How Wide Are Bookshelves?

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Sep 21, 2022

In any office space, storage is important. Whether you’re using bookshelves for book collection, filing, or knick-knacks, you need to know the right bookshelf width to fit into your home office.

Standard bookshelf width is 31 inches and roughly 12 inches deep. However, it’s not uncommon for bookshelves to be built 36 inches wide. Keep in mind bookshelves come in many different shapes and sizes. Bookshelves can be tall and narrow or short and wide. Your spatial and storage needs will determine your ideal bookshelf width. 

Many bookshelves today have adjustable shelves that give users the freedom to add or remove shelving to suit their design preferences. Read on to learn about different bookshelf options and their dimensions.

Real quick: before we get too far along here, if you want to get more great ideas for your gaming room or home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

How Wide Should Bookshelves Be?Books on Rack

There are all kinds of bookshelves on the market. However, most people purchase bookshelves that are relatively the same size and shape, no matter where they come from.

Bookshelf StyleStandard WidthStandard HeightStandard Depth
Two-Shelf Bookcase31 inches32 inches12-13 inches
Three-Shelf Bookcase30-36 inches41-48 inches12-13 inches
Four-Shelf Bookcase24-45 inches54 inches12-15 inches
Five-Shelf Bookcase31-37 inches72-77 inches12-13 inches

The truth is, though, that there are all kinds of bookshelves that don’t fit into one of the five aforementioned bookshelf dimensions.

For example, if you work in a cramped space and don’t have an entire wall to dedicate to a tall bookcase, you can stack multiple small bookcases on top of one another.

Additionally, you might have large binders or filing boxes that don’t fit between the shelves of a typical bookshelf. In this case, you’ll need to find bookcases with deeper shelves or more distance between shelves.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of bookshelves to choose from.

Cube Bookshelf 3 Tier Mid-Century Modern Bookcase with Legs,Retro Wood Bookshelves Storage Organizer Shelf,Free Standing Open Book Shelves,Rustic Brown Display Bookcases for Bedroom,Living Room,Office

  • 【Vibrant Mid-Century Modern Bookshelf】 The 3 tier bookshelf is brought to life by a special mysterious brown and crisscross partition design. The unique appearance allows you to enjoy both retro and modern styles. Reshape your storage space with LEYAOYAO’s charming vintage brown modern cube bookshelves, making your home/office/school more elegant and stylish.

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LEYAOYAO 3-Tier Bookshelf Mid-Century Modern Cube Bookcase with Legs: 7 shelves, 31.5″ W x 9.45″ D x 43.31″ H

Signature Design by Ashley Trinell Rustic Entertainment Center Pier Bookcase with 3 Adjustable Shelves, Natural Brown

  • ENTERTAINMENT CENTER PIER: Elevate your TV time with the Trinell Pier Featuring a warm, rustic plank finish with replicated oak grain and open shelving, it’s sure to make a modern farmhouse style statement in your home
  • RUSTIC STORAGE OPTION: Combine with matching entertainment stand and bridge to create a beautiful enterainment center or use as a bookcase or storage cabinet

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OneSpace Essentials 5-Tier Bookshelf: 5 shelves, 27.5″ W x 11.4″ D x 68.9″ H

VASAGLE Bookcase, Zigzag Bookshelf, Storage Cabinet Unit with Open Closed Shelf, for Study, Living Room, Bedroom, Rustic Brown ULBC141X01

  • The Story Is About…the meeting between rustic brown and zigzag designs and…zowie! A chic rustic bookcase with 4 asymmetrical levels was born! It’s the favorite tale of book lovers looking for a chic reading corner!
  • The Scenario Begins…in your living room, office, or bedroom? It doesn’t matter where…for even better word appreciation on rainy days, place this bookshelf near a light source. Grab a warm cup and let yourself be carried away!

