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Ikea: Everyone has a few books. Some have a few hundred....

Bookcases: If You Build/Buy Them, They Will Fill

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Aug 10, 2011, 11:26pm Top

We were looking through the latest Ikea catalog and chuckled at this line. I think many of us have more than "a few hundred" :)


Aug 10, 2011, 11:36pm Top

LOL! We have Billy bookshelves all around our great room. All full. I'm sure no one here has the problem of actually having to SEE their bookshelves! ;o)

Aug 11, 2011, 2:22am Top


Aug 11, 2011, 3:24am Top

By "a few hundred", do they mean "dollars"?

Aug 11, 2011, 3:41am Top

Personally, I prefer to see all my books around me. I don't like much closed bookshelves: I know they're great for the dust-issue, but I prefer to get my books in the easiest, quickiest and most direct way when I need them.

And you? Closed or open shelves? Glass or panels?

Aug 11, 2011, 7:18am Top

Open, except for the two old stacking oak cases with glass fronts. One set lifts, the other set has sliding glass panels.
Billy's have been my backbone workhorses for 25 years.

Aug 11, 2011, 10:48am Top

I wish the closest Ikea wasn't 1000 miles away. The shipping is more than the shelves.

Aug 11, 2011, 11:45am Top

Ours are mostly open but I wish we had nice glass front doors on the cases which we could lock -- for earthquake issues. Had a friend whose books flew off the shelf in a bad earthquake and she now has these beautiful glass door bookcases and special locks--so the cases are attached to the walls and the doors keep the books inside. Living in SoCal, this is an issue. I hate to think of the things which aren't set up well for an earthquake at our house right now.


Aug 11, 2011, 1:04pm Top

Ours are all open, and in the Loma Prieta quake almost nothing fell off the shelves. The library where I worked then had a much worse time - a third of the shelving was not just dumped, but the shelves were destroyed.

Aug 11, 2011, 1:37pm Top

Depending how tightly you pack the shelves...

Aug 11, 2011, 11:32pm Top

During one of the larger earthquakes in the past few years I heard from people who had swimming pools. In some cases, based on the orientation from the epicenter, the water sometimes sloshed out a little or a lot. Bookcases can be the same way depending on whether they are in line or perpendicular to the wave.

Although this catalog photo has opaque doors, most Billy bookcases don't have them.

Billy cases are particle board and these don't do well for heavy books if the shelves are longer than 24" or so. Still, a uniform row of tall bookcases can be impressive on their own -- even more so when filled with interesting and attractive books.


Aug 13, 2011, 7:11am Top

My friend just moved and bought these bookcases with entire glass-doors. I think it looks very pretty! She has also put some statues in front of her books (she only has a few hundred books, I guess about 500 to 800 but a LOT of comics, and a wall full of those bookcases)..

All my bookcases are open (some on both the back and front side). I'm going to move soon as well, so I'll just take my current bookcases with me, but in the future I do want bookcases with glass doors. It keeps off so much dust, and when cleaning up my grandfather's bookcases there was SO MUCH dust on them... On my parents' books there is also quite a bit of dust even though that bookcase is used a lot. On my own books there's not that much dust because I take out the books very often, but since I'm allergic to dust I think it will be a good idea to take glass doors in the future.

Aug 13, 2011, 6:07pm Top

Just a warning about the Billy doors- you will lose some of the potential levels you may have wanted to put shelves at as they use the same fixing points. This didn't occur to me before I got one but luckily didn't greatly matter. I have mostly open but needed one with a door as I've got a mobile 2 year old and a nice collection of studio pottery; it's safe now with one of those child door locks on... The books do get pulled off open shelves unfortunately but she seems to understand not to rip the pages any more which is a leap forward.

Aug 16, 2011, 11:19am Top

Sometimes if you don't fill it they will come anyway. My sweetie was so frustrated with my stacks of books everywhere that he came back with some Billy shelves from Ikea this week and now I have a whole wall. (which is almost filled already). Extremely happy. This is what too many books can do for you.

