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BarnacleBill's avatar

How many linear feet of books do you have in your house/apartment?

Asked by BarnacleBill (16073points) January 23rd, 2011

Do you own books? If you had to order new bookshelves, how many linear feet of shelving would you need?

I need 372 feet.

I bought a Kindle and am thinking about what it would be like to not have shelved of books in the house, but rather carry them all around in the Kindle…

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51 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

roughly 20 or 21 linear feet

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I am really not sure,but I have alot of books and want to build floor to ceiling bookshelves for a room in my house that I want to change into a study.

syz's avatar

I have run out of walls that could contain additional bookshelves. I recently purged and gave away books to my friends, but I probably still need about 10 feet of shelving.

I, too, recently acquired a Kindle, and I have to say I’m not that impressed so far. I like perusing the shelves in the book store, making my choices, and holding the book in my hand. I’m not sure I’m going to adjust too well to this….

lillycoyote's avatar

I couldn’t begin to tell you.

TexasDude's avatar

I have not a damn clue.

I have so many books that I literally use them as furniture, so I have no real way of estimating how many linear feet they would take up.

Last time I tried to catalogue my books, I got bored counting at around 2000 and something.

aprilsimnel's avatar


2 book cases with 7 shelves each, shelves are ~2.5 ft long

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve got books doubled up on shelves, so it’s kind of hard to really count. Plus there are places all over the house that I don’t even know what’s going on there. I’m thinking around 200 feet. That doesn’t include the books that are still in boxes or might be in boxes that have been sitting around for more than twenty years.

But I’ve stopped reading, so I’ve stopped buying books, and am fast on my way to becoming a key member of the short attention span theater. Then again, I’ve been known to read through 140 answers to a question, so maybe it’s not that bad that I only read online these days.

iamthemob's avatar

About 75 feet.

janbb's avatar

No idea – but a lot.

AmWiser's avatar

Let’s just say I’m thinking of opening a Used Bookstore.
Okay, just joking. I got about 200 books (not sure how many feet that is).

filmfann's avatar

One entire wall has built in, floor to ceiling bookshelves. the smaller books are doubled up, and the wall is 11 foot long. I also have a large number of books in boxes.
So, in short, I have a butt load of books.

Cruiser's avatar

I never thought about this until you asked! We have a lot of books. I also have a whole wall of built in shelves. 7 rows 12 feet wide mostly full so at least 50 feet and more in storage.

SavoirFaire's avatar

About 100 linear feet. Unfortunately, we only have shelving for about 70 linear feet. This is after three purges (one for each time we’ve moved). Also, my wife and I probably each have another 50 linear feet remaining in our respective parