Do You Need A Bookcase Or A Bookshelf?


A book can bring you to places you may never be able to go to. It enriches knowledge, and it entertains. It is a faithful companion. Having lots of books is like keeping a bunch of treasures. However, you have to keep them somewhere to preserve them. If you leave them lying around or stocked in boxes, they can wear out faster. The question is, would it be in a bookcase or a bookshelf?

What is the difference?

Knowing the difference between a bookshelf and a bookcase may not be a big deal to some people. The terms are often used interchangeably, however, there are distinct differences between these two pieces of furniture. Understanding these differences may come in handy when the time comes that you need to buy one.

Here are further nuances between the two based on design, size, and mobility:




A bookcase is often referred to as a shelving unit by many furniture dealers. It stands on the floor. Usually, you will see them as three-part enclosed partitions both at the front and back, with multiple shelving layers. 

Modern designs may have a more open concept, with either no doors or none on both sides. They may have extra partitions with larger spaces for decorative stuff like vases or souvenirs. 


It is composed of multiple layers of shelves from the floor up to a certain height but is often high enough to cover a substantial wall portion. 


Although many bookcases are made of hardwood and are bulky, they can still be moved from one portion of the house to another since they are not permanently fixed. The downside is that, if not positioned well, it could trip. So you have to make sure that the feet are levelled and add additional support if necessary.




A bookshelf is a composition of one or more shelves. It may be wall-mounted or ladder-style. It is often affixed relatively high enough to keep things away from harm’s way, like playing children or wandering pets. Its design can add beauty to your interior as it can highlight a specific area of the house.


Compared to a bookcase, a bookshelf can be a bit smaller. Since it may only be a single shelf, you can position it easily around the house. It can be an additional compartment for your collection of books and other reading materials.


Since it is fixed or wall-mounted, you cannot do much about relocating a bookshelf once you have settled it. That is why you must position it right the first time. Being in a fixed location may be beneficial, especially in a bookshelf, since it prevents tipping, which can be dangerous if you have hard case books. 

Which one should you choose?

The choice between a bookshelf and a bookcase will be a matter of personal preference. You saw the differences above, and from there, you can determine the pros and cons based on your current situation.

For example, if you own your house, choosing a more permanent piece of furniture, like a bookshelf, will be beneficial. It provides more storage, it gives extra compartments, and it does not use too much space.

However, buying a bookshelf may be the better option if you are in a rental property since it is smaller and lighter if you need to move to another place. 

They can be used interchangeably more often than not. So it will not matter too much which you would prefer but how you will choose one from the many choices out there when it is time to purchase. 

Considerations when purchasing

Here are some things you might want to consider when deciding which bookshelf or bookcase to buy:


This piece of furniture can be made from different materials such as wood or metal. When choosing the material, you need to consider where you are going to install it. Check if it will blend well with the other pieces in that room. You do not want this to be an eyesore, going in contrast with all the other appliances around that room.


You also need to check if the bookshelf or bookcase is strong enough, especially if you intend to put a ton of books on them. Choose hardwood if you opt for wood. If it is metal, make sure that it is not prone to rust. Check all joints and corners to ensure that everything is properly put together.


It may have the right material and strength, but it will not be good enough if it does not fit well in your house. So when buying, it will help to measure the location where you intend to put your furniture. Give enough space for mobility or foot traffic and headroom, so you do not end up getting accidents around the house.


How much are you willing to spend on it? It is essential to know your limits so that you can pick the one that is within your range. There are many affordable bookshelves or bookcases around; however, often, they suffer in quality. 

Nevertheless, if you keep searching, you can find one with all you require at the most considerable price. One tip is to wait for stores to go on sale. Or you may go comparing prices between shops because there are instances where they sell the same items but at different prices. 

The Final Verdict

What is in a name? It may be a bookshelf or a bookcase. Many will not even know the difference between the two. But you do, and that can be an extra bragging right!

Seriously, though, no matter what you choose, the important thing is you pick the one that will give the best value. Check the material, durability, size and price. See if they pass your standards because, in the end, it is all about getting it right and ensuring it is a right fit for your home. 

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