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Which narrow bookcase is best?

When you need more space to store your books but floor space is tight, a narrow bookcase is the ideal solution. You can find them in a range of types, styles and widths, so it’s easy enough to find one that meets your particular requirements. 

If you’re looking for a bookcase that’s both stylish and practical, the 17 Stories Wimmer Metal Etagere Bookcase is a top choice. 

What to know before you buy a narrow bookcase


There’s no precise width at which a bookcase becomes a narrow bookcase. Regular ones tend to come in 24-, 36- or 48-inch widths, so you could consider anything less than 24 inches wide to be narrow. 

If you’re in the market for a narrow bookshelf, you probably have a narrow spot in mind. In this case, carefully measure the place where you want the bookcase to fit. Then you’ll know the maximum width you can accommodate.

Types of bookcases

When looking for a bookcase, you’ll find three main types: standard, etagere and ladder bookcases. All hold books the same way, but you may prefer the look of one over the other. 

  • Standard: Standard bookcases have solid sides and a back wall. 
  • Etagere: Etagere bookcases consist of a frame and shelves with open backs and sides. 
  • Ladder: Ladder bookcases have deeper shelves at the bottom than the top, creating a ladder effect. 


Solid wood, engineered wood and metal are all common bookcase materials. 

  • Solid wood: Not only are solid wood bookshelves usually sturdy, but they also look great. Although being made from solid wood isn’t a guarantee of quality, it’s usually a good sign. 
  • Engineered wood: Engineered wood bookshelves are made from wood chips processed into sturdy planks and covered with laminate or wood veneer. While quality engineered wood is strong, cheaper cases are usually made from flimsy engineered wood. The shelves can sag in the middle when there’s too much weight on them. 
  • Metal: Few bookcases are made entirely from metal, but it’s commonly used as a frame material for etagere bookcases, with wood or engineered wood shelves. 

What to look for in a quality narrow bookcase

Adjustable shelves

Some bookcases have height adjustable shelves. This is ideal if you have some extra-tall books. Of course, if you raise the height of one shelf significantly, you’ll have less space between other shelves. You may need to group the shortest books on one shelf to compensate. 

Colors and finishes

Bookshelves come in many colors and finishes, including natural wood finishes and solid colors. 


Narrow bookshelves aren’t always the most stable, especially those that are tall and narrow. If you’re worried about stability, choose a case that comes with wall-anchoring hardware. This fixes the top of the piece of furniture to the wall so that it can’t topple over. 

How much you can expect to spend on a narrow bookcase

You can find some basic engineered wood versions from around $30-$50, while high-end solid wood or wood and metal bookshelves cost approximately $150-$250. 

Narrow bookcase FAQ

How deep should a bookcase be? 

A. Most bookcases measure 10 to 12 inches deep. This lets them fit most books without them overhanging the shelf. However, you can find some narrower versions measuring 7 to 9 inches deep. These are great for paperbacks and compact hardbacks. 

What’s the difference between bookcases and bookshelves? 

A. The terms “bookcase” and “bookshelf” are generally used interchangeably for a piece of furniture with multiple shelves for books. However, a bookshelf can also be a single wall-mounted shelf, but you couldn’t call this a bookcase. 

How do you style a narrow bookcase? 

A. If you want your bookcase to look like one out of an interior design magazine, you can’t simply shelve all your books vertically. Instead, you should stack some books in piles horizontally and others vertically. You should also leave some room for displaying decorative items. It’s harder to do this with a very narrow bookcase, but you can still pull it off.

What’s the best narrow bookcase to buy?

Top narrow bookcase

Best 17 Stories Wimmer Metal Etagere Bookcase

17 Stories Wimmer Metal Etagere Bookcase

What you need to know: This open bookcase has deep shelves that are great for books and displays. 

What you’ll love: It has a simple yet stylish look with a black metal frame and wood veneer shelves. It’s just 16 inches wide so it fits in most spaces. The 15-inch deep shelves fit even large books easily. 

What you should consider: The stickers on the shelves can peel off the finish if you don’t remove them carefully. 

Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair

Top narrow bookcase for the money

Best Furinno Luder Bookcase

Furinno Luder Bookcase

What you need to know: Simple and affordable, this standard bookcase is perfect for buyers who need something functional.

What you’ll love: You can choose from a range of colors, including white, French oak and pink and green options that are great for kids’ rooms. It measures roughly 16 inches across and comes in two, three, four and five shelf options. 

What you should consider: The shelves aren’t adjustable and won’t accommodate the largest of books vertically. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Millwood Pines Gracyn Wood Standard Bookcase

Millwood Pines Gracyn Wood Standard Bookcase

What you need to know: At less than 12 inches wide, this is the ideal choice for fitting in small spaces. 

What you’ll love: It has eight adjustable shelves so it can fit more than you might expect considering its footprint. You have a choice of dark oak and white versions. It comes with anti-toppling hardware. 

What you should consider: You may need to stack taller books horizontally to fit them on the shelves. 

Where to buy: Sold by Wayfair

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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