Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Something Different: Bookshelf Review

Some of you may remember that a little while ago I mentioned I would be doing a review that is a bit different. CSN Office Furniture kindly offered to donate a bookcase for me to review and how could I refuse an offer like that? I asked them for recommendations for a bookcase that was sturdy since most of my shelves are bending under the weight of all my hardcover books. They recommended me cases made by Winsome or Sauder for these purposes, and I ended up settling on the Camden County Three-Shelf Bookcase by Sauder.

I received my bookcase very promptly but did not end up getting it up immediately because it was so hot here (90F is hot in Maine, really!). It cooled down enough to assemble it last week and over the weekend I moved a bunch of my hardcover books onto it (trying to keep series and authors together but unfortunately without alphabetizing since I still have to double stack books on some shelves and now have a total of 9 bookcases scattered all throughout the apartment).

Technical Details
  • Planked cherry finish
  • Two adjustable shelves
  • Sturdy 1" thick shelves and uprights
  • Quick and easy assembly with patented twist lock fasteners
  • Overall Dimensions: 44.25" H x 36" W x 13.875" D

According to my husband (who put the case together for me last week once it cooled down enough here to do more than sprawl in front of the fan), the bookcase was very easy to assemble. It required a hammer and a screwdriver and used the twist lock connectors, which don't seem as though they would be as sturdy as real cams, but when moving it around it did not seem weak or like it would come apart easily. He did tell me to make sure I added that it is frigging heavy, and I can attest to that since I helped him move it a few times.


With its cherry wood finish, the bookcase is definitely very nice-looking yet it is practical and holds a lot of books. It's larger, more attractive, and sturdier than any of my other bookcases (not that this is difficult since I tend to buy cheap bookcases from Target - I can't afford to be flashy with so many bookshelves). Only time will tell but with its one-inch thick shelves it is a lot hardier than my other bookcases and will hopefully hold up better under the strain of those thick books. Though calculations suggest otherwise...

To properly estimate the effects of hardcovers on a shelf over time, my husband is proposing a new unit and testing procedure known as the grrm. Based on the golden grrm value of 223 grams per linear centimeter, the center shelves which are 34" long should be able to hold about 19.25 kg or 42.4 lbs. However, the manual that came with the shelf said the middle shelves were only rated to hold 35 lbs without bending. That suggests that even though the shelves are an inch thick, they're probably still going to end up bending if you load it with hardcovers. The bottom shelf is rated at 55 lbs so that should be all set, even if I did put my George R. R. Martin and Steven Erikson hardcovers on it. (For more information, see the exciting technical supplement detailing the grrm.)

The Camden County Three-Shelf bookcase is a lovely case that is sturdier than the cheap bookcases I normally buy (priced at approximately $100, it had better be - edit: oops, just checked and it looks like the price has increased). Even so, the middle shelves may still bend if used exclusively for hardcovers. Since the estimated weight a case may hold is often less than the actual weight, it may hold up better than expected, but I'll have to report back after some time has passed.


Benjamin said...

The bookcase is a little small and a bit expensive, but very nice!

I managed to find some nice 6-foot ones at Office Depot a while for less than $50 each (I got three). I did get them a little cheaper than normal because they were getting rid of that particular model.

orannia said...

The bookcase does look very pretty with all your books in it :) I doubt they would ship where I am :)

Ohhhh....once I buy a house and do all the prep work (as in plastering, painting, etc.) I can go bookshelf buying and actually have a library. My books will be so shocked to be out of boxes! Will have to make sure the bookcases are sturdy though, as I don't want my Sarah Monette books languishing on the bottom shelf :)

Kristen said...

Benjamin - It is rather expensive, I agree. It's more than my bookcase buying budget can afford.

Six foot ones for less than $50 each sounds like a great deal! I don't have any that are that big, but someday I do want a huge one... or one of those bookcase walls.

Orannia - It looks like CSN only ships to US and Canada.

I'm looking forward to actually having a library someday too. Maybe with one of those bookcase walls and enough room that I can alphabetize everything and have it make sense. Everything will look so pretty and neat.

I put my Sarah Monette books on the middle shelf of this one, all neatly lined up together. :) And my Storm Constantine ones are all on the top shelf.

orannia said...

That's what I want to have - wall-to-wall bookcases :)

I must hunt down the first Storm Constantine book! *makes big reminder note*

Kristen said...

Orannia - Wouldn't wall to wall bookcases be lovely? I'd like one library room full of books with a nice seating area in front of a fireplace. And maybe a coffee bar.

I can always dream.

Benjamin said...

Hey Kristen! Speaking of bookcase walls, I just saw Neil Gaiman's library:


Kristen said...

Benjamin - I saw that yesterday and was drooling too! That's a lot of books. Someday I'll have a room like that... (minus all the awards)

Anastasia said...

I am in dire need of a bookshelf, but my room is all gray/silver/black so I need something that looks sleek & modern.

I'm looking at:

I like their height and look. Space is an issue, so I'm undecided between the wider bookshelf and the thinner tower. Or both? Lots of stuff could go on shelves.

They're not cheap: $440 for the bookshelf and $375 for the tower. But everything modern tends to be more expensive, I've noticed.

This one is also interesting:

Your thoughts?

My bedroom set, btw, is this, with the silver dresser and nightstand:

My walls are light gray (I wish I hadn't chickened and actually gone for a darker gray). Color accents are purple bed covers. What I'm missing are black shades/blinds for the windows and, importantly, bookshelves.

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Bookcase UK said...

The book looks really nice. I bought one of a kind from an online retailer that offered stylish bookcase at highly affordable price.