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May 8, 2010 4:36 AM   Subscribe

There may be more ways to shelve your books than there are books.
posted by twoleftfeet (50 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently I need more books.

Oh...

And money.
posted by Samizdata at 4:54 AM on May 8, 2010


Only point is, no real book lover would spend so much money on something that has so little to do with reading.

Most of the cases linked are for people who buy their books by the colour of the covers.



And nothing says home to me like having stacks of books on the floor.
posted by ijsbrand at 4:55 AM on May 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


And nothing says home to me like having stacks of books on the floor.

Me too, but unfortunately my wife feels the opposite. And I have to do what she says.

The yin yang bookcase may be my favorite. Thanks for the link--I love this stuff.
posted by zardoz at 5:12 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


And nothing says home to me like having stacks of books on the floor.

This reminds me of a piece of local university folklore. But although I'm calling it a piece of folklore (there's been a bit of confusion as to who it's about), knowing the situation in post-war Soviet Union, I find this story entirely plausible. According to this story, Viktor Masing, a botanist and a long time professor at the university, once used to live in a single room in a student dormitory. He had so many books that he had nowhere to keep them, so he kept them in stacks on the floor. The whole floor in his room was supposedly covered in several layers of books. And underneath all these books, he kept his stash of winter potatoes. The stack of books on his floor was fifty or sixty centimeters (about two feet) high, so that if you wanted to enter his room, you first had to climb up a bit. It also meant that Masing could never find the books he needed in this mess, so he was forced to work in the university library.
posted by daniel_charms at 5:15 AM on May 8, 2010


"Oh, this little thing? [gesturing at towering multicolored steel-and-glass wall installation that holds three books] I picked that up for a song [her corporation bought and sold the worldwide rights to "White Christmas" this morning]."
posted by pracowity at 5:24 AM on May 8, 2010


If I had so much money that I could afford to buy things like this to put my books in, I might do it.

But if I had that much money, I probably wouldn't have time to read my books.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:34 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


You can disparage spending more on bookcases than on books (typing on a laptop that cost more than a bookcase), but I like the way that many of these designs solve the book storage problem in innovative and interesting ways. As a do-it-yourself bookshelf builder, I'm inspired by more than a few of them to do something different next time.

By the way, some of these designs are nicely adaptable to wine storage, a problem that happily does not lend itself to a digital solution.
posted by beagle at 5:39 AM on May 8, 2010


He had so many books that he had nowhere to keep them, so he kept them in stacks on the floor.

Last autumn a book lover from Groningen, the Netherlands, was threatened to be evicted from his home because he kept too many books. This video is in Dutch, but the images say more than the words.
posted by ijsbrand at 5:43 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


some of these designs are nicely adaptable to wine storage

Lovely idea for another post. The great number of wine storage options can make you dizzy.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:45 AM on May 8, 2010


Here's how lovely Loganberry Books in Cleveland built it's "total book immersion" Literary Arts Room -- warning: you will want to go there very badly. But it's in Cleveland.
posted by Faze at 5:48 AM on May 8, 2010


Most of those aren't too practical for people who have lots of books, or want to get at them frequently. The leaning ones, you can't pull a book out without everything else moving. The C-clamp one means basically you can't ever use those books, and you're damaging them. However, the house with curved walls made totally of bookshelves, about seven entries down on the first link made me quiver with excitement. And the staircase made of bookshelves was pretty awesome.

I have a circular bedside table which is about 18" in diameter, which is where I keep my "currently reading" pile. Or piles. Yesterday, the two piles were somehow of equal height, about 10" high, each. I needed somewhere to set my Powerbook, so I spanned the two piles across the top with it, looked and my wife and said excitedly "Look! Stonehenge!" She was not amused.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:54 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


It isn't the expense of these shelves that I object to. It's the impracticality. A real reader needs density. Most of these don't provide that.

I've got 3 floor-to-ceiling shelves, plus multiple waist-high ones and we STILL have books stacked in front of books, piled on tables, scattered on the floor and face-open-on-the bureau-3-deep.
posted by DU at 5:57 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


By the way, some of these designs are nicely adaptable to wine storage

I was thinking some of them might also make excellent display cases for yachting trophies.
posted by pracowity at 5:59 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


It isn't the expense of these shelves that I object to. It's the impracticality.

The impracticality is part of the expense.
posted by pracowity at 6:01 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I could use a nice, creatively designed shelving system to hold my book collection. Buuuuut, $$$$.

Too bad I'm too lazy, else I'd just build one myself.
posted by Bwentman at 6:02 AM on May 8, 2010


The great number of wine storage options can make you dizzy.

Clearing them out will make you dizzier still.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:05 AM on May 8, 2010


I could use a nice, creatively designed shelving system to hold my book collection. Buuuuut, $$$$.

They have an Escher bookcase at IKEA.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:09 AM on May 8, 2010


It isn't the expense of these shelves that I object to. It's the impracticality. A real reader needs density. Most of these don't provide that.

