Bookshelves offer a tasteful solution to store and display not only books but also small plants, candles, photo frames, and other decorative objects. "Bookcases are unique in the way that they can both anchor a wall or fill a corner," says interior designer Maria DeLucia. "They often do double-duty by becoming room dividers, nightstands, or console tables."
With this in mind, we scoured dozens of retailers and evaluated hundreds of highly-rated, top-selling products to assess weight, capacity, style, and overall value.
Floyd The Shelving System
390-pound weight limit
Weeks-long wait on made-to-order items
There are a lot of great bookcases out there, as evidenced by this lengthy list of quality picks, but if we had to choose one, it would be the Floyd Shelving System. This customizable bookshelf is available in a range of sizes and configurations that you can tailor to suit your space and your storage needs. Choose from three tall options, three short and wide, a few short-tall combos, and even some specialized designs with angled shelves and cabinets on the bottom. And since it’s modular, you can always add to it or reconfigure it if your needs change.
It’s well designed, too. No matter which shelving system you opt for, the units have an impressive weight capacity of nearly 400 pounds—or about 65 pounds per shelf. It also has scratch-resistant, powder-coated steel shelves that come in a range of shades, including white, black, or forest green. The shelves are complemented by a plywood frame in either a light ash or deep walnut veneer.
If there’s any downside, it’s that it's on the pricier side for a bookcase, plus you have to assemble it all on your own.
Price at time of publish: From $575
Dimensions: Varies | Weight: 78 pounds | Material: Birch plywood, powder-coated steel | Shelves: Varies
Furinno Luder Bookcase
Not solid wood
Need something a little more affordable? There are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives outside of IKEA. Take the Furinno Luder Bookcase, for example. Though simple in design, the freestanding unit comes in several colors, from neutrals like white and French oak to vibrant shades of green and blue. It also comes in various sizes and configurations, ranging from two to five tiers, with the option to include cubby-style storage.
It’s not made of solid wood, so it only supports about 10 pounds per shelf, but as long as you don’t need it for a ton of heavy books, you’ll be happy with its overall functionality. The whole thing has a minimalist-modern appeal to complement most decor schemes—perfect for stashing a few books and other decorative trinkets without breaking the bank.
Price at time of publish: $44
Dimensions: Varies | Weight: 17 pounds | Material: Composite wood | Shelves: Varies
Lulu & Georgia Philene Bookcase
Arrives fully assembled
It may be pricey, but Lulu & Georgia's Philene Bookcase is undeniably beautiful. Complete with solid black acacia wood shelves and two rattan doors on the bottom, this bookcase is the ideal size and scale for most storage needs, plus is sturdy enough to hold plenty of heavy books.
Unlike some other bookshelves, this one comes fully assembled for convenience. Plus, you can order complementary pieces to complete an entire room, like a home office. Options are vast, including a desk, media console, filing cabinet, and more. Some of the pieces are even available in a more muted mango wood and cane.
Price at time of publish: $2,799
Dimensions: 90 x 38 x 17 inches | Weight: 159 pounds | Material: Mango wood, cane | Shelves: 6
Best for Small Spaces
Sauder Nova Loft 27 in. Grand Walnut End/Side Table
Not solid wood
Furnishing a smaller room? Try the Sauder Nova Loft 27 in. Grand Walnut End/Side Table. It’s stylish and practical, but won’t overwhelm a small footprint. Plus, it pulls double duty as both a side table and shelves for books and trinkets. There’s plenty of room for items like an accent lamp, a small speaker, or decorative plants. You could even fit organizing bins on the bottom shelf.
The looks skews industrial-modern, thanks to a powder-coated metal frame and particle board shelves with a walnut finish. Still, it’s transitional enough for most spaces. It’s also finished on all sides, so you can place it however you’d like—tuck it into a corner to preserve floor space, or float it next to a couch. Though we wish the Nova was made of solid wood, the manufacturer's five-year warranty will give you confidence in your purchase.
Price at time of publish: $153
Dimensions: 27.047 x 18.504 x 18.504 inches | Weight: 37.4 pounds | Material: Particlebaord, powder-coated metal | Shelves: 3
Pottery Barn Folsom 58" x 45" Console Bookcase
Solid kiln-dried wood
Fair Trade certified
You don’t have to go sky-high to get a bookcase with enough storage capacity to suit your needs. A storage console, like Pottery Barn's Folsom, will do the trick. This unit may be strikingly simple, but it has plenty of space. Each shelf has a capacity of over 100 pounds, for an astounding 400 pounds of total support.