Aug 16, 2011, 11:22am Top

Ah! That IS a sweetie.

Aug 16, 2011, 11:58am Top

How nice of him!

Edited: Aug 25, 2011, 1:57pm Top

Actually, I know it seems impossible for people here, but everyone does not have a few books. Many moons age I babysat in houses where there were no books at all. I remember well one house where I sang nursery rhymes to the baby to get her back to sleep, and the older kids got out of bed to see what on earth I was doing. And it wasn't a question of finance - these were prosperous middle-class homes.

Aug 25, 2011, 2:02pm Top

*shakes head*

Aug 25, 2011, 2:13pm Top

Yes, pity the poor children.
Whatever do they do with themselves?

Aug 29, 2011, 2:02pm Top

Just picked up 4 more Billy bookcases with glass doors over the weekend and have 2 assembled, so far. I've been buying Billys for about 7 years and, while the bookcases have mostly remained the same (though they switched from metal screw lock thingies to plastic since I last bought them, which is not an improvement, IMO), they keep changing things on the doors. The first set of doors I bought had wide door knobs, then they went to narrow, harder to grip knobs and now they've gotten completely rid of knobs and have 3"-4" spring-loaded door openers. You attach them to the underside of the middle shelf and when you press on the shelf at the right level the door springs open a couple of inches. They've also made each door into two panels of glass separated by a 2" wood strip so you know where to press to get the doors to open. I was dubious about the changes, but the doors turned out to look nice and the openers work pretty well. On the negative side, the spring-loaders are kind of a pain to install and increase assembly time by 15-30 minutes, depending on tools and assembly ability. They are also made of grey plastic, so they don't really match the bookcase color. Thus, I now have 15 Billy bookcases with 3 different styles of doors which, while no real big thing, still annoys me a bit 'cuz I'm anal about that sort of stuff :)

Aug 30, 2011, 1:17pm Top

If you can't afford hand made bookcases, Billy is a great solution to most shelving problems. All together I have 32 Billy's in my home (of different sizes and with or without glass doors). I'm very happy with Billy! But there are problems, as bookstothesky points out with regard to grips and the fixing points mentioned by C4RO.
You can see my Billy's on my profile pictures: http://www.librarything.com/gallery/member/islandbooks

Aug 30, 2011, 3:08pm Top

For those of us who spend more money on the books than the bookshelves Billy are wonderful. Although I must admit that I have overloaded a few of the shelves to such an extent that they are bowing enough to qualify as a 'smile'.

Auntie Catherine, I am still shivering over the concept of a house (shudder) without books....

Aug 30, 2011, 3:14pm Top

Goodness me! I have just had another look at the gorgeous images of your library - I wouldn't have guessed that they were Billy bookcases without you telling us.

By the way is that a bust of Napoleon ?

Aug 31, 2011, 10:32am Top

> 23
Yes, it's Napoleon, facing the east-wall of this room. There's a bust of Goethe facing the west and Ronald Reagan facing the north. Currently, no-one is facing the south. Any suggestions?

Aug 31, 2011, 10:54am Top

Leopold II ? :-)

I think I'd have Goethe facing south and John Donne facing west.

Aug 31, 2011, 12:41pm Top

Islandbooks - I covet the Mappa Mundi - if only I had a house large enought to display it;

Aug 31, 2011, 12:55pm Top

Really beautiful library! And I too would have never guessed they were Billy bookcases.

Sep 1, 2011, 1:25pm Top

U.S. Grant facing south?

Edited: Sep 1, 2011, 6:17pm Top

>22 Bowerbirds-Library: Although I must admit that I have overloaded a few of the shelves to such an extent that they are bowing enough to qualify as a 'smile'.

Buy new shelves (if the size is still one they sell) and you are all set :)
I am worried for the bigger Billies so I have a few of the narrower ones. Not that at the end some of the heavy books did not go on the long shelves....