But what they do provide is a way of filling all that fucking space in your hyper-expensive warehouse conversion. Real people in real houses or apartments simply can't afford to trade function for form in the way that these bookcases do.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:10 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't idly leaf through books hanging in a C-clamp or acting as the legs of table. I find many of these shelves irritating. Look at me, I buy books by the foot!

Most of the cases linked are for people who buy their books by the colour of the covers.

Oh, this. This.
posted by codswallop at 6:16 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


It isn't the expense of these shelves that I object to. It's the impracticality. A real reader needs density. Most of these don't provide that.

and it's clear that, given the geometry of books, the solution with the largest density of books is a rectangular cabinet with adjustable shelves.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:42 AM on May 8, 2010


I look at those and think of them as art more than bookshelves. Color coding your books? Check out Bookshelves for some book storage porn. Density?
posted by Gorgik at 6:43 AM on May 8, 2010


A Wilkes-Barre man was evicted because local authorities considered his book collection a fire hazard.

I'm guilty of the stacks of books on the floor (and bed, and dining room table, and coffee tables, and suitcases, and couch, and baker's rack, etc.) myself, but I try to remember this story when I say, "I should buy some more books." So far, it hasn't stopped me from buying many books, but I did get Kindle for my PC and my ipod. And yes, I do have bookshelves. The problem with bookshelves (and apartments) are that you run out of space.
posted by crataegus at 6:51 AM on May 8, 2010


Most of the cases linked are for people who buy their books by the colour of the covers.

Just because your bookcases are arranged by color does not mean you bought the books for that purpose. At least one prominent MeFite has a bookcase arranged by color on which she lavishes loving attention.
posted by OmieWise at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2010


A real reader needs density.

Some "real readers" make extensive use of libraries, so they have a smaller, revolving collection of books. Or most of their books are digital, and they only buy hard copies for works that are especially beloved or pretty.

Most of these wouldn't hold all of my books, but I would love to have a couple of these shelves in my living room, to keep the library books off of my coffee table.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:09 AM on May 8, 2010


These remind me of the guy who redesigned his apartment, whereby it was a series of module on a slide rail attached to the ceiling. He'd slide one across to completely change the function of the room. Anyone else remember that?
posted by djgh at 7:26 AM on May 8, 2010


A lot of these seem more decorational than practical, but the staircase bookshelf? I would kill for that in my home.
posted by runaway ballista at 7:49 AM on May 8, 2010


There may be more ways to shelve your books than there are books.

This is trivially true for any number of books greater than two. If you have one book, A, there is only one way to shelve it: A.

If you have two books, A and B, there are two ways: AB and BA.

However, if you have three books, A, B, and C, there are already six ways: ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, and CBA.

From then on, it increases rapidly.
posted by moss at 7:53 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the staircase bookshelf is the only thing here that doesn't irritate the hell out of me -- almost everything else seems like a way to spend $4000 for the purpose of storing eleven books.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:55 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


And for the book lover who would rather spend her money on books than on shelves there is the Billy.
posted by francesca too at 8:04 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I love abut the staircase bookshelf is it seems to be the only one that comes from the sort of practical problem that many book lovers face: what the hell am I going to do with all these books? The rest of them seem -- with the rafters solution possibly excepted -- seem to be answering a different question: what the hell am I going to do with all these bare walls? Now, that's not necessarily a worse question, but it's less important to me, and probably less important to everyone here who's being critical of these sculptural "bookshelves."
posted by .kobayashi. at 8:08 AM on May 8, 2010



You don't idly leaf through books hanging in a C-clamp or acting as the legs of table.


Not that I don't agree with your point, but the table-leg books are actually in shelf-shaped legs, it looks like - it's just a vertical stack and an optical illusion.

Now this, this I don't get at all. If I buy a copy of The Sacred Texts of the World, can I sell it to the people who bought this at a 10,000% markup?

100,000% if I buy the neat sixties edition used
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 8:15 AM on May 8, 2010


"But then, there, his sleeping face against her beating chest, she revealed nothing. She didn't say, You are going to marry. And she didn't say, I am going to kill myself. Only: How do you arrange your books?"
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 8:19 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked some of them; others were answers to questions I am not asking (like, how do I display 10 books on my vast expanse of wall?). But even people like me, who fill floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and still have stacks on the floor, have niches around the house that could be attractively filled by one of these odd and slightly impractical bookshelves.
posted by Forktine at 8:35 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my experience.. never buy a bookshelf made from particle board, like most of the cheap ones from Ikea etc.. the reason is, once particle board gets wet or even damp in a humid climate, it mildews and takes on a terrible smell forever, which then infects your books and it's very difficult to get rid of. You save some money up front but take a risk of ruining your books. I have a $2000 encyclopedia set that I'm still trying to salvage because a cheap particle board bookshelf stank it up with mildew. Now I buy used barrister bookcases, not cheap but worth it for a lifetime. Used solid wood shelving from "This End Up" etc.. shouldn't be that costly.
posted by stbalbach at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


These links make me MAD! Bookshelves are not for floofy art! Bookshelves are for holding tomes of knowledge!
posted by rebent at 9:28 AM on May 8, 2010


the solution with the largest density of books is a rectangular cabinet with adjustable shelves.

NO.

I love the idea of Barrister shelves for the purpose of moving, but I'm unsure how to properly secure them in earthquake country. I also hate particle board with the fiery passion of a thousand suns, because it chips easily, heavily loaded shelves need to be flipped regularly to counter warping, and it is ungodly heavy for it's strength.

I just bought my first glass fronted arts & crafts knockoff oak bookshelf, and it makes me feel like a grownup more than my floor to ceiling finished pine shelves.

For those who appreciate this, you may want to follow the bookshelf blog.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:48 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, you can be a reader without being a collector. I've kept maybe 1% of the books I've read, which is good, because I can't afford a huge archival system.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:50 AM on May 8, 2010


That clamp shelf made me want to cry. Who does that to a book?
posted by Jilder at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, you can be a reader without being a collector.

Not if you're me.

I'm well aware that I'm overly fond of things, and I'm working on why I'm so materialistic, but the books are staying.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:38 AM on May 8, 2010


Display book cases make me think of The Great Gatsby:
“What do you think?” he demanded impetuously.

“About what?” He waved his hand toward the book-shelves.

“About that. As a matter of fact you needn’t bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They’re real.”

“The books?”

He nodded.

“Absolutely real—have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and—Here! Lemme show you.”

Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the bookcases and returned with Volume One of the “Stoddard Lectures.”

“See!” he cried triumphantly. “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too—didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?”
(from Chapter 3)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Those rolling bookcases are awesome. My college library has them for long-term storage of rarely-used items. Ideal also for hiding behind to read the paper when you're supposed to be stock-taking.
posted by djgh at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2010


And, for an alternate view, commentary from mnmlist and Unclutterer.
posted by WCityMike at 11:41 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The leaning ones, you can't pull a book out without everything else moving.

Of course that's true also of stacks on the floor.

But a slight lean, like this, would work well — easy enough to re-shelve the book in the right spot, and no need for bookends.
posted by beagle at 12:11 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are good practical reasons for keeping a large collections of books if you have the space. Libraries pull books and sell them to make space for new acquisitions. That makes sense but it means that you can not count on the library to keep the all the books you might like or to choose to buy the new ones you want. You give up control over your access to the books. As for digital copies, even large companies go out of business or change their policies so unless it's in an open format and in the public domain you can't be certain you will always have access to it. But the ones on your shelves at home are yours forever.
posted by Tashtego at 1:00 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


These remind me of the guy who redesigned his apartment, whereby it was a series of module on a slide rail attached to the ceiling. He'd slide one across to completely change the function of the room. Anyone else remember that?

Currently winning in the answering-my-own-question stakes, thanks to WCityMike's links:

Gary Chang's 24 rooms in one.
posted by djgh at 1:07 PM on May 8, 2010


There may be more ways to shelve your books than there are books.

This is trivially true for any number of books greater than two. If you have one book, A, there is only one way to shelve it: A.


Not true. If you have only one book, you still have at least the following options:

* vertical or horizontal
* spine facing room or wall
* if vertical, title on spine can be top-to-bottom or bottom-to-top
* if horizontal, title can be right way up or upside down

And that's before even considering placing the book on angles.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:47 PM on May 8, 2010


Here's how lovely Loganberry Books in Cleveland built it's "total book immersion" Literary Arts Room -- warning: you will want to go there very badly. But it's in Cleveland.

Hey! No Cleveland jokes, Faze! But I second your comment -- Loganberry is amazing, and Harriett, who owns it, is delightful. I'm going to have to put some of her ideas into practice here soon if we don't get our bookwormery under control.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:05 PM on May 8, 2010


Some of these are obviously made from awesome sauce, but some of those are only good as a theory -- they take too much space and hold too few books and other would kill your back and knees...interesting, all the same...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:06 PM on May 8, 2010


Yeah, the staircase bookshelf is the only thing here that doesn't irritate the hell out of me -- almost everything else seems like a way to spend $4000 for the purpose of storing eleven books.

Ditto.

In my experience.. never buy a bookshelf made from particle board, like most of the cheap ones from Ikea etc.

And ditto--my ceiling leaked one bad winter, whereupon the last particle-board bookcase I owned died a particularly unpleasant death. You have to go with wood.

Also, make sure that the shelves are bullnosed for reinforcement--otherwise, they tend to get bendy. I wound up belatedly hiring a carpenter to add bullnoses (and an extra strip of wood in back for reinforcement) about a year after I purchased the Many Bookcases of Doom.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:31 PM on May 8, 2010


Thanks so much for posting this--while obviously some of these are not practical, I loved it.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:53 AM on May 9, 2010


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