Maximizing Book Storage

Category Books

Can you make more space for books by using flat stacks instead of upright rows?

By Partha


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January 21, 20120 found this helpful

The answer will depend on the height of the shelves, the size of the books, and whether or not you want the titles on the spines to show. Your best bet is just to try a shelf and see!

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January 23, 20120 found this helpful

It's been my experience that while, yes, you can get more books on a shelf stacked flat, it will drive you mad if you need to get at any of them!

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January 23, 20120 found this helpful

As a librarian, I can tell you - yes it'll save space. However, I'll also mention that I hope none of the books you're stacking that way will be valuable. When books are stored that way (and we've found through sad experience), they can become slightly warped or (pity the poor books on the bottom) the pressure can damage the spines/covers of the books.


And, as someone has mentioned, access is a problem (and can cause damage if you're not careful when you remove a lower in the pile book).

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January 23, 20120 found this helpful

As a librarian, I can say that books are meant to stand up, and that the most efficient way to shelve books is by standing them upright, and using adjustable shelves, so that you can shelve the books according to height. You will find that books generally fall into 3 or 4 general groups by height, such as paperbacks, the average novel or best-seller, textbook size (11" tall), and oversize.

You should adjust the shelves so that you can shelve books of the same height together. Stacking them is never good for books, as I also found from sad experience that larger books warp from the weight of books piled on top of them, and you can indeed rip the spine or the cover trying to pull out the bottom books from a flat stack.


Save a bottom shelf for the oversize group, which can vary widely in height (or width). Don't pack any shelf so tight that you can't get your fingers between any two to pull one out; if you have to pull on the top edge of the spine to pull the book out, you will ruin the binding. If there is room at the end of a shelf and the books fall over instead of standing up, then put a bookend at the end until you fill the shelf up.

One exception to the rule are the heavy, textbook size spiral bound books, which flop all over no matter how you stand them up; I have better luck with those stacked flat. (In my opinion those books are a nuisance and should be bound the normal way, but this is how they are produced.) A stack of these could be your bookend at the end of a shelf of normal books, which would be efficient use of the space.

If you have a number of really little books, 5" high or less, the best thing to do with them is stand them up in a shoebox sized box, which then goes on a shelf. It really doesn't work to try to inter-shelve them with other books, as they tend to squirt to the back of the shelf and get lost.

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July 21, 20120 found this helpful

It will save space to flat stack as you call it, if all the books in the stack are approx. the same height and are short. If books are short storing them by upright positions will waste the spaces between them and the next shelf up; by flat stacking them you will be using all that space or most of it if the stack rises close to the top of the shelf so you will want nearly a full stack to really save much space.


You will also want to stack them next to at least one tall book that the stack can neatly rest next to without toppling the whole pile when pulling from the books.

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