Sep 1, 2011, 7:58pm Top

Can you turn the shelves over?

Edited: Sep 1, 2011, 8:04pm Top

>17 AuntieCatherine:
I've known kids who have gotten into elementary grades without ever singing, at all. No clue how to do it.

For a lot of folks these days, music is something that professionals play/sing and everyone else just listens. The idea that we can all make music seems to be losing ground.

And, knowing how many people say, almost proudly, that they never read books, it could only be another generation before the idea of reading a book is just as foreign to the typical child entering kindergarten.

We're getting way to accustomed to having things done for us (cooking is another example), rather than learning to do them (and enjoy doing them) ourselves. So, a home with no books, no musical instruments, no pots and pans, etc., may become the norm rather than the exception. And Billys will be only for displaying pretty things.


Sep 2, 2011, 10:24am Top

>31 Osbaldistone: - I don't think it's anything new, not reading books. I vividly remember people saying the same thing to me 30 years ago. As as student, I shared houses with people who asked me why I kept all those books: after all, I'd already read them so I knew what happened.

Sep 12, 2011, 12:53pm Top

> 32 asked me why I kept all those books: after all, I'd already read them so I knew what happened

My mother says the same thing.

Sep 12, 2011, 2:34pm Top

>31 Osbaldistone: "And Billys will be only for displaying pretty things"

No sooner said than done - http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/09/10/ikea-redesigns-classic-bookshelf-foreshadows...


Sep 12, 2011, 3:17pm Top

>34 Osbaldistone:

And yet, my thought is "Hooray! Deeper shelves! Now I can double-stack my books!"

Sep 13, 2011, 6:05am Top

#34 - I suppose it's wrong of me that I want to kick Mr. Carbone (the journalist writing)?

Sep 13, 2011, 11:08am Top

#34 I love that side table in the photo at the top of the article.
#36 I'll be waiting in line right behind you.

Sep 14, 2011, 5:18pm Top

The caption of the photo says that bookcases are becoming rare in the living room. They're rare in my living room. My bookcases are in the spare bedroom and I use the hall walkin closet.

Sep 14, 2011, 6:47pm Top

What a delightful topic!

I don't have any 'nice' bookshelves, mainly second-hand from Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity resale stores, plus one antique book stand that I was given as a child, and a couple fake wood types from Office Depot.

Wait, I have one second-hand bookshelf that is 'nice', and...wow! It's in my living room, next to the reclining chair. I have a clip on reading lamp just over my right shoulder, so I can sit and read in comfort.

Why would I trade in/get rid of any of my books? They're my oldest and best friends. :)

Sep 15, 2011, 12:57pm Top

I have 7 Billy bookcases--the 6 ft ones--and they are all in my living room. When people come in the front door, they just stop and stare, then usually say something like, "You must like books?" Well DUH!

Sep 16, 2011, 9:59am Top

I have bookshelves in our living room, our bedroom, and in my basement library. Some are nice furniture type shelves, some are Target specials, one set I built myself. But most of my shelves are a wooden folding type I found at Cost Plus. They are fairly heavy and quite durable. I've moved them from CA to AK to WV to NE to OR and back to WV, and they've stood up very well.

Sep 16, 2011, 11:11am Top

There are no books in my living room, other than some for my toddler. My books are in my library and his mom's much smaller collection are in a case next to the bed.
My library was unplanned. We had some DVD shelves with adjustable shelves that were perfect for paperbacks. Then we had some more...and yet more. Now I have a spare bedroom full of them that's become my library.
And I've never even been in an Ikea. The closest one is quite a drive from me.

Sep 17, 2011, 12:17am Top

I have a nice bookcase in my living room where I keep my heirloom books.

Most of the books that I actually read are in my library in my basement (I like to feel secluded when I read).

Sep 17, 2011, 3:37am Top

pduck, I love.

