How to organize a bookcase

This video is more fun than instructional, but I felt compelled to share the amusement. If only my books had magical powers and organized without any work on my part! Enjoy this video from Crazedadman:

via the wonderful SwissMiss

Posted by Erin on Feb 24, 2011 | Comments

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44 comments posted

  1. Posted by Debby - 02/24/2011

    Great video! My books aren’t quite so energetic.

  2. Posted by Mrs.G - 02/24/2011

    Color coding rules!

  3. Posted by Sergey - 02/24/2011

    “This video is not available in your country”. Copyright issues?

  4. Posted by Momma Yen - 02/24/2011

    LOL I love the little dragon who falls off the table! Very cool video! And I agree with Debby…my books are not as energetic!

  5. Posted by Jenn - 02/24/2011

    That’s just awesome! Thanks for making my day!

  6. Posted by fjordgrau - 02/24/2011

    Can’t see the Video in Germany spacer

  7. Posted by Sky - 02/24/2011

    Very cute!

  8. Posted by Erin Doland - 02/24/2011

    For the non-US folks, can you see it if you go directly to YouTube??

  9. Posted by AdrienneMay - 02/24/2011

    That is cool, but it makes my head hurt thinking of how much work that took from someone else! lol

  10. Posted by OogieM - 02/24/2011

    I already posted this comment over on the article at Real Simple but wanted to post it here too.

    That is the most stupid idea I’ve ever seen if you actually use and read your books!

    It may look really nice but it’s impossible to locate and find books when you need them. Especially if you have a house full like we do.

    I give this a total thumbs down.

  11. Posted by Mike - 02/24/2011

    I’m just surprised they went with such flimsy bookshelves. Books aren’t nick-nacks. Books have weight… if you have many books, lots of weight. You need a bookshelf with some substance to it. Many options exist, but in the inexpensive range I’ve found IKEA’s “Expedit” grid-like configurables to be excellent. My home has two 5×5, a 4×4, and two 4×2 Expedits in various rooms serving storage duty. Or if you don’t like ikea, go for something that fits your decor, but for crying out loud don’t go with only an inch of particle board or you’re begging for a collapse down the road (and good luck if you ever have to move).

  12. Posted by Paige - 02/24/2011

    OogieM, if you are talking about the idea of organizing books by color, I totally agree. Unless one has very few books (fewer than a couple of bookshelves, at the most) it would be chaos. It might be visually appealing but would be very user unfriendly. I, personally, organize by catagory.

  13. Posted by Judith - 02/24/2011

    @ Erin, no, we can’t. It doesn’t matter if the video is embedded in a website or if we try to watch on Youtube directly. Youtube checks the IP and blocks pretty much everything that uses music by Sony, Universal and other big music corporations.

    It used to actually say »This video uses music by corporation x and is not available in your country«, but they changed that about a month ago. Guess they want to avoid people knowing who it is that blocks them, so you can’t be pissed at them specifically.

    I realize that there are copyright issues, but it would do a lot more for the artists and the company if they put a link to the song on itunes there. I’ve seen that done frequently and have actually discovered songs I liked and then bought the music. No chance of that if just get a black curtain. And here in Germany we get blocked a lot.

  14. Posted by Re - 02/24/2011

    OogieM and Paige – I have a lot of books that I use frequently and I organize them by color. In my mind’s eye I can “see” the books and have no problem finding them. It takes all kinds!

  15. Posted by Wendy - 02/24/2011

    I moved a couple of weeks ago and I’m organizing our books by color and it’s changed how I relate to them. I held out cookbooks to start but now I’m mixing those in too. It’s actually pretty fun. And part of the fun in finding a book is the browsing.

    Right now I have about 2.5 bookcases of books and the very tall ones aren’t by color and are all on a bottom shelf together.

  16. Posted by xarcady - 02/24/2011

    About organizing by color–I think it depends on how you remember your books. Some people tend to remember titles more, some people remember the author more. If you tend to think of, “Oh, that red book by what’s-his-name” then organizing by color might be the best way to go.

    It’s certainly better than the look some catalogs use, where all the book spines are turned to the back of the bookcase so that only the edges of the pages show. (Which was actually the way some medieval libraries stored their books, but the page edges were gilded and the shiny gold showed up in the dark rooms.)

    My books are organized mostly by genre, then by when they were written, then by author. But there are places where that doesn’t work as well and I have a slightly different system. And as a PP points out, sometimes really tall books just don’t fit with the rest of them and need their own shelf.

