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Physical Book Arrangements: An Alternate to Digitizing Your Books

Frilled lizard

If your neck frill has ever stood out threateningly whenever someone suggested you downsize or digitize your book collection, you might be a book dragon. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing: you love your books. You caress the pages, inhale their musty odors, listen with pleasure to the sounds of the pages turning, and feast your eyes upon the colors, shapes, and sizes of your collection. You probably don’t even chew on the covers more than once or twice a week. But what do you do when you have run out of board space on the shelves? Here are a couple of ideas if the idea of parting with your books or digitizing them hurts you deep inside.

Double Stacking

You can double the number of books packed onto one shelf if you simply stack books on top of the ones below. The difficulty of this is that if you select a book from underneath, the top book drops down. Short Story Long Blog writer used boxes to make the back row of books more visible in this double stacked version.

Beware of safety issues: cheaper, flat-pack shelves can start to bow in the middle or break if overloaded.

Bookcase Arrangement

Rather than having your bookcases merely line the walls of your personal library, consider placing a couple of shelves perpendicular to the wall, like you might find at the public library. Be sure to leave enough space between any parallel bookcases so that you don’t feel squashed when retrieving a book in that section.

Another possibility is movable bookcases. A quick Google image search will show plenty of how-to tutorials to make hidden passageways, interior doors turned into bookshelves, as well as commercial sliding shelves. And who wouldn’t want a secret lair, or to feel like you have one when you have secret book compartments? If you choose this option, you will likely want to get help from a trusted minion, I mean knowledgeable friend, so that the weight of the shelves hangs safely and correctly.

Crafty Solutions

If you like the look of books, especially old ones, but you aren’t reading them, consider doing a search of furniture made from books. Everything from chandeliers, to desks, to beds, to bath tubs—yes, bath tubs—can be decorated with books. You aren’t limited to books all facing the same way like the rank and file of an army: a search for quirky bookshelves reveals trees, geometric forms, and shelves appearing to tumble over. Be warned: some may cry blasphemy for book unorthodoxy. But if a quirky style is what suits you, then do so with pride. Etsy is full of book folding patterns that make lovely and unique gifts.


While the idea of getting rid of even one book can be horrifying to some readers, it IS possible to make room on your shelves for newer acquisitions. One of the best ways to do this is one shelf, one section, or one collection at a time. When books or other collectibles are all arranged neatly on a shelf, it is easy to say that you would never part with any of them. However, if you take each book down and hold it in your hands for a moment, you might discover that you no longer care about it. Maybe you’ve decided YEARS ago that you were never going to read that snoozer someone gave you, but you just haven’t gotten around to donating it yet. Try it now; it gets easier with practice.

These are just a few solutions that can be applied to your beloved book hoard—er—collection. Remember, the goal is to store what you actually use and/or cherish. When new reading material comes in, it needs a home just like everything else you own. Perhaps one way to make room for the new books in your life is to send your old books on to a new life.

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