Organizing Your Book Collection

Category Books
Have you ever not been able to find a book that you knew you had? Books are a great addition to any household, but they do take up a lot of space and require organization. This is a page about organizing your book collection.


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I have moved a number of times and have found through experience that when moving my many books it is best to use a smaller box, when possible. A good choice for me is one that is 1 foot square. This will require the use of more boxes, but has saved my back and the consistent size makes stacking easier.

Similarly, I currently have a small house and can not have all of my books out on shelves. When I recently packed up some boxes with books that I had read I added a printed contents label to the outside. Now it is easier to find a specific book when I want to share it with a friend.

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I have purchased quite a few books over the years. I spent so much money on the books themselves that I didn't have enough leftover to buy shelving, and that's where I got the idea for this helpful little tip. I had stacks of books all over the house, and I finally decided that something had to be done, so I went on a hunt. I found a damaged dresser that had been left in the basement by the previous owner of the house, so I pulled it out and started brainstorming a way to turn it into a bookshelf.


I came up with the idea of taking all the hardware off the drawers and stacking the drawers on top of each other. The bottoms of the drawers now became the back of my new modular shelving unit. Each shelf measures 36 inches wide, 15 inches high, and 8 inches deep. With a little bit of staining, the new shelves make a beautiful addition to the living room, turning my unsightly stacks of books into a source of numerous complements.

By Jessica from Marion, NC

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As an old person with an arthritic neck I have dreamed up a better way to shelve some of my books. I place the ones whose titles can be read while the book is lying flat on the shelf in that position.

upper shelves with books lying on their side

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Books are among my most valued treasures! I believe they are part of what makes my house a home. As a senior citizen, I'd like to share with you what I have learned.

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Recently, we got rid of many of our DVDs and video game cases so we no longer had a use for these tall narrow shelves. However, they are just the right size for paperbacks.

Use DVD Shelves for Paperbacks

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September 28, 2011

My solution has four facets. First, go through and alphabetize your books according to title, laying them on the shelf flat with one pile for one or two alphabet letters. If the pile gets too large, start another one.

Books sorted on bookshelves.

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December 27, 2011

Most book lovers eventually encounter the same problem sooner or later: how to organize their book collection. If you have a few books then this might not be such a problem.

Lending Books, Organizing Your Book Collection

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July 21, 2011

I have organized my books first by subject, for example: home improvement, health, autobiographies, gardening, true crime, Oprah collection, spiritual, fiction, and non-fiction.

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If you have a computer, for the simplest way to organize your book would be to list them in alphabetical order. With that list, place them in a book shelves, starting from left to right (directional reading).

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I was getting overwhelmed with paperbacks, they would be 2 deep on my shelves and I would have trouble finding the one I wanted.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

My problem is that I don't know how to organize my books. I have alot of them and lots of shelves. Am I supposed to do them by author or subject or something?


Thanks for your advice!


July 30, 20060 found this helpful

I personally organize Fiction alphabetically and Non-Fiction by catagory. You could also learn the Dewey Decimal System that they use in Libraries. That would be a big help in the future.

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By Patsy (Guest Post)
July 31, 20060 found this helpful

I would organize the books by age group. 0-3, 3-5, 5-7, etc. etc. You would know right away what age group they are suitable for.
Good luck!

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October 4, 2005

I am looking for an inexpensive way to store all my daughters books. She is 2, loves books and has SO MANY! At first, I used a jumbo diaper box, but since she has accumulated more, it is overflowing and she can't see what books she has.


Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!


By Cassie (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

this is what I did for my wee one-

Get some dowels, and 2 pieces of're making like a "towel rack" only it's for books. I wish I could show you a picture of ours.

Basically, you attach the dowels on the 2 pieces of wood (that are parrallel from one another. The books get draped over the dowels, similar to some magazine racks? Hope this helps!

ps-i just told the guy at Home Depot what I was planning to make and he drilled the holes in the 2 side pieces for me (I think it was 25c a cut?)

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By Sharon,Ky (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

My Grandson had a plastic shelf full of books,and the weight began to bend it.I found a 3 shelf wooden bookshelf,painted it and organized the books by size.It now looks nice in his room and the plastic shelf holds movies and games. After he's through with a book he's putting them back on the shelf.Books cost too much to sling in a crate and an organized shelf teaches them to be responsible for their books.You can often find them unpainted for less than $20.It's well worth the investment,to take care of their book collection.