    It’s about finding what works for the people who use the books.

  17. Posted by Sally - 02/24/2011

    I guess you could say I organize by size. I custom built a bookshelf because I have tons of paperbacks that I need to store and most bookshelves are just too big (too much space between shelves and too deep). I measured several sizes of books and built it accordingly. So now I have a bookcase that has a very tall, very deep shelf on the bottom for large books, like my art books and some of my cookbooks, and then there are a few medium shelves for small hardcovers and trade paperbacks, and then several small shallow shelves for paperbacks. It fits my needs well, though next time I am thinking of building one in a more “modular” way so that it can be arranged differently and broken down for moving!

  18. Posted by momof3 - 02/24/2011

    We have one large bookcase in our hallway, built in, floor to ceiling. Bottom two shelves hold all the kids books, sorted by topics: Titanic, animals (l;and/sea/air), plants, ocean, US History–founding fathers, all wars, outer space, biographies, etc.

    Two shelves will soon be devoted to the scrapbooks I have been working on, strictly chornological order for my family since we began as a couple, 1985 to present.

    The very top shelf, it’s self is 1 1/4 inch oak, contains all the oversize and other books that when the kids were little, were off limits.

    Being a little house fan, one shelf is only Laura Ingalls Wilder related. One shelf is for the paperbacks of my John Saul collection. One shelf has the kids Series of Unfor. Events and all Harry Potters in hard cover. One more shelf is the Besty/Tacy series and the Forgetten (?) series that my daughters really liked, in paperback.

    Then there’s my collection of books on the westward movement, and other books on the historic places we have travelled as a couple/family.

    How pray tell would I find anything if I were to sort those by color?

    I just like the fact that if the kids ever needed to do a report for school, even now in high school, we probably have a book or four on the subject. Between our books and the internet at home, reports were done quickly, and with illustrations, gleaned from our books.

    YES–I went almost broke buying lots of books from the book flyers and book fairs at the schools. All for a good cause. Next step, based upon my kids choice of careers post college, save for a future teacher or donate to the local grade school.

    Then what do I do with all those empty shelves??? I figure that out when I become an empty nester!!!

  19. Posted by Living the Balanced Life - 02/24/2011

    I organize by category and then by size within that shelf. But it has become much easier as I have weeded my collection of books lately!
    I loved the video, it was awesome!

  20. Posted by Pearl - 02/24/2011

    I spent a couple weeks organizing my books in Library of Congress order, only to find that it didn’t work for me (still prefer it to Dewey though) and now I simply organize them by category as I define it – for example, I have all of my books on India (including fiction, politics, cookbooks, history, language) together. LoC would have them mostly grouped separately but not always which drove me nuts. I would love to organize by color but would go insane after being unable to find anything.

    I too have an Expedit but it is not tall enough for a few of my tall books and that also drives me nuts…why yes I am obsessed with books, why do you ask?

  21. Posted by Kalani - 02/24/2011

    Yay I love books!

    I organize mine mostly by genre — Art & Architecture, relationships, religion & apologetics, science fiction, mystery, children’s classics, poetry, history of science, etc. Paperbacks (mostly science fiction and agatha christie) all have their own shelf, as do the pretty leather-bound classics, etc. So, partly by genre and partly by size/looks.

    Actually, I’ve been looking for a good “home library” program (preferably a free one?) so if anyone has recommendations that would be cool.

  22. Posted by Eitan - 02/24/2011

    I organize by type, then by size. I own a lot of “sefarim”, books of Jewish texts in the original language spanning about 2000 years of scholarship. These books are heavy and well bound, and run from brownish red to brownish black in color often with gold hilights on the binding. Also the sets are often large – 10 to 25 volumes. It means I have a couple of really good looking bookcases in the LR

    About Ikea shelves – a set of Billy bookshelves held up these books with no sagging for a few years, including one move. They are surprisingly strong for MDF.

  23. Posted by How to Save Money with Coupons - 02/24/2011

    Excellent video! Very cool.

  24. Posted by Leonie - 02/24/2011

    I laughed seeing this because it reminded me of my friend in Madrid. We were in a graduate program in economics. She had her textbooks arrangement according to subject on the shelf that ran the lenght of the room. She got really frustrated with her mother because her mother rearranged all her textbooks one day according to size. so all tall books were on one end and all short books were at the other. Her mom would say, “Pero hija….” in total bafflement when her daughter rearranged them back according to subject.

  25. Posted by jmk - 02/24/2011

    Love the book “credits” at the end!

