Book Organization


photo by heipei on flickr

Although digital books and eReaders are becoming more popular, I still know several people who prefer to read and keep real books. While most of us don’t have a full library, we do have a few cases worth of books to store. Organizing these books can be both daunting and confusing; there are several different ways to do it. There are four main questions to consider before choosing an organizational method:

  1. Who else, besides you, will need to find specific books in your collection?
  2. How frequently will books need to be found for reference or other purposes?
  3. How much do you care about the appearance of your bookshelves?
  4. Are you fairly limited in shelf space?

Here are the three easiest ways to organize your books. Of course, the answers to the previous four questions will determine which method is best for you.

Alphabetically - This is the most standard way of organizing your books. Because this is your library of books, you can choose to organize alphabetically by title or by author. Choose the method that is quickest for you to find them. This method is best for those that have a few different people referencing the same library of books and if the books are referenced frequently. While this won’t make your bookshelves look like anything special, it will be easy to navigate and easy to keep organized. Recommendation: separate books into fiction and non-fiction.

By Size - Grouping your books by size has two main benefits: an aesthetically pleasant library and the best possible use of space in your bookcase. If your bookcase has adjustable shelves, organizing by size allows you to position the shelves tighter together. Each shelf contains one size of book and doesn’t need to accommodate several different sizes. This method is best for those who don’t need to reference books as frequently and if shelf space is fairly limited. Hidden benefit: As most books of similar genres are around the same size (novels vs. reference textbooks), this method also tends to group books by purpose.

bookshelves with books organized by color

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By Color: Organizing your books by color is probably the least practical, but the most visually stunning. This method is best for those who store their books in main living spaces and would like to use their books as decoration. It does require an existing knowledge of the library’s catalog, as well as a memory for individual book covers, so this is not a good method if more than 1 or 2 people are referencing them.

books with matching dust jackets

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Recommendation: If you’d like your books to have visual impact, but can’t afford to organize them by color, consider making custom jackets for your books. They can still be beautiful, but organized alphabetically or any other way you choose. The photo above features custom book covers meant to look like traditional vellum. You can use any kind of material you’d like. Even something inexpensive like basic brown paper with black writing would look great.