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Organizing Books

Updated on March 22, 2015

Is your love of books overwhelming your home, leaving no space for you and your family? Do you have books in every room of the house? Are your bookshelves overflowing and buckling under the weight of all those books that you cannot possibly part with? Do you accumulate books, collect them, love them and treasure them, but are simply running out of space to store them? Do you daydream about perfectly organizing you books?

Even if your book collecting habits aren’t completely out of control, you can still benefit from learning to organize your shelves.

Here are your options for organizing books:

Buy new bookshelves or weed through your collection and get rid of what you never use. You can give them to a charity like Goodwill , donate them to your local library or sell them on Amazon .

Then, you can focus on organizing your favorites in a manner that will help you find what you need in a hurry and look attractive.

Place a nice chair in view of your bookcase and you will be able to sit back and enjoy the view of your beautiful, clean, perfectly lovely collection of books.

Organizing books can be part of your book collecting hobby.
Organizing books can be part of your book collecting hobby.

Organizing Books: Tips

Organizing books will make them easier to find what you are looking for.
Organizing books will make them easier to find what you are looking for.

Getting Started with Organizing Books

Sort through all of your books and separate them into three piles; to donate, to sell, to keep. Be tough here, unless you plan to just purchase some additional bookshelves to store all the books that you simply cannot part with.

Books to sell, books to donate:

  • Check prices on Amazon for old college textbooks. See link below for information on how to sell on Amazon. Certain books may be worth selling. For example, upper level course books in science and math. Psych 101 and other course books that everyone uses will not likely be of any value. Law books change regularly, so they will have to go into the donation pile!
  • Hobby books that you are no longer interested in may also bring in a good price, as well as some cookbooks. Specialty cookbooks are the most valuable, microwave cookbooks should be donated!

  • Check the prices on special interest books (parenting, sleep disorders, health related non fiction) and fiction by lesser-known authors. As a rule, nonfiction sells better than fiction in the used book market.
  • Bestsellers (unless they are still on the current bestseller list) will probably not be worth listing on Amazon, as the market is likely flooded. These are good to donate, especially if you do not plan to read them again.

Now, organize your books into categories such as fiction, nonfiction, children’s, reference or chose your own more specific categories like history, romance and science fiction. Organize all nonfiction books by subject, for example, gardening, parenting, and home improvement.

  • Creating categories will make it easy to find what your looking for and easy to return the book to its proper place when you are done with it.
  • Separate children’s books by age, reading levels, picture books, and board books.
  • If you are still lacking space, you can stack some of the books horizontally. I suggest only doing this with books you don’t use often, as they are more difficult to find and access this way.

Organizing books keeps them from unnecessary wear and tear.
Organizing books keeps them from unnecessary wear and tear.

Organizing Books: Cataloging

If you have an extensive collection, you may want to consider using a library cataloging software, or consider cataloging them online at, where you can enter up to 200 books for free. Any additional books will cost a small fee. Over 23 millions books are cataloged through Library Thing, which aims to make book cataloging a fun social hobby by allowing you to make friends and share your favorites with others who enjoy the same genres or authors.

Need help organizing children's books?

Staying Organized

Once you have your shelves organized, make an effort to maintain it. Don't go back to your old habits of stacking a loose book sideways across the shelf until you have time to straighten. It only takes a minute to put it back where it belongs! If you have kids in your home, teach them how to put away their books carefully, so they won't be damaged.

If you are always bringing in new books to add to your collection, sort through the old books every six months to make space for the new. Reorganize when needed!


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    • misslong123 profile image

      Michele Kelsey 

      5 years ago from Edmond, Oklahoma

      I like your advice on weeding out books you don't use. You can donate them to your local library too. I'm trying to go thru my books and plan to sell them in a garage sale. Most of my textbooks are too old to sell, but if you are interested in selling textbooks, I have a Hubpage on selling your textbooks. Some sites are better than other. Some will pay you more and some are easier to use. Thanks for the advice! Michele

    • maxic9 profile image


      6 years ago

      Why nobody mentioned All My Books? The perfect solution for Windows, I think. Here is the link:

    • profile image


      9 years ago


      my favorite book catalog is collectionmedia. You can catalog in list like in collection,read,wishlist also you can add your own list and share your list with your friends...

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      9 years ago

      I realised a few years ago that I had finally run out of storage space! That's when I started taking stock of my books and donating books I knew I would never read again. While it's tough to part with books, it's nice to know someone else will read and enjoy them too. Meanwhile my bookshelf actually looks presentable too! :)

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      9 years ago from Connecticut

      I share your love of books. I need to go through and organize / clean out the shelves every six months to keep things under control! Glad this was helpful!