  26. Posted by ShawnL - 02/24/2011

    That was like watching disk optimization softare run.

  27. Posted by Julia - 02/24/2011

    I love that there are people who have the time and energy to stuff like this.

  28. Posted by today i threw away - 02/24/2011

    my current favorite video…

  29. Posted by Joke - 02/24/2011

    Dear Europeans,
    I’m curious, even though the video is blocked, can you download it through ? That would be a possibility for seeing it maybe…

  30. Posted by aliskye - 02/24/2011

    The video is really cute, but I’m onboard with those who think by color is a silly way to organize books. I have one 15 foot wall covered with bookcases. I’d never find anything if I organized them by color.

  31. Posted by Daniel - 02/24/2011

    I’ve slowly purged my books to the point where the books I want to keep fits on a single shelf. It took years for me to realize that having books was less important than using the information within the books. I’m looking forward to the day that all books and magazines will be virtual.

  32. Posted by Another Deb - 02/25/2011

    All of my Geology books are arranged according to the Law of Superposition. The oldest is on the bottom of the pile.

  33. Posted by Bibliovore - 02/25/2011

    Cute and hugely time-consuming video. I, too, like the dragon. spacer

    I’ve got about 20 shelving units full of books, sorted by genre/category and then by author. I read them, loan them, re-read them, and use them for reference; I know exactly where each one is, though can still simply browse whenever I feel like it. If I sorted by color, I’d spend far too much time searching that I’d much rather spend reading or doing other things.

  34. Posted by Deb Shepherd - 02/25/2011

    I am a librarian and shared this with my co-workers in the slelving department — we are not sure if it is a dream or nightmare!

    If you don’t already know it, you might enjoy viewing

  35. Posted by OogieM - 02/25/2011

    I organize first into fiction vs non-fiction then by large category, then within that by detailed category and within that alphabetical by author. A lot of my books are not and will probably never be available in e-reader versions. Some it’s inappropriate to be electronic, charts, color illustrations and so on. A lot of the others are out of print or old.

    My current library of paper books is over 3,000 volumes so by category is the only way to locate and use the books.

    BTW my kindle library is at over 250 books.

  36. Posted by nycpakrat - 02/25/2011

    I love this! I just shared it on my FB.

  37. Posted by Amelia - 02/26/2011

    Whoa, I can only imagine how much time it must have taken the maker to create this vid… Oh my. Also, I have absolutely no trouble watching it even though I’m watching it from the Netherlands.
    On the sorting books by color: my mother once tried to do this to me. She also tried to get me to sort my books by height. Neither one of these methods works for me, I have too many books. In my dorm I have two 2×4 Expedits (I mean 2 x 4 holes) filled with my favorite books and my school books, arranged by topic (2 holes for my schoolbooks (they fit in the holes in double rows) and 2 for a specific non-fiction topic, etc.) and then by author (though I consistently fail to organize my schoolbooks like that, mostly because I use them throughout the day). At my parents’ I have an Ivar-system covering a 5meterx2.50meter wall filled with children’s fiction sorted by author’s last name and non-fiction sorted by topic and then by author’s name. This is the only system that works for me.

    As for keeping a library program on the computer, I just use a simple Excel worksheet. Works just as well.

  38. Posted by Green - 02/26/2011

    Wait a sec- folks, please tell me its possible to access unclutterer from all parts of the world? We have a move t outside US on the cards and want to take unclutterer along….

  39. Posted by Bryan - 02/27/2011

    Love that fact, that the dancing dragon wants to get into the action between 14-27, lol

  40. Posted by Rob - 02/27/2011

    The best thing about this video is the music. Rodrigo and Gabriela are an absolutely amazing guitar duo.

  41. Posted by The Other Jen - 02/27/2011

    @Green: Unclutterer is accessible from Toronto, and all spots in Southern Ontario that I’ve tried it from.

    In terms of organizing books: I use subject categories myself, but having visited several houses with NO books whatsoever, I’m not going to argue with anyone about how they organize their personal collection.

  42. Posted by Britty - 02/27/2011

    ROY-G-BIV! Ha!

    I love the book credits at the end!

  43. Posted by Julia1060 - 03/08/2011

    A house without books – can’t imagine it!
    As an academic by training, books are a part of my “woodwork”. As for bananas, I have none on my bookshelf currently. (nb, my favorite part of the animation).
    Books and whimsy should rub bindings often….

  44. Posted by Mary - 03/16/2011

    sorry but that was a total waste of time …

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