Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bookcase Lust!

It is not waffling if it is more fun looking than buying! Consider this like online shoe-browsing, but with advice required. Besides, how can you not love bookcases if you're a booklover?

Anyways, the story: I am short. This is germane because long ago when I started grad school I bought cheap assemble-it-yourself bookcases from Officemax. I was pretty good at assembling them, but it was a bitch and a half getting the boxes home and up the stairs. (I think I had to call someone with a truck since it would not go in my tiny car.)

Furthermore, I'm not the right size or shape to wrangle bookcases across the room or into new apartments. So my cheap bookcases got torqued and tweaked and pretty much fell apart. (Although they looked nice with the paint color.) (And, I still have one of them stuck on my hands.)

So I am having fun looking at bookcases for the new place, as I will still have tons of books, but I am not finding the perfect bookcase for my needs. This is where you come in for advice. I want something a little nicer than what I had (and hopefully something a little less heavy?) that will hold up across some moves. Unfortunately, Cool Scientist Friend had the nicest wood bookcase, solid pine but very light, that her boyfriend and her stained a lovely oak color. And of course that unfinished wood shop went out of business not too long ago. And I can't see any listings for places like that in my new area. In fact I found the furniture available in my new area kinda horrifying. Particularly the used stuff on Craigslist.

Anyway. How well do open shelves work? Are they sturdy enough for tons of books? My niece bought something like this from Pier 1 for her paperbacks, but I'm not really liking it.

Especially since they seem to have very wide bottom shelves and narrower upper shelves. Hmm.

Now I am keeping my folding stacking bookcases and they work fine, so these are a possibility. They are a level of "assembly" I can handle. They are pretty portable. I'm just worried about attaching two together stacked and not having them fall over in an earthquake or cat-related incident. Am I overreacting? Also, if you stacked them next to each other you wouldn't get the cute mission spindle effect.

This is another possibility ---- some assemble-it-yourself but not solid bookshelves. These wouldn't come apart into two pieces, though they might fall over, I guess, and I both like and don't like the open bookcase look. It should be lighter. But is it sturdy enough? Do you not need all the extra parts of a bookcase like the back? This would also not work so well stacked up next to each other.

And I found an office supply store that sells metal bookcases ... I pondered that for a while, seems durable. But their site claims metal is lighter and cheaper than wood bookcases and then the list price was much more expensive. Don't get it. These are wood bookcases from another place. They are pricey, but they come fully assembled and I like the color of the wood. They also have a page with bookcases that are veneer over particleboard stuff, but have a steel bar reinforcing the shelves and are guaranteed to 120 pounds. I like the sound of that. (Don't know if I need that kind of strength, but I hate when bookshelves bow.) Those are even more expensive than these, though.

And this one I just like because it has pedestals. I don't think it would look too good if I assembled it myself (and I always have problems with the pieces looking bad or having holes drilled in the wrong places). There are some already-assembled bookcases like this out there, but they are pricey, again. Dissertation Buddy bought some insane fancy bookcases from Pottery Barn at just the right time, as they are now discontinued and I hate what they have there now. But those were big honking huge bookcases and they were about 2 feet deep. I don't have books that need that kind of storage --- I have lots of cheap used Penguin paperbacks and Dover Thrifts. They really don't belong on a fancy-looking bookcase, even!

So I don't know what I should pick. I love looking at bookcases, though. So you know what to do ---- don't just tell stories and give advice in the comments; I want links to pretty and shiny bookcases! Bookcase porn! Bring it on, people! And tell me all about your book storage fantasies.


Anonymous said...

I have on similar to the top one, although I think its top shelves are actually wider. Came from Ikea, bought it because it's cheap. I have to say, I'm not a super big fan. It doesn't seem to be intended for, you know, actual books.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I recommend Scandia from the Container Store. Stands up to everything I've thrown at it, including Basement Cat.

Poppy Red said...

Have you looked at any local furniture stores? Some places also have real-wood bookcases that you have to finish yourself, or pay them a little extra to finish. Those are my favorites.

I don't think you need the back of the bookshelf in order for it to work. But I do agree with Anastasia that those Pier One ones are for knicknacks, not books.

canuck_grad said...

My friend has these Leksvik bookcases from Ikea, and they are very pretty!

kermitthefrog said...

I recently bought a couple of these from Ikea, because they're very shallow and you can line your wall with them understatedly. It only comes with 4 shelves (adjustable) but you can buy extras.

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

I feel very qualified to comment on this issue! I have 4 bookcases exactly like picture 3 (are they from staples??) and they have held up wonderfully.

I also have open shelving from Crate & Barrel, pictured here in all their glory:

and they are also holding up fabulously after over a year.

Finally, we also have this:

which I cannot recommend enough. We use it as a room divider and have books on both sides of it. It looks great, is really sturdy - and only $99!!

Dr. Brazen Hussy said...

Oh, and these are the Crate and Barrel bookshelves:

They aren't our cheapest bookcases, but they are beautiful! There are matching wine bars and desks, too!

Bardiac said...

For me, barrister's cases are total bookcase porn; you know, the ones with the glass fronts? I love those.

If you can hold off until after your move, you might find that someone in your department has some or knows someone.

I'm also way in favor of concrete "brick" and basic pine for really moveable (I leave the concrete brick behind) and reasonably cheap, though not really classy looking.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Well, I have crummy Target bookcases, so I can't really advise about the quality of the others. Target ones work okay, but they aren't great. Anyway, just wanted to mention that where you are going, there are no earthquakes. So don't worry too much about that unless you plan on moving back to earthquake country.

Historiann said...

Why not shop junk stores? Practically everything in my house is secondhand. You'd be amazed at the beautiful stuff you can luck into, and for cheap.

I will grant you that it's not a reliable way to shop, so if you really need bookcases TODAY, it's risky. (But why not try a used furniture store first? You can always go to a big box store or online as a last resort.)

Sisyphus said...

Hmm, I used le google and wasn't really impressed with the local furniture stores/used furniture stores. And a lot of them post their inventory online and have no listings of bookcases! (that's part of the problem, that the vast majority of people aren't readers and use bookcases as knicknack holders rather than for heavy-duty books.)

Also, the craigslist site closest to me is not at all promising. I do not like the design style of the locals. ---- Not to say anything bad about them; in fact they are too much like me: the thirty-year-old, absolutely destroyed stuff looks about the same quality I let it get to before I take anything to goodwill!

kfluff said...

I will second (or third or fourth) the Ikea bookshelves recs. I've had one since I was an undergrad. It's made countless moves, and it's still in good shape (it doesn't wiggle, it holds lots of books with an extra shelf, etc.). Check your new locale to see if there is an unfinished furniture place. That's my new go to source, as the shelves are integrated into the frame of the bookcase, and it makes the shelf itself super sturdy. And you can paint/stain it any color you like! (Including, but not limited to, the exciting color on the inside vs. the room-complementing color on the outside. Fancy.)

Anonymous said...

Bookcase porn? I would love to have a library by Paschen - and the house that goes with it.

Sung said...

I made this site for Bookcase Porn: