8 Great Small Bookcase and Bookshelf Options

Need a small bookcase or shelf? We scoured merchants and put together this great list of 8 options that include bookcases, cube shelves, modular shelving and barrister bookcases.
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Photo of a small cube bookshelf


I’m more of a big bookcase guy myself.  I like them rising from floor to ceiling, but we actually have more small bookcases and shelves in our home than big ones.

There are two major benefits of small bookcases and shelves.  They are:

  • Fits under windows
  • Kids can access all books.

With young kids, we have a lot of kid books that take up several small/short shelves.  We also have plenty of windows so it’s nice to have storage options under those windows.

This article falls in our small furniture series.

A. Small Cube Bookcases and Bookshelves

1. Sauder Beginnings 3-Shelf Bookcase

3 shelf bookcase in highland oak finish with patented and slide-on moldings.This 3-shelf bookcase from Sauder holds an impressive amount of books for such a tiny bookrack. What you would normally want from any small bookcases and bookshelves is to either display your most prized possessions or have your favorite books on hand. Sauder Beginnings provides that and more in a small package.

The design is simple and the materials used are not exactly top of the line. Of course, this only makes it an affordable purchase. The back panel also spots the same highland oak veneer.

What it lacks in style the bookcase makes up for in utility. One of the three shelves is adjustable. This means that on at least one shelf you can place that huge encyclopedia that you’ve been dying to read. Just so it’s close to when the time comes.

The shelves are 11.25 inches deep, meaning they can fit two rows of books each. The back row is also a great hiding place that works almost like carving a pocket of books. The shelves are almost 35 inches wide, so you can use them to display quite the collection, while you hide the good stuff from sight.

The design is sturdy, but you might want to put it up against a wall just in case.

Buy at Amazon

2. ClosetMaid 9-Cube Unit Bookcase

Premium adjustable 9-cube unit bookcase in black walnut finish with laminated wood frame material.The 9-cube unit bookcase is one of the many small bookcases and bookshelves that are built from laminated wood. There’s not much science behind this choice. It is affordable, quite durable for small furniture and it looks stylish, with the right finish.

You have three shelves, each separated into three sections. The middle ones are adjustable. This lets you store different-sized books and it also lets you give the bookcase a less mundane look. Of course, this can be considered a drawback for someone with OCD, for one person’s meat is another person’s poison.

Surprisingly the entire unit only weighs 30lb. After you assemble it, you can move it around and try it out in different locations without much effort. Once you’re satisfied, you can put books and picture frames on the shelves. You can even fit storage bins in because why wouldn’t you add more storage to a storage unit?

Buy at Wayfair

3. Finley Home Hudson 6-Cube Bookcase

Modern 6-cube bookcase in espresso finish with interior honeycomb construction.

If your books tend to pick up a lot of dust, it’s ok. The Hudson 6-cube unit has an MDF and melamine surface which is easy to clean. A few wipes with a soft cloth and the espresso finish will look brand new.

This bookcase is about 30 inches tall. That isn’t a lot, but the width is considerable at 43 inches. Taking that into account, it barely makes it in the small bookcases and bookshelves category. While clearly not the tiniest of the lot, you do get plenty of storage space for your books.

With the popularity of eBooks rising, the Hudson 6-cube is probably enough to hold your entire hardcover collection. The espresso finish gives the bookcase a stylish and modern look. That being said, you are free to place it up against a wall or in the middle of the room.

Because it doesn’t have a back cover, you can put books up for display from two sides. The 11.6-inch depth of the shelves allows for two rows, so you can use different books on each side. You can rarely go wrong with a honeycomb shelf design, especially when there’s no flashy pattern to worry about on the edges or sides.

Buy at Hayneedle

B. Modular Bookcases and Bookshelves

1. Langria Modular Cube Shelving Rack

Modern metal wire multi-use bookcase with 16 regular cubes and can hold 44 lbs.Setting aside the fact the entire wire grid ensemble looks like your local pet store display, the 16-cube bookcase from Langria have massive storage space. Each cube holds up to 44 Lbs. What’s even more impressive is that they’re held together with just plastic connectors.

Rarely do small bookcases and bookshelves offer a 360-degree view of the items you keep in them. While some do come with open backs you rarely get a view from the sides. How that works in favor of the Langria bookcase depends on your choice of items to put on display.

The shelves each hold an impressive weight, but they are also quite spacious. Each one is 15.4 inches in width and depth and 14.6 inches in height. That’s enough room for books, purses, picture frames and your favorite sports memorabilia that’s not bigger than a basketball and a half.

It doesn’t look sturdy at first glance but the modular 16-cube rack from Langria is as good as any wooden or laminated model. In fact, it is quite better than some of them. Your cats can jump on shelves to push things off the edge without tipping over the entire bookcase. You decide if that’s good or bad.

Buy at Amazon

2. Belham Living Renata 6-Cube Quatrefoil Bookcase

6-cube bookcase with solid birch frame and open quatrefoil side design.Each compartment is 17 inches wide and 15 inches deep. That’s a lot of storage space considering how most small bookcases and bookshelves tend to have shelves in the 11-inch depth range. The shelves are also 12 inches high which means that you can use them to display more than just books.