It’s just as beautiful, too. The solid kiln-dried wood, which is spruced from responsibly managed forests, is hand-finished with a multi-step process. Choose from two shades—light desert or matte charcoal—then wait for your purchase to arrive via a white glove delivery service. Read: No assembly required.
Price at time of publish: $1,099
Dimensions: 58 x 45 x 14 inches | Weight: 91 pounds | Material: Spruce, pine, and fir wood | Shelves: 4
Crate & Barrel Fayette Corner Bookcase with Storage
Upper shelves aren't adjustable
A corner unit can transform an unused area of your home, while adding to functional storage space all at the same time. “A bookcase that has both open and closed storage can do double-duty and hold oversized items that don't fit in your file cabinet or desk," says DeLucia. We especially love the Fayette Bookcase from Crate & Barrel—a stunning storage solution that features 19-inch wedge-shaped shelves situated in a brass-finished metal frame, plus a double-doored base cabinet with internal shelves.
This combination of shelves and base cabinet is a huge bonus, since this affords you the opportunity to put some of your belongings on display and stash the ones you don’t want out. The only downside: Given the price, you’d expect the upper shelves to be adjustable. Instead, you’ll have to work within the framework of what’s already there. Still, the combination of the French art deco-inspired design and durable engineering makes this piece of furniture a great choice overall.
Price at time of publish: $999
Dimensions: 76 x 20 x 20 inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Metal, engineered wood | Shelves: 6
AllModern Innes 42.2'' Ladder Bookcase
Solid kiln-dried wood
High weight capacity
Tip-over restraint included
Full assembly required
If you gravitate towards more contemporary designs, you’ll fall in love with ladder-style units, like this one from AllModern. The Innes Bookcase is a Scandinavian-inspired piece of furniture that’s constructed with a black powder-coated steel frame and four contrasting kiln-dried wood shelves of varying depths.
The whole thing is unique in the way that it leans up against the wall for a clean, modern look. But it doesn’t lack the functionality of other bookcases—it can hold plenty of heavy books and whatever else you want to display. The different shelves have varying weight capacities—the smallest shelf has a 60-pound capacity, while the largest one can support up to 100 pounds.
If there’s any downside, it’s that full assembly is required. Plus, you should consider mounting the unit to your wall to prevent tipping, particularly if you have kids and pets.
Price at time of publish: $540
Dimensions: 72 x 42 x 18 inches | Weight: 48 pounds | Material: Wood, powder-coated steel | Shelves: 4
Best with Door
McGee & Co. Brookes Cabinet
Arrives fully assembled
What you first notice about this piece of furniture is just how beautiful it is. Made of iron and glass, this storage solution, which boasts a grand, rounded silhouette, has a glammed-up gothic vibe that works in spaces ranging from modern and industrial to traditional. It provides the perfect backdrop for displaying your favorite collections—perhaps milk glass or fine china—in a thoughtful, artistic way.
The unit weighs almost 250 pounds, so keep in mind it’s a very hefty piece of furniture. As such, you’ll pay a hefty shipping fee to get it. The good news: It arrives fully assembled with white-glove delivery. They’ll set it up exactly where you want it to go.
Price at time of publish: $2,500
Dimensions: 87 x 40 x 16 inches | Weight: 246 pounds | Material: Iron, glass | Shelves: 5
Best Solid Wood
Anthropologie Kalle Sculptural Oak Bookshelf
Two colors available
Anthropologie's Kalle Bookshelf is on the expensive side, but it’s an eye-catching piece of furniture with plenty of function. The unit is made of solid oak and comes in your choice of a natural finish or a matte black stain. Both finishes are sealed with a lacquer to keep shelves protected no matter what you put on them.
There’s a lot to love about the style overall. Since the bookshelf is made of real wood, it has natural variations in the texture that make each piece unique. It also has soft edges and varying cubby sizes that add to the minimalist appeal.
That said, it is one of the more expensive options on this list, and the flat rate shipping is rather expensive. On the upside, the shelf arrives via a white-glove delivery service to minimize any work you have to do in assembly or placement.
Price at time of publish: $1,298
Dimensions: 69 x 48 x 14 inches | Weight: 96 pounds | Material: Solid oak wood | Shelves: 5
Urban Outfitters Alana Bookshelf
Four colors available
The Alana Bookshelf from Urban Outfitters is a gorgeous piece of modern furniture with mid-century flair. The powder-coated metal unit is inspired by 1960s interior design, complete with curved lines and four shelves of varying sizes. It also comes in four chic shades: periwinkle, white, gold, and black.
And while this particular piece is the perfect medium size for a living room, hallway, or entryway, the company also manufactures a larger size that measures 66 x 30 x 18 inches. Either way, it’s worth noting that assembly is required, but it’s hard to complain about the simple process when the Alana comes at such a reasonable price point.
Price at time of publish: $349
Dimensions: 57 x 30 x 13 inches | Weight: 28 pounds | Material: Powder-coated metal | Shelves: 4
Best for Kids
Pottery Barn Kids Cameron Storage Bookcase
Solid kiln-dried wood
Anti-tip kit included
Pricey for kids' furniture
Shelves aren't adjustable
If you’re shopping for a kid’s room or a playroom, the Cameron Bookcase from Pottery Barn Kids is a fantastic choice. Unlike other options typically made for these spaces, this unit is made of solid kiln-dried poplar wood and MDF (medium-density fiberboard) and then finished with child-safe paint in either white or gray.
And while it’s not a very large unit overall, there’s plenty to suit the smaller members of your family. The unit has two shelves and two storage bins beneath—perfect for stashing books and toys, especially since these areas are easily accessible to younger kids, like toddlers.
The unit is also nice and safe, since it comes with an anti-tip kit and mounting hardware. You have choices when it comes to assembly, too. Do it yourself or opt for white-glove service to let Pottery Barn set it up for you in the room of your choice.
Price at time of publish: $449
Dimensions: 42 x 42 x 16 inches | Weight: 72 pounds | Material: Poplar wood, medium-density fiberboard | Shelves: 2
Afteroom for Design Within Reach Story Bookcase
Depth of shelves is small
For an undeniably cool design element that’s also functional, look to the HermanMiller Story Bookcase. When full of books, the steel and aluminum tower looks more like a work of art than a storage piece—it almost looks as though whatever you’re storing is floating in mid-air. Just note: The piece is better suited for smaller books, since the shelves can only hold a total of 7 pounds each, plus have relatively small depth.
Still, the unit is a great choice for smaller spaces, like apartment living rooms or home offices. It’s easy to tuck against a wall or into a corner, plus sits on a single square pedestal, so it hardly takes up any room at all.
Price at time of publish: $345
Dimensions: 62.5 x 15.75 x 15.75 inches | Weight: 43.5 pounds | Material: Steel, aluminum | Shelves: 10
Article Caliper Bookshelf
Article is widely known as having quality furniture at a moderate price point, and that’s exactly what you’ll get with their Caliper Bookshelf. The 63-pound freestanding unit is made mostly of solid beech, so it’s sturdy enough to hold everything from your books to stemware.
Still, it’s nice and slim, so you can tuck it right up against the wall wherever you decide to display it. The mid-century style suits any number of rooms, from the dining room or the kitchen to the living room or a home office.
Assembly is required, but it’s a simple process that won’t leave you frustrated. Plus, shipping is always free with Article—a big cost-saver when it comes to furniture.
Price at time of publish: $599
Dimensions: 75 x 47 x 16 inches | Weight: 63 pounds | Material: Solid Beech, engineered wood | Shelves: 4
Best for Home Library
Threshold 72" Carson 5 Shelf Bookcase
High weight capacity
If you’re going for a built-in look similar to what you might find in a home library, Threshold’s Carson is a great choice—at a much more affordable price point. Though it’s constructed mostly of plywood, MDF, and particle board, it’s a surprisingly sturdy piece of furniture. The unit can hold up to 325 in total. Perfect for lots and lots of heavy books.
It has a very traditionally stylish look, too. The five shelves have just a bit of molding at the top to elevate the piece, but this detail is subtle, not over-the-top ornate. Plus, you can choose from six different finishes to suit your space: white, black, espresso brown, rustic, gray, and walnut brown.
Like a lot of other bookcases, if there’s any downside, it’s that you’ll have to assemble the unit yourself.
Price at time of publish: $180
Dimensions: 72 x 30.6 x 13.6 inches | Weight: 59.4 pounds | Material: Painted Plywood, MDF, Particle Board | Shelves: 5
Best for Heavy Books
Ballard Designs Tuscan 3-Piece Bookcase Set
Lots of storage space
Can be used together or separate
When you really want to make a statement, opt for a heavy-duty piece of furniture—something grand made of real wood. This 3-piece set from Ballard Designs is exactly what we’re talking about. The unit is made from three individual bookshelves that go together seamlessly to create one large, multi-dimensional bookcase for all of your storage needs. When nestled into the right area of your home, it looks just like a custom built-in.
Just be aware: Though you’ll be ordering a piece of furniture meant to last, you’ll have to pay a hefty fee to get it shipped to you in the first place. Shipping may be as expensive as $350. On the bright side: Everything arrives fully assembled.