Sep 17, 2011, 10:15am Top

Looks like a catalog picture. Beautiful! Did you restore your home? Love the ceiling.

Sep 17, 2011, 10:21am Top

That room looks too good to use!

I can imagine what my cats and dog, and my dh (dear husband) would do to that place...

...when my dog was a puppy, she chewed the spine off a couple of my books that were on the bottom shelf of a bookcase...!!!!!!

Sep 18, 2011, 12:29pm Top

Thanks everyone.

Unrulysun, this is the house I grew up in, an old Victorian. My parents bought the house in 1954, so it's always been home to me. When I moved back after my parents died, I did some redecorating, but I haven't really restored or remodeled.

Fuzzi, actually my cat uses the room more than I do.

Sep 27, 2011, 3:04am Top

in reply to all who were worried about my 'smiling' bookshelves. They are still hanging on in there and so I'll just keep going with them. I have to admit that I have spread their load a little since original comment - I felt guilty.

Stafford castle, just to say that the Billy shelves cannot be turned over as they have little grooves in them for the metal pins, but thanks for the suggestion.

Edited: Sep 27, 2011, 3:08am Top

Auntie Catherine, I remember a similar conversation amongst graduates who expressed amazement that I still purchased books even though I had graduated and therefore had no more need to do so!!!

Sep 27, 2011, 12:41pm Top

>48 Bowerbirds-Library:

Actually, we have shelves with small grooves for the pins and we turn them over from time to time anyway since the full shelves mean we don't see them and the shelves don't seem to move around. They aren't Billy shelves though.

Sep 27, 2011, 1:58pm Top

I've never tried the Billy bookcase...How do they hold up over the years, do the shelves tend to bow? Thanks!

Sep 27, 2011, 3:05pm Top

#51 ~~ I've had my 7 Billy bookcases since I bought them in New Jersey, in 1997 or 1998. They are stacked to the max, and are NOT smiling (bowing). I love them, and wish I had room for more.

Sep 27, 2011, 3:21pm Top

I have a bunch of short shelves from Ikea that I bought in the mid-80s. I thought they were Billys, but maybe not. They are deep enough to double stack and have been used in all rooms for all sorts of purposes (toys at first) and the edge laminates are beginning to scab, but the shelves have never sagged. I've had other similar style off-brands with shorter spans of shelf that haven't faired as well.

Sep 28, 2011, 7:18am Top

I'm in the process of moving. I didn't know my books would really fill that much boxes! Though the LT statistics indicated something like it...
I bought 3 Billy bookcases for in my new room, two wide ones and one half-width one :) Not all my books will fit in there, I think, but I'll see! I also still have some shelf space in my room at my parents' house (I'm a student yes :P) and I'm also trying to find books I don't want anymore, but I never bought books just because they looked interesting, because I first borrowed a lot from the library to try out authors/books... And my grandfather just moved too, so I could choose from among his books too :D Ah well. I got Billy bookcases to fill! (and why the white ones are so much cheaper than the brown ones I don't know...)

Sep 28, 2011, 8:54am Top

…trying to find books I don't want anymore…

What are you, some sort of puppy stomping, kitty drowning deviant?


Sep 28, 2011, 10:36am Top

#54 ~~ I don't know why the white ones are cheaper either, but that's what I bought, because it went best with my "decor." The thing is, that once you fill the shelves, there's barely any white showing except around the edges!

Sep 28, 2011, 11:12am Top

#56 "The thing is, that once you fill the shelves, there's barely any white showing except around the edges!"

That is common of all bookshelves. I initially worried about the different styles of bookcases from the various oak furniture stores. We bought cases over time and from different places. They have similar characteristics (e.g. rounded edges, similar color, etc.) but there are differences (depth, shelf style, etc.). Still, if you have enough shelves (I always need to get extra for our kinds of books) when they are loaded with books, the books are the main thing you notice.


