, but the problem is always far worse when there isn't enough space to put books away. (The problem of book storage also haunts me at work when the subject librarians ask for more books to be put on the open shelves than there is space for, but that is a separate issue). Since I started reading blogs and blogging my book addiction has run away with me and my flat has more books in it than I am sure the architects would have intended. I must now face facts - we have run out of wall space.

My fiance is collecting me some more shelves from Argos today (isn't that the best Valentine's gift?!) with which we can replace a small set of shelves, which will give me 2 extra shelves to put books on, but given the numbers of books which are sitting on top of books on shelves at the moment, it isn't going to solve the problem. We sadly can't convert any more of the small shelves into tall shelves owing to inconvenient things like light switches and radiators.

I've spent quite a lot of today fruitlessly googling things like "book storage solutions" which made me quite grumpy, because most of the solutions seem to be designed at people with either lots of arty books, or not very many books at all. When you have over 1650 books in a 1.5 bedroom flat you need something serious. Our long-term solution is to buy a house and hopefully we will be doing that at some point in 2011 but I do need something in the interim.

I've known about the Bibliochaise chair (above) for ages, but suspect that it would be far beyond my price range even if I could find out how to get hold of one. Ideally I'd like to find a coffee table that could hold books; although we have run out of wall space we still have some bits of carpet available, and a low level coffee table wouldn't restrict the view from sofa to television...

I've had much fun discussing the options on facebook today; Ikea have been suggested but apart from this there isn't much on offer. The Kindle/e book reader has been mentioned several times; I suppose that might limit future damage but it's not going to help right now! And the culling that I should probably face up to just isn't an option. I have found some second hand rotating book-cases on ebay which sound like a good option, so watch this space and I'll keep you posted...


  1. I know the feeling, Verity, although we solved some of the book overflow problem here by getting some Billy bookcases from Ikea and using them to cover one wall of our study/workroom. We even got shelf extensions for them and glass fronted doors but I still don't have enough room! Over the next couple of weeks I intend to move them upstairs to our bedroom as my husband's computer repair business (lots of big boxes!) is preventing easy access to the shelves. I'm not relishing the thought of removing all the books (most of which are in alphabetical order, TBR separated from Keepers etc). We had some great ones from Argos before that one of which is in my daughter's room, having painted them pink! Indeed my children's shelves are overflowing too, what to do, what to do!!! ;-)

  2. My parents' house contains so many books the foundations of the house are sagging. They have never yet figured out a solution to the book-buying problem (although they figured out lots of exacerbating factors, like producing four children who want to read every minute of the day). :/

  3. I think it becomes a challenge for all book consumers - how can they store, display and ogle all their books without it becoming a fire risk!

    I culled a lot of my books years ago and now regret this, as I have been after going back to many of these books in recent weeks!

    I know when my books start to spill on the floor it is time to buy a new bookcase!

  4. We are facing exactly the same problem Verity! It has got to the stage where our books are strewn around everywhere which not only looks messy but because there is no order or system I can't even find particular books I am looking for! We would like to be able to build in bookshelves but because we are currently renting that is not going to happen at the moment. I think we are going to have to do a big cull at some stage unfortunately...

  5. I struggle with this too -- we finally bought a house this year and I promised myself I would FINALLY get bookcases installed but I haven't gotten around to it yet. A lot of my books are in the garage and I suppose I should probably cull the ones that I haven't looked at in forever, mostly cookbooks (of which I seriously have hundreds, many of which I have never EVER used. Sad.) I do actually have a room that's meant to be a library but I think cozy chairs are the bigger priority right now.

    And LOL to Jenny's parents with the sagging foundations because of too many books! I think I'd love to meet them.

  6. It is a constant worry amongst avid readers isn't it. Since wall space is in short supply at this point perhaps boxing up some of your treasures and sliding them under the bed until your move would help. Tupperware makes long, shallow containers that work well for that sort of storage. All the best my friend!

  7. We are wondering about book storage too - we just moved into a new house a couple of weeks ago, and every once in a while I go through the rooms, imagining built-in bookcases on various walls. The only problem I fear is that more books will come in to fill the space...

  8. Search on ebay for a revolving bookcase - you can cram loads of books into one - ideal for a bedside table if you have room.
    Meanwhile, drool over bookshelf porn or Captive Reader's library lust

  9. Great topic - I'm hoping there will continue to be comments/suggestions added so I can borrow a few.

    Have you really run out of wall space, or just run out of wall space up to 6 feet (the height of most tall bookcases)?
    I installed brackets & long strips of wood for shelves about a foot lower than the ceiling - I was able to store an awful lot of books on them & they weren't in the way at all up there near the ceiling. I especially recommend this if you have high ceilings - you could get several shelves up there (& hang a ladder on a hook close by for when you needed to reach them). They wouldn't be anywhere near your light switches or radiators that way.

    If you are extremely handy with construction, you could conceivably build a false floor & store your books underfoot, but that seems like a lot of expense & work.

    You could catalog all your books and then move some of them to a storage unit. The economy of this really depends on how cheap the storage units are in your neighborhood - but if you think of it as just an extension of your apartment & a slight increase in monthly rent, it *kind of* makes sense.

    You could turn your book collection into a lending library - that way you'd never have to store all your books all at once. (I'm joking, of course - what true book lover would ever be willing to lend out enough of his/her personal library to make a space difference?)

    You could store a lot of your books at your office at work, if you have your own office. (It's important that they have at least some peripheral subject connection to your job if you do this.)

    You can get a platform bed with drawers underneath or build a loft bed with shelves on the bottom level.

    That's all the ideas I have this evening. Good luck!

  10. You know my bookcases that cover most free wall-space and I utilise double-backing and triple-backing wherever possible - is that an option for you? I'm going down the major cull and pre-emptive (of further issues) e-reader route. Why is the culling not an option? We must go to NHBE!

  11. Borrow books from a library instead of buying them? You already have enough books to surround you and keep you warm intellectually and "spiritually". If you aren't prepared to let any go then you can continue to indulge yourself by borrowing. It is so liberating!

  12. I've donated dozens of books to Oxfam Books. If I know I will never read a book again - even if I enjoyed it - I donate it. My six Austen novels and a handful of Victorian classics are the only novels I can't be without!

  13. That chair looks wonderful! Do let us all know if you discover where to buy it ;) I am currently separated from almost all my books (and bookcases), which are languishing in boxes back in Staffordshire. Sadly I think it will be some time before I have enough shelves in Oxford to host them...


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