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By Linda (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

Small or med crates or plastic shoe boxes are easiest for children to keep books in. Teach them to place books in spine up or standing up so they don't damage each other.


Keep one box or crate out at a time, and rotate them. Another good option is a magazine rack, they have wooden ones for usually about $10-especially now around holiday giftwares.

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By Lori (Guest Post)
October 5, 20050 found this helpful

No tips for storage, Heather (sorry 'bout that), but I just wanted to applaud you for encouraging your daughter's reading habit. Speaking as someone who has a life-long love of books, you have helped establish something for your daughter that will give her much pleasure and learning for the rest of her life. Good for you!!

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By christi (Guest Post)
October 6, 20050 found this helpful

If you have a local freecycle group ask them for a bookcase. You can probably get on for free.

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October 6, 20050 found this helpful

I'm having the same problem, so the advice helped me too. Thank you! I'm a member of our local freecycle and it didn't even cross my mind to post on there for one.


By the way, the website for freecycle is if you want to try to find you one also. I seen on they have small bookcases for only $17.98 which isn't that bad.

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By Mindy (Guest Post)
October 19, 20050 found this helpful

I have a 3 year old who loves to read with me as well. I have purchased plastic dishpans from the dollar store and put the books in these. Stand the books up in the pan. We have then put them either on the floor and slide them under her bed or put the pan on a bookshelf.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

May 30, 2001

I have lots of books (ones I use and reread) that I would like to be able to organize. How do you go about organizing your books. I have books for reference, cook books, novels, and non fiction. What is the best way to organize them, all together, alphabetically or by type?



Type and Subject

I organize my books first by general type: Cookbooks, etc. Then break that down into subtypes: Ethnic>Mexican (or whatever) then alphabetically by author. Same with reference or any other sort of book.. Make sure you have easiest access to those books you do use a lot. (05/31/2001)

By Alekscat the frugal feline in Richmond, VA

Organizing Books

I have lots and lots of books, in every room of the house. I organize my books in several ways. First, I put books nearest their place of use (except for most of the cookbooks which are in the dining room because I have a teeny, tiny kitchen). The reference books all go together in the hallway, the children's books are all in another hallway near their bedrooms, the DIY, gardening, mothering, household management and bird watching books are all in my bedroom and the school books are all in the school area (we homeschool). Within each area, the books are then either sorted by title or by smaller subject. The cookbooks are divided into crockpot, easy, general and food storage sections. The children's books are divided into easy readers, science, people, baby books, and animals. The reference books are divided into dictionaries, atlases, foreign language, wildlife, and encyclopedias. The gardening books are divided into flowers and vegetables. Etc.

This has worked very well for us; books are close to where they are used (generally speaking) and organized enough to make finding things quickly but not have to spend a lot of time keeping each book in its exact spot. (The children's books are the most loosely 'organized' for obvious reasons!) (05/31/2001)

By Jennifer Raffety

By Subject, Then Author

I have hundreds of books myself. What I do, is separate by topic, then place in alphabetical order by author. If I want a mystery by Patricia Cornwall, it's in the mystery section under C [this also makes it easier to check for dupes.] My cookbooks are grouped together by topics and/or types of cooking. Your standard [Betty Crocker, McCalls], special Authors [Emeril, Julia Child], type of cooking [BBQ Chinese, crockpot, Dessert, French, microwave], and the rest just in alphabetical order. I also keep the paperbacks and hardbacks separated, but grouped in the same order as above. (05/31/2001)

By KayD

Non-fiction by Subject, Fiction by Author

I have volunteered in a public library and set up two church libraries and a private school library. It would make the most sense to organize your non-fiction books by subject. You will find that when looking for a particular cookbook, you will automatically go to the cookbook section. Once they are organized by subject, the next step would be by title.

The fiction books, in a home library, would be easier to access if they were arranged by author first and then by title. However, if you have any books that are in a series, arrange them in number order. I have a lot of fiction as well as mystery books. I have all the fiction together and a separate section for mystery. I have a third section for the westerns that my husband reads. By having all of my books organized this way, I can find whatever I want very quickly without having to search. (05/31/2001)

By Betty in Oregon

Organizing Cookbooks

All Cookbooks should be in the Kitchen organized by Topic. Microwave Cookbooks should be together, Crockpot/Slow cooker books together, etc. If you want to organize them by Authors, that's fine, but not necessary.

As for the other books, I agree: Topic, then alphabetized by Authors. (11/25/2004)

By Nelda Fairley

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Organizing BooksJuly 4, 2011
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