I hesitate to even answer this question.  

Several people have asked about accessorizing/organizing book shelves.  The reason I hesitate when answering this question is because there isn't a right or wrong but lots of opinions.  So I'm going to tell you how I approach it.  Now, I love a great book.  I've had a library for over 10 years now.  So the first thing to determine is what kind of book shelf you have.  Decorative or functional or a bit of both.  I'm going to address the "both".  If you're strictly a functional person, I'd advise the Dewey Decimal System.

1.  Decorative, Functional or both?

2.  Consider painting or adding wall paper to the backs of the bookcases.

3.  Okay, I know this is going to be controversial, but I take the jackets off the books. The exception is if I'm doing a one color library and then I cover them all in creamy parchment.  This is usually complemented with a patterned wallpaper in the backs of the shelves or a strongly painted color.  This is drama and clearly isn't for everyone.

4.  I like to then sort the books by color, topic, and size.  If you have a collection by one author, you may want to keep those together. I try and keep authors together but will split them if the colors are drastically different.  This might not be an option for some.  I get that, this is just a guideline and not in stone. 

5.  I prefer to display hardbound and put paperbacks in decorative storage or behind doors.

6.  If you have magazines its great to get color coordinated magazine holders for displaying those.

7.  Display oversize books horizontally.

8.  Add meaningful objects or art. Edit them to one item per section.  You don't want it to look like a collectors cabinet.

Here's a pic of mine–your comments are welcome…


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