Need cheap book shelving solution- lots of it!

So I have LOADS of books - and I mean LOADS! They have been relegated to cupboards and boxes because I don't have many bookshelves... see photo, attached! Well, I'm fed up and want to put them on shelves where they belong, but everything I've seen is so expensive! I've tried IKEA, ebay, Gumtree, local and national retailers, even charity shops. There must be a cheaper way that I can do this... anyone got any good solutions for DIYing bookshelves that works? I have very little woodworking capability :)
Any help or ideas gratefully received
Thanks in advance
q cheap book shelving solutions, diy, how to, shelving ideas, storage ideas, woodworking projects
  25 answers
  • Z Z on Jan 12, 2015
    What is your budget?

  • Lee Cunningham Green Lee Cunningham Green on Jan 12, 2015
    there is a great way to make shelving if you don't have lots of money and are not savy with carpentry, using old drawers! yes on junk day just drive around and find those old dressers being tossed out, you get a box type shelf with little effort and much more pleasant results then you are currently having, You could also use pallets, it involves a bit more work but the wood is cheap and sometimes free, I think it is time to go though those books as well, if you have duplicates that you don't need or you don't feel you will read them again, donate some of them to a library, so you can enjoy your books instead of wrestling to get that one in the back of the cabinet. I am a reader too and I appreciate how very dear a book is. Being able to look at them gives a great deal of pleasure. Good Luck.

  • Patti Patti on Jan 12, 2015
    I googled how to build a cheap bookshelf and this link is one that came up...lots of ideas to get your imagination going and that was just one of many links.

  • Carole Carole on Jan 12, 2015
    Book cases go for peanuts on Craigslist or ebay. Lots of people don't keep books these days and are getting rid of their book shelves. Check it out, you might pick up something for say below 20 bucks. If you have any sites like freecycle you can check there too. Sometimes people want to get rid of stuff when they move house and give stuff away - literally. If you Google on 'free stuff' that can be the start of your search. Of course, getting the thing home is another matter. Don't buy anything that won't fit in your vehicle as the delivery costs can be more than the item is worth.

  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Jan 12, 2015
    @Karen Bailey At home depot, walmart etc. you can pick up brackets with a board inexpensively, or just the brackets then have a piece of wood cut to the length you need. I did this in our shed for storage. As for the books it is time to go through them, the ones you don't want anymore you could go to a secondhand bookstore and perhaps get some money for them. Also meant to mention that many do throw dressers to the curb for people to take away. If you took the drawers out as mentioned above you could also use the cabinet as a bookshelf by putting wood or glass down for the shelf. Can even take a drawer support out to allow for taller books. Have done this with a few roadside rescues.

  • Eileen Eileen on Jan 12, 2015
    Remove the doors from this cabinet, paint it inside and out, buy adjustable shelving, and voila, an open bookcase! You could then use doors as shelves elsewhere by laying them across supports, i.e, concrete block, old crates, or anything substantial enough to hold weight.

  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Jan 13, 2015
    I too am a book worm. But when I ran out of space, I started giving books away that I actually did not want to read again. Think of senior centers, Salvation Army, Goodwill and other charity centers. I have found that some libraries do not accept used books anymore because it is time-prohibitive for them. As with any organizational project, make three piles: the ones you want to keep, the ones you want to give away and the ones you really need to throw out. Then maybe the task will be more manageable. Organize by subject or alphabetical. I love the idea of making shelves out of ladders. Lee Cunningham Green, Gail and Carole have great suggestions. Good luck. I hope you post pictures when done. PS - I don't buy books anymore; but I am known at the local library by my first name. It's a home way from home.

  • Cathey DeRosa Cathey DeRosa on Jan 13, 2015
    I get just about all my furniture, including bookshelves at thrift stores. Go on 1/2 off days or watch for 1/2 off sticker colors and go for it. I have a limited budget and no construction abilities, either. Have fun. I love those places. Just about furnished my whole apartment with thrift store, garage sales and sitting on the curb goodies. Good luck. It doesn't have to be fancy. Esp. when everything now is distressed and made to look that way. I tend to paint many of my finds, but not always. It's up to you.

  • Linda Hunt Linda Hunt on Jan 13, 2015
    If you enjoy the beauty nature provides, using planks with beautifully shaped limbs at the height you wish your shelves to be is gorgeous with a bit of thought and minor work. I also listened to the wisdom of an elder and now finally keep my books down to 100 keepers. Very hard to do at first then I caught on and realized she was right. Donating to shelters, used goods charities etc. for those who cannot afford the joy of books makes one's heart warm and fuzzy too lol. Win win all around as textbooks can be passed onto students in need. Small town libraries appreciate the donations for their fund raising too.

  • Rita Caldwell Rita Caldwell on Jan 13, 2015
    Check Pinterest!! It's my go-to for everything!

  • Carolyn Carolyn on Jan 13, 2015
    pinterest is my go-to-source; even ladder bookshelves if you want to free that closet and have room to display books on a wall; just do a search there or on this site, also

  • Jo Ann Miller Jo Ann Miller on Jan 13, 2015
    Use your books for decor. Make stacks using same colors or sizes or graduated arrangements on the floor by the wall. Neat stacks can be very eye-appealing. Make them as tall as will stack safely or short stack for very large books. You can also stack on a table or console. Make it pretty! Good luck!