Price at time of publish: $2,307
Dimensions: 85 3/4 X 94 3/4 X 18 ¾ inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Solid wood, veneers | Shelves: 15
Best for Apartments
Room & Board Slim Bookcases
Natural distressing bothers some
Bookcases are great for apartments, since they offer vertical storage that helps you keep more in a small space. But instead of a big, bulky option, look for something with a slimmer profile—like the Room and Board bookcases aptly named “slim bookcases.” Made of recycled natural steel, these bookcases are sturdy and have wide shelves for plenty of storage, but are nice and petite to save on space.
They’re highly customizable, too. There are four size options—the largest is 42 inches wide, while the smallest is just 15 inches wide. They also pair well together, so you can line a whole wall with eye-catching bookcases if you want to. What’s more, the bookcases come in an impressive 17 colors, from your standard black or white to vibrant hues like orange or scarlett. Just note: Because the units are made from natural steel, there is inherent variation in the material. To some, this may look unnecessarily distressed.
Price at time of publish: $599
Dimensions: Varies | Weight: Varies | Material: Steel | Shelves: 4
Nathan James Theo Ladder Bookcase
This large storage piece doesn’t take up much space, because it mounts directly to the wall, leaving clearance on all sides, including between the floor and the unit. Still, it has six shelves so you can put your favorite books and decor pieces front and center. The laminate shelves contrast beautifully against the metal frame, making a real statement, no matter what’s tucked atop each shelf.
What’s also nice is that this wall-mounted bookcase is designed to be modular, so you can buy multiple and line them up one after the other for even more of a wow-moment in your living room or home office.
There’s not much to complain about, except assembly—the manufacturer says it takes about 40 minutes to get the job done.
Price at time of publish: From $190
Dimensions: 30 x 11.7 x 85 inches | Weight: Not listed | Material: Metal, laminate wood | Shelves: 6
Our number one pick is the Floyd Shelving System, a customizable, modular shelving unit with an expandable design and an impressive per-shelf weight limit. However, the Furinno Luder Bookcase is an excellent choice if you're on a budget, and it comes in several colors, sizes, and configurations.
What to Look for in a Bookcase
Because bookcases often have to support quite a bit of weight, it’s important to find one that’s made from strong and durable materials. Solid wood is usually the best option, but it can be quite expensive. More affordable options include metal, which is especially sturdy, and manufactured wood, which may have a lower weight capacity per shelf.
When comparing bookcases, look at their dimensions to ensure they’ll fit comfortably in your home. (You may also want to measure to ensure they’ll fit through doorways or tight staircases.) Other sizing considerations include how tall the shelves are, as well as if they can be adjusted. This is especially important if you’re planning to display tall books or oversized pieces of décor.
Books can be quite heavy. A one-foot row of average-sized books typically weighs around 20 pounds, so you should always check the weight capacity of bookcase shelves before purchasing. If you’re planning to display a full shelf of books, each shelf should be able to hold 50 pounds or more (depending on its width).
How tall should your bookcase be?
In general, you don't want your bookcase to be more than a total of 72 inches, or 6 feet, high. Otherwise, it makes it hard for the average individual to reach the top without a step stool. What’s more, you want to make sure the shelf height can accommodate what you plan to store. The ideal shelf height for books is anywhere between 10 and 12 inches.
What is the best material to make a bookcase out of?
Solid wood or metal is generally preferable, because these materials are more durable and, therefore, can hold more weight. That said, bookcases made from these materials are typically more expensive. If budget is your main concern, look for manufactured wood options, just know that it will affect overall weight capacity.
What’s the difference between a bookcase and a bookshelf?
The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between bookcases and bookshelves. A bookcase is generally thought of as a large, freestanding piece with several shelves for storing items, while a bookshelf is a more simple horizontal shelf. Because bookcases tend to be more sturdy, these units are ideal for a big collection of books. Bookshelves are usually smaller and lighter, so they’re better suited for decor items like a plant, candle, or other small items.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Brigitt Earley, a freelance writer with nearly 15 years of experience writing about consumer products, including furniture like bookcases. To curate this list, Earley scoured the most popular retailers to find the best, most highly-rated options. Then, she vetted each, reading all of the specs and hundreds of reviews. To make her top picks, she considered key attributes like style, construction, durability, size, and overall value.
Theresa Holland, a commerce writer specializing in home improvement, interior decor, and lifestyle, contributed additional research and reporting. She spoke with interior designer Maria DeLucia for insight on what to look for in a bookcase and the many functions that bookcases can serve.