Edited: Dec 1, 2011, 11:48am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 28, 2011, 5:49pm Top

justjim: You don't have enough books yet, only a little more than 1000 :P
(I mean, of course, that I want the books I really enjoy on my shelves. Books I don't really enjoy anymore, I want to give to people who might enjoy them more! It's a pity if the books are just sitting on my shelves not-being-read, I think.)

Sep 30, 2011, 6:07pm Top

Okay, I give up...how do you add a picture to your post?

I can't find it in the 'help' section...

Sep 30, 2011, 6:37pm Top

Here's one of the best discussions:

I went off into a quiet corner to practice first.
, and I still have to refer to my notes.

Oct 1, 2011, 3:32pm Top

Thanks, 2wonderY!

Now I can post pictures, woo!

Oct 1, 2011, 3:37pm Top

My dad came to visit this past Spring, and made some simple shelves for my bedroom wall:

Okay, they're not painted yet, but all it cost me was the price of the lumber, and a few nails. My dad supplied the know-how, the labor and the love.

And long after he's gone, I'll remember who made those shelves for me...

Oct 1, 2011, 5:52pm Top

"And long after he's gone, I'll remember who made those shelves for me..."

Fuzzy, that makes them more beautiful than anything out of a European palace.

Oct 2, 2011, 2:50pm Top

Amen, you are so right, pduck. :)

Things of the heart are special, aren't they?

Oct 2, 2011, 7:39pm Top

It's been a privilege to see the beautiful bookcases and shelves in this thread. Thank you all.

I prefer glass doors on my bookcases because of the dust issue, but most of my bookcases do not get doors and many of my books do not get shelves at all.

I have a question - an idle question because I'm not going to replace every bookshelf in the house, but it is puzzling me - when LibraryThing estimates I need 35 Billy bookcases, does anyone know what size bookcase they use as a standard?

Oct 3, 2011, 4:33am Top

>66 muumi:. I was curious so I've just worked it out. Backsolved from my library- 49.9m wide books=10.74 Billies. Therefore they used 4m65cm shelving per Billy. They must be using the very basic 6 shelves in an 80cm wide (large Billy). If you REALLY wanted to only use Billy you probably would add at least 2 extra shelves in the frame + the top deck and you would then need only(!) about 24.

Oct 17, 2011, 7:57am Top

I've moved into a new (student) room and I got new bookcases :D Billy bookcases.
Photos: http://selenejapan.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/%E6%96%B0%E3%81%97%E3%81%84%E9%83%A8...
On the first compilation you can see the bookcase when I was still filling it. On the second picture it is "filled" (but I still have quite a lot of space left). The poster will be moved to the wall when there are holes in the wall.
I just sorted them by size but I want to do it better (at least sorting by series/size).

Jan 30, 2013, 1:41pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jan 31, 2013, 5:46am Top

I love glass-doored bookcases - my great aunt had some in her living room flanking the fireplace with beautiful beveled glass in the doors. I remember opening those doors was like opening the door to a magic world - with a wealth of adventure and excitement revealed.

I'm afraid I've never been able to afford even the materials for such bookcases (probably due to spending money on books instead of saving up for beautiful bookcases), but should a winning lottery ticket drop out of the sky, granting me great (or modest, I'm not demanding) wealth, I would spend some of it on glass-doored bookcases built by someone who loves wood and books.

Feb 2, 2013, 12:35pm Top

I love books not getting dusty and I have all the glass-doored bookcases I can afford. Several years ago I spotted a couple of glass-doored bookcases (not fine furniture and most likely made by loving hands at home, but quite attractive) at one of those cavernous barns full of dust, piled up china & knick-knacks, and furniture jammed cheek by jowl with boxes of random stuff. It was going to be under $100 for the two of them and I felt that was extremely cheap but I was hoping to get someone to carry them to the car for me. So I started to ask the proprietor "Could you -" and he interrupted "$$! and that's my final price!"... so I got another $10 off, AND they still carried the bookcases out to the car for me.