  • Linda B Linda B on Jan 13, 2015
    Believe it or not, the bookcases we made "way back when" -- using cinderblocks and wood planks -- are coming back into style. I saw some recently in a really nice magazine. You can buy decorative blocks, or you can spray paint the blocks (cover them in fabric if you'd like to be fancy). They're infinitely flexible and just about as cheap as anything you'll find anywhere.

  • Colleen Colleen on Jan 13, 2015
    I have seen them stacked to make a table & then you can top it with a piece of wood or glass. Viola, you've got yourself a nice end table. Place a lamp on it or even a few of your books.

  • Carol Carol on Jan 13, 2015
    Check thrift store or craigslist for book shelves or lumber to make your own, you can make a unit to frame your bed or sofa. You can paint mismatched book case all one color to bring unity to the project. Book shelves need only to be about 8" deep. Or you can also check Pinterest for pallet bookcase projects. Check the newspaper and Craigslist for free pallets. Book cases can be painted and stenciled or covered in wallpaper or cloth.

  • Lindcurt Lindcurt on Jan 13, 2015
    I too had the cinder block and 1x12 pine board sbookshelves back in the 70"s. You can use most anything between the wood. I say some really classy ones on Pinterest that had large tin coffee cans wrapped with jute rope. The ones I had in the 70's were not so classy. But worked just the same.

  • Darla DeMorrow Darla DeMorrow on Jan 13, 2015
    You might like this idea using old shutters that I found at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. We made a bench for the end of the bed from books (we wrapped them in craft paper, but you don't have to) and shutters.

    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Jan 13, 2015
      @Darla DeMorrow wow what a cool idea to make a bookshelf from books. Love it, thanks for sharing.

  • Suzanne Melton Suzanne Melton on Jan 14, 2015
    Last year, I saw that an estate sale two counties away was selling a bunch (eight) of seven-foot teak bookcases. We drove up and slept in the cube van the night before (Walmart parking lot). When we got in, we were disappointed to see that the estate company was asking $300 EACH. And it was teak VENEER! However, they were taking bids. I bid $40 each and said I wanted all of them. The next day, they called and said come and get 'em! My guess is that, even if some bidders had bid more than $40, they probably wanted only one or two and the estate company could sell all of them to one Just another experience...

  • Stacy | BlakeHillHouse Stacy | BlakeHillHouse on Jan 14, 2015
    I was going to suggest cinder blocks and planks too. :) We had them when I was a kid (I'm mid-century modern now! LOL), and I made a set for my son for his large reptile enclosure. Also, are you open to reducing your collection a bit? I bet there is an organization out there that would love to have some new reading material.

  • Kathy Kathy on Jan 14, 2015
    Why not pick up some moving boxes at the hardware store, fold the flaps inside and stand the books with their bindings showing. You can then stand them on their sides and stack them either on top of each other or pyramid style for interest. If you don't like the bare boxes, you could cover them with craft or wrapping paper.

  • Martha Grice Martha Grice on Jan 14, 2015
    The cinder block and coffee can with jute is still a good idea even today if you like the casual look. If you want to go more formal try using glass blocks (they come in many styles from very plain to downright fancy. You could also try wood corbels. They come in many shapes and sizes, an be stained, left plain or painted any color to compliment your décor and you have a wonderful unique piece that mirrors your own personality. The shelves can be fashioned from plain wood planks to fancy edges with a router (that is very easy if you have a steady hand) or you could go plexi-glass or glass top with the option of using plain rectangular glass or springing for the (cheap, usually less than $10 each) round table top you can purchase at any department store. The choices are many and varied and take little wood working skill. Don't be afraid the try new things, you'd be surprised how many wonderful items you are able to make on the cheap and with little elbow grease. Good luck on your choices and let us know what you decide. (I too am a book lover and find it impossible to confine myself to a mere 100, lol.)

  • CK CK on Jan 14, 2015
    Of course the old college board and brick look can work ;-) You can paint both the boards and the bricks any color you desire and it'll look great. You can make them any length you want. Stores like Lowe's and Home Depot will probably even cut the boards to length for you. Make sure you measure your space where any bookshelf will go. There's nothing like getting a great deal only to bring it home and find it doesn't fit :-(

  • Ashley Mann Ashley Mann on Jan 15, 2015
    Pallets can usually be obtained for could try something like this:

  • Diane Fairbanks Diane Fairbanks on Jan 16, 2015
    I bought dozens of 5 x 6 inch white metal shelf brackets at D Lawless, and lots of 1 x 6 x 8 boards, which I primed and painted white. After measuring carefully, and finding studs to screw the brackets into, I made floor to ceiling shelving in my family room, about 350 lineal feet, for $200. I am not much of a woodworker, but IMHO they turned out well, and house several thousand books; I did put the brackets every 30 inches apart so they are pretty sturdy!

  • OnBlissStreet OnBlissStreet on Jan 16, 2015
    Here is a link to one of my posts for super cheap shelving that is lovely too. You can have the guys at the lumber yard cut the wood for you and all you have to do is put it together.