Whether you stack up against your impressive mystery novel collections or you display your tablet with your eBook collection is up to you. Given the modern design of the bookcase, you can probably do both and make it work. There’s no reason why this unit can’t be used to keep some gadgets too.

The Renata 6-cube unit has a solid birch frame. It’s what makes it sturdy but also heavier than other models. All shelves have an opening at the back and the sides have an open quatrefoil pattern on them. Due to its durable design, you can easily put your TV on top and get even more use out of it.

This heavy bookcase may take you a while to assemble. The instructions are not the best, but the end result will make the process worthwhile. Considering you have your choice of black or white, you can fit this bookcase in any room and make it match most décor.

Buy at Hayneedle

C. Compact Barrister Bookcases and Bookshelves

I love the barrister bookcase.  Generally, they’re pretty big by nature so even though this article focuses on small bookcases, the barrister selections are fairly large.

1. Sauder Barrister Lane Bookcase

Laminated oak finish bookcase with cubbyhole storage and top shelf for gallery display.The whole point of having an open front on any small bookcases and bookshelves is to offer you easy access to books and a clear view. Since not everyone gives too much thought to arranging books, the Sauder Barrister Lane bookcase with ID label tags can provide some assistance in that regard.

The label tags make it easy to categorize your books by genre. That way not only do you find the right book for your mood faster, you can also better judge what section needs some new additions. Of course, you can use the bookcase to display other items as well. If you’re not a fan of romance novels, feel free to add a couple’s picture frame in the empty space.

There are eight cubic shelves and two large bottom shelves at your disposal. The bookcase is sectioned into three equal parts which make the bottom two shelves better suited for larger items. This choice in design also makes the bookshelf look more appealing.

Make no mistake; it won’t be a fast assembly process. The Sauder Barrister Lane bookcase weighs 102lb so it’s best if you are absolutely sure about its placement before fitting the pieces together. The unit is 53 inches wide, 12 inches in depth and 47.5 inches in height. Double check your measurements before you turn into Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Buy at Amazon

2. Weaver Furniture Barrister Bookcase

Traditional bookcase with glass doors and hardwood build.

The barrister bookcase from Weaver Furniture can make other units seem like really small bookcases and bookshelves. The reason behind this is the choice you have on the number of stackable shelves. You can have a minimum of two which brings the unit’s height to 34 inches or you can go up to five shelves. That puts the unit at 76 inches in height.

Does it still earn a spot on the list of small bookcases and bookshelves to keep an eye out for? It does because, despite its maximum height, the entire unit is only 36 inches wide. The shelves are around 11 inches deep and that is the average for small bookcases.

Unlike most units that come with an open front, this bookcase features a glass door on each shelf in the fashion of classic barrister bookcases. It provides an unobstructed view while also adding an extra layer of protection. The choice of glass is varied so you can pick whichever pleases you most, or whichever one fits your budget.

The Weaver Furniture barrister bookcase is even more customizable. Aside from choosing the glass and preferred height, you also get to pick from a wide range of finishes. You can even order it unfinished if you want to customize it yourself and have something to brag about to guests.

This is a great fit for tight places. Apart from it taking a while to assemble, there’s hardly a feature that works against the design. The customization factor makes the Weaver Furniture barrister bookcase a good choice for any living room, dining room or office space.

Buy at Houzz

3. Sauder 414725 Barrister Lane Bookcase

Laminated wood bookcase with scribed oak finish and cubbyhole storage.Sauder’s line of small bookcases and bookshelves can reach even greater heights. This model stack shelves up to 75 inches. The design features 10 equal shelves stacked in two columns. Each shelf has its own label tag for sorting purposes. If you only have one item on a shelf you can write up a small description on the label too.

The scribed oak finish gives the bookcase a nice vintage look. The color is well balanced but works best in a brighter room. You can use it as a single unit or get two and pair them with Sauder’s 8-shelf barrister lane bookcase. That way you can start out small and build yourself a bigger bookcase in time.

The unit has a closed back which matches the exterior scribed oak finish. Because of this, it is best if you place it against the wall. The 11.5-inch deep shelves can either fit two rows of paperback books or just one at the edge with enough room for a soft lighting source in the back. You will have to provide your own lighting but it will make the bookcase stand out even more.

This laminated bookcase can be a good starting point as you expand your collection. It takes a while to assemble but the experience you get will make the next one feel like a walk in the park. The metal label holders are a nice touch and they let you switch labels anytime you want.

Buy at Amazon

D. Conclusion

Small bookcases and bookshelves don’t have to be a plain storage unit. They also don’t have to be made out of expensive materials and super heavy wood. The idea is to have a unit that doesn’t take up half of your wall and five hours to put together.

You also shouldn’t limit your imagination to just books when you think of these units. They are utility furniture pieces, but they can also add to the décor. You can find them in low and wide designs or high and slim designs. Some have closed backs and some of them are open on all sides. It’s that type of versatility that allows them access to small rooms or already heavily decorated rooms.

Whether you decide to mix and match books with toys, gadgets or memorabilia is up to you. What is important is taking the correct measurements in the room before you order a unit. Since some of these small bookcases are quite heavy and come with modules, they will take time to assemble and won’t be easy to relocate once finished.









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