They had some interesting looking books at the place too, but with no heating and our climate, all were a bit musty. I've had no trouble filling the bookcases though.

It would be nice to be able to start over and have matchy bookcases, but that's not going to happen!

Aug 11, 2013, 6:41pm Top

I have shelves with glass doors - not expensive ones, but sturdy enough to hold books without sagging. It was a gift to myself when we bought our house - I hate dusting.

Oct 8, 12:26pm Top

Someone mentioned that Library Thing will calculate how many Billy bookcases you need. How do I get LT to do that for me? I need to buy bookcases and am looking at Billy's... but I don't know how many to buy for about 700 books.

Oct 8, 12:35pm Top

Where can I find LibraryThing's estimate of how many Billy shelves I would need? I only come to LT to add my books so I know what I have (been doing that for ten years - hard to believe). So I don't know all the bells and whistles on this site.

Oct 8, 12:46pm Top

Go to your Home Page ==> Stats/Memes==>Physical Properties

scroll down and there should be "IKEA bookcases" or maybe IKEA Billy bookcases entry

Edited: Oct 8, 2:42pm Top

>73 Cornelia: As someone with a room containing 13 Billy bookcases, how many you will need will also depend on the height of your books and whether you will be double stacking (I add additional shelves to most of my cases to maximize squeezing in smaller books, plus one of the height extenders).

Edited to add: I usually fit between 40 and 80 books on a shelf, depending on the books' size, but I double stack and bend space-time where appropriate, so adjustments can be made from there.

Oct 9, 6:26am Top

This user has been removed as spam.

Edited: Oct 9, 8:50am Top

>76 macsbrains: This room only has 9 Billys, but of course there are more in other rooms I'm sure we get up to 13 in the house, as well as Ivar in some rooms.

Edited: Oct 9, 9:33am Top

14 bookcases in a single bedroom apartment - 6 of them IKEA (or similar). They hold my novels, poetry, etc. All are at least double stacked, some triple stacked. I generally need sturdier stuff - art books galore, and the paper that's printed on tends to be heavy.

Oct 9, 9:45am Top

>79 Nicole_VanK: That's the problem I have with Billy (and any other bookcase that's made of standard-thickness particle board): the shelves bend, unless what you have in there is mostly standard paperbacks. Even trade paperbacks are a problem if you have enough of them.

Oct 9, 7:25pm Top

>79 Nicole_VanK:, >80 haydninvienna: Particle board is useless when it comes to weight bearing issues. I don't know anything about the book cases you are discussing but if it is a situation where it is an assemble-it-yourself and if the support for the particle boards are reasonably substantial (metal hangers for example) then it might be worth considering purchasing half inch thick plywood cut to the same dimensions as the particle board. I do know a number of places that sell plywood will cut it to length/width for you so all you need to do is get some sandpaper a brush and some varnish. Use the sandpaper to soften the edges and sand off potential splinters, varnish the boards, let dry and you should have some shelving that will last.

Edited: Oct 9, 11:42pm Top

The Billy is at least good quality thick particle board, and ours have done fairly well. We had some bookcases that made the shelves out of thinner particle board, and those shelves got a visible curve in them fairly quickly. (Strange people, to buy a bookcase and then keep books in it.)

I do admit that most of our books are paperbacks, and generally only one row of books per shelf.

Oct 10, 7:07am Top

>82 MarthaJeanne:: I agree, and I'm not knocking the Billy. They're reasonably good quality for their price, and serve their purpose. But I'm an art historian, and art books tend to be heavier than average. So for the professional part of my library I invested in heavy duty bookcases. (And even solid wood can sag a bit under that weight :) ).

Oct 10, 8:04am Top

>83 Nicole_VanK: My heavier books are either on the bottom shelves (better support) or in the rooms with Ivar. Not as pretty, but wooden boards.


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