Our new house has a lot of roomy floor space, but bookshelf-appropriate walls are at a premium. So we need just the right bookshelves.
Since moving out on my own after college I've been slowly accumulating and then moving cheap particle board flat-pack bookshelves from Target. These do a decent job of holding rows of books and magazines.
However, each move tends to leave them shabbier, with the paperboard backing starting to come loose, the central load-bearing shelf bowing out, and corner chunks of particle board get dislodged. Flat-pack bookshelves also have a tendency to have awkward shelf spacing. They seem to universally max out at five shelves, but I almost always want to fit six shelves worth of reading material on them, thus ending up with three stacks of books per shelf rather than an orderly line. And since these were acquired one or two at a time they're a hodgepodge of colors, widths, and depths.
So—I figured—when I own a house and never need to move bookshelves again, I can buy some nice solid pieces with adequate shelving that cost more than $35 a piece. I therefore nicely stacked all my file boxes full of books against the walls of the garage nine months ago, figuring I'd wait a couple months until I'd found the bookshelves of my dreams before unpacking any.
Unfortunately, furniture shopping is a pain in the butt. Boulder furniture stores are mostly high-end, so they tend to have bookshelves that look distinguished but have significant shortcomings when it comes to the business of actually shelving books. And metro Denver stores seem to mostly have a slightly higher quality on the same 5-shelf Target flat-pack theme. I considered ordering custom-built shelves, but realized that I'm not sure how many linear feet of books of each height range we've got, so it seems easy to get a custom order wrong.
So instead we had three empty mismatched bookshelves sitting in the living room for nine months and an occasional sigh of "I could look that up, but first I'd have to find the right box." A couple weeks ago, Kelly went on a quest to find a book she needed, filling the living room floor with boxes. I decided to admit temporary defeat and last weekend I stuck shelves on the cases and Kelly's books on the shelves. And this afternoon, after not sleeping last night and deciding I shouldn't spend all day on the computer again, I unloaded most of my boxes into a reasonable categorization.
I'm fairly impressed at how compactly our combined library fits. Kelly's books take about a case and a half and mine take about two and a half cases, plus a small one for paperback novels. We've still got three cases in the garage and we used two for games which had been on built-in shelving at previous residences. Still in storage, though, are two boxes of roleplaying games (takes a shelf and change), a couple boxes of textbooks (another 2–3 shelves), 40 years of National Geographic (takes a whole case), a couple hundred issues of Dragon and Dungeon magazines (takes most of a case), and a variety of magazines from a family friend who passed away, including a large number of aerospace-related books, which seemed odd for an anti-government, anti-corporate pacifist who lived in a cabin in the woods.
So… a partial victory. I can now easily read almost any book I own. I can estimate the needed dimensions of future fancy bookshelves. And it's significantly easier to move around the garage.
Also on the eventual homeowner to-do list: make a Little Free Library.
… and figure out what to do with about five cubic feet of CD jewel cases.
… and find somewhere to put my boxes of CCGs so we can put a chest freezer and beer fridge in the garage…