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VASAGLE Zigzag Open-Closed Bookshelf: 4 compartments, 23.6″ W x 9.4″ D x 50″ H

Signature Design by Ashley Trinell Rustic Entertainment Center Pier Bookcase with 3 Adjustable Shelves, Natural Brown

  • ENTERTAINMENT CENTER PIER: Elevate your TV time with the Trinell Pier Featuring a warm, rustic plank finish with replicated oak grain and open shelving, it’s sure to make a modern farmhouse style statement in your home
  • RUSTIC STORAGE OPTION: Combine with matching entertainment stand and bridge to create a beautiful enterainment center or use as a bookcase or storage cabinet

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Best Buy

Ashley Trinell Signature Design Entertainment Center Pier Bookcase: 3 adjustable shelves, 17.75″ W x 12″ D x 72″ H

Sauder Barrister Lane Bookcase, Salt Oak finish

  • Cubbyhole storage for books binders framed photos collectibles and more
  • Accommodates ID label tags for easy organization

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Sauder Barrister Lane Bookcase: 10 compartments, 53.18″ W x 12.13″ D x 47.5″ H

Standard Dimensions for Built-In Home Office Bookshelf

Brown Wooden Organizer

Those who work out of a dedicated home office usually can take advantage of a built-in bookcase or two for their storage needs. The standard dimensions for an ever-useful built-in bookcase are as follows:

  • Width: Depends on available wall space
  • Height: 84 inches or lower for ease of access
  • Depth: 10 to 12 inches deep
  • Shelf-Spacing: 8 to 12 inches between shelves

When designing built-in home office bookcases and shelving, you should keep in mind your specific storage needs. For example, if you have several large binders that you know you will store, ensure you leave enough space between each shelf to accommodate the height of the binders.

Different Uses for Bookshelves

Vintage furniture with empty frame and blank screen of netbook in light room

Bookshelves have many different uses. The name “bookshelf” indicates their main purpose: holding books. However, any bibliophile knows that books can come in all shapes and sizes.

For a bookshelf to act as a proper display space for books, it needs to be able to bear the heavy load of heavy books, larger books, and all the small books in between.

However, a bookshelf isn’t just about books. As a piece of furniture, a bookshelf is very useful for storing and displaying all kinds of things from decorative objects to bulky board games.

A bookshelf with the right dimensions can solve all kinds of organizational needs, especially those of the home office variety.

How to Strengthen a Bookshelf

Books on Shelf

If you keep filling your bookcase with books and files, eventually it can weigh hundreds or even thousands of pounds. If your bookshelf is solid wood, it’s going to be even heavier. If you have tall items in your home or office (or home office!) that weigh this much, you need to reinforce their strength to ensure you avoid hazardous situations.

The dimensions of a bookshelf have a great deal to do with how strong it is. Additionally, you can take steps to strengthen your bookshelf to take on extra storage and bear heavier loads.

How to Avoid Bookshelf Sagging

Sagging bookshelves are a common issue. Once you pack too many items onto a shelf, eventually the shelf will begin to dip in the middle due to the weight.

You have a few options for reinforcing sagging shelves. First, remove everything from the shelves so they are empty.

  • You can insert vertical supports underneath the center of each shelf.
  • You can screw an additional strip of solid wood underneath each shelf.
  • Remove the insides of unwanted books and insert wood panels into them vertically that will support the shelf above like Family Handyman does here.

Anchoring a Bookshelf to a Wall

When using a tall bookshelf, you should always anchor it to the wall. Do this whether your bookshelf is solid wood or cheap plastic.

A falling bookshelf can be extremely dangerous, especially if it is full of heavy books and materials. An earthquake or any number of random incidents can send a tall bookcase toppling over.

Robert David Orr

I'm a remote working from home veteran of more than 10 years. When it comes to working life from a home office, you can bet that I've been there and done that.I've spent years figuring out what works and what doesn't when it comes to working from home - from the types of desks and chairs that are the best and most comfortable, to the types of technology, and even getting the atmosphere right with the best decorations you need to be your best when it comes to working from home. I've experimented with just about everything you can think of when it comes to getting the most out of my home office, how to work from home without going crazy, and found solutions to the numerous challenges that those of us who work from home run into in this life.

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