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Dos and Don’ts Of Organizing Books Without A Bookshelf

Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Louisa

I have so many books that they have taken over my living space, but I don’t have the space for a lot of bookshelves or bookcases.

Instead, I’ve resorted to other ways of storing my books without a bookshelf or bookcase, so that I can make better use of my space and also have an aesthetic look.

When you don’t have a bookshelf, finding ways to organize your books can be a challenge, especially if, like me, you live in a small apartment or have a small amount of space.

But fear not, there are plenty of creative ways to keep your books in order without a bookshelf.

In this guide, I’ve listed some of the best ways to organize books without a bookshelf or bookcase, and some ways NOT to organize your books if you want them to look their best.

How To Organize Your Books Without A Bookshelf Or Bookcase

Without further ado, here are some ideas for organizing your books without using a bookshelf….

1. Get a book cart

I first thought of doing this at home after I put one in my classroom.

We didn’t have a lot of space in our classroom for permanent furniture, as we often moved around during activities and class projects.

The book cart was a happy middle ground as we could wheel it around the tables and out of the way when we needed more space.

Wheel carts are versatile and practical storage options for books. You can find them in various sizes and styles to match your taste or decor.

Plus you can move your cart around as the wheels make for easy repositioning, and you can use the shelves underneath to store additional items.

2. Utilize baskets

Baskets or cloth bins can keep your books organized, and they also add texture and color to a room.

Further, they’re an excellent solution when you want to cover up your books for storage if you’re looking for privacy or have mismatched cover designs that don’t coordinate.

You could also use a picnic basket or a berry basket if you’re looking for something more unique to store your books in.

3. Put them in draws under the furniture

If you want to keep your books tucked away, try sticking them in draws under your furniture, such as under a sofa or bed.

This option works especially well in rooms where you want to emphasize the overall design or feel of the space rather than showcase your library.

4. Wall magazine rack

If you’re looking for ways to add something unique and stylish to your home, then why not swap a bookshelf for a magazine rack?

These can look really cool when you have books of different colors on display.

The downsides to this idea are that you need to screw them into the wall, and you can’t put books that are too thick in them.

But they are great for kids’ rooms as children’s books tend to have thinner spines.

5. Use apple crates

I first started using apple crates as bookshelves when I was in my early twenties (I won’t tell you how many years ago that was) and I had my first apartment.

Apple crates make a space look hipster, cool and bohemian. And it doesn’t matter how you stack them, whether vertical or horizontal or a mixture of both, they are deep enough to provide adequate storage for books.

The only downside with apple crates is that you have to store your books stacked on top of each other and that’s not great storage practice for books.

6. Create an under seat cubby

You may have seen these beautiful pictures of people’s homes with window seats, and if you’re lucky enough to have space for a window seat, why not add a cubby underneath it to store your books in?

If you do this, make sure that you raise the cubby space off the floor by a few inches, as having your books too close to the floor can make them dirty.

How Not to Store Your Books Without A Bookshelf

I’ve given you some ways to store your books, but I have to warn you of some potentially bad ways to store your books too.

1. Do not store books on a window sill

Every time you do this, I cry a little

I know it’s tempting, as window sills offer space and make your books look pretty, but this is very bad for your books.

Not only does putting them in direct sunlight cause the pages to turn yellow faster, but you can also subject them to moisture as rain and humidity can seep through the cracks in the window.

If you want to preserve the life of your books, avoid putting them here.

2. Do not hang them on the wall

Hanging books up, though it looks really cool, will break your book. This will weaken the spine and may cause pages to fall out.

Unless you have a little shelf (which we’re trying to avoid) that a book can rest on, you really want to avoid doing this if you want your book to last.

3. Do not use the mantelpiece

I mean, really?

This is largely dependent on the style of your home, but in most homes, the mantle is within direct sunlight and this is bad for your book.

If you have a fireplace, and you use the fireplace frequently, then the smoke and embers may also dirty the pages of your book and require you to clean them.

Not to mention this is a fire hazard, especially if you also put candles on your mantelpiece which is another fire hazard.

It looks lovely but it’s not the best practice for those who want to keep their books looking lovely.

4. Don’t stack them on top of each other

I did this at University and I no longer have these books. Stacking books on top of each other is bad practice as it weakens the spine over time, especially heavy hardbacks.

Where possible, books should be stacked vertically next to one another, rather than on top of each other.

Final Thoughts on How To Organize Books Without A Bookshelf

Organizing books doesn’t always have to involve a traditional bookshelf.

With a little creativity, you can use various decorative and functional solutions to store books throughout your home without sacrificing any space.

So, whether you choose a book cart or wall-mounted shelves, your books can still be a highlight in your room.

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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