    • Atheist Classical profile image

      Atheist Classical 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Egad, I must bookmark this article. I have been weeding and organizing, and just bought bookcases, but I am the Imelda Marcos of books. I need all the help I can get.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Thanks Book Collecting. I know the feeling!

    • profile image

      Book Collecting 

      10 years ago

      He-he... great advice on your Hub. When you've got too many books like me, tips regarding book organisation are always welcome!

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      I have the children's book challenge as well! I hate to get rid of any until I know that they won't be read here anymore. I try to control the mess, but they just keep pulling them down too! They like to play library with them all, which I think is really sweet. :)

    • Cailin Gallagher profile image

      Cailin Gallagher 

      10 years ago from New England

      I decided to donate most of my personal books to a book charity that sends books overseas, the local thrift shop, library if it looks sellable for their annual book sale, our local recycling center, or to friends. But, in their place, I started collecting children's books. I'm overwhelmed with kid's books. I also love the vintage ones. I'll try your tips for organizing them. But, as soon as I have them up on the shelves, the little ones drag them down again! Oh well, I'm sure it won't be long before I'll be donating their books too. :(

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you, Uninvited Writer! That sounds like a great place to work - but I would get into the same trouble of bringing home to many books. I just could not resist that temptation :) I currently have a huge basket full of children's books waiting to be read, because I have run out of shelf space.

      Hi Robie2, thanks for commenting! I think it is that time of year for me too. Just when I think I have it under control... :)

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      10 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Great hub AmyJane--I am always trying to organize my books as I am one of those people who cannot pass up a remainder table in a bookstore or a book box at a yard sale without picking up something. Also organization is not my strong point sooooo I always have bags of books everywhere. About twice a year I do your triage thing--throw away, give away, or sell on Amazon just to keep the mess managable. It works--sort of:-) Your hub reminds me that it's almost time to do it again

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      Very good hub. I recently bought bookcases for my almost 300 books that were in closets and bags. I think I'm okay for a bit. I have weeded my books several times since I've moved a lot in the past 6 years. As you can read in my profile, I get the chance to buy cheap books at work. I have vowed to not buy any more books until I have read everything I already own...

      I organize my books by collection (I have 4 different collections). One book case has everything I haven't read in it.

      I belong to LibraryThing, it's great.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Wow, Defmall, thank you for answering this question for us! Great ideas, thanks again :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Organizing digital books and eBooks would be a mater of using 'smart' folders. In other words:

      1) break the books into categories that are diferentiated enough, but still have a meaty number of books per folder

      2) use folder names that you will instantly recognize, and be smart about what you put in each thru folders to find your books is a waste of your time and effort

      3) Be consistent - you can't arbitrarily put things in folders one way in week one and then diferently in week two.

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Hi Joni, I will look in to that! I have the same problem on my computer; lots of ebooks floating around with no place to call home. I'm sure there is something out there to help. I will let you know what I find! :)

    • Joni Solis profile image

      Joni Solis 

      10 years ago from Kentwood, Louisiana

      I am finding that I have more and more ebooks on my computer. Does any of the book software work well for digital books too? Or do you have any tips for organizing digital ebooks and audios?

    • amy jane profile imageAUTHOR

      amy jane 

      10 years ago from Connecticut

      Thank you all for commenting! John you definitely have the situation under control! Defmall, you are absolutely right - organization equals effieciency and less stress. But Peter, i think a twelve step program may be in your future :) When you love books, it is challenging to let them go, but maybe you could find a home for some of them where they would get some attention.

    • Peter M. Lopez profile image

      Peter M. Lopez 

      10 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      Great advice. I have a storage building and a closet full of books, and that's after ridding myself of several boxes at a garage sale. Help!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      It's so incredibly important to be organized...wether it's the home or the home office! We've been importing and wholesaling office organizers for 15 years, and it's a proven facat that the more organized you are, the more productive you are. The less stress you endure. The better your day flows. The easier life seems. Take a minute to follow the advice on this page and get your bookshelves in order before they simply overtake your liviing room!!!

    • John Chancellor profile image

      John Chancellor 

      10 years ago from Tennessee

      Some great tips.

      I like what Jim Rohn said about books. Average people have giant screen TVs. Successful people have giant libraries. I have a lot of books. But I have developed the habit of identifying which ones are "keepers" and which ones I'll never refer to again. The latter I dispose of immediately ... either on Amazon or to an organization that will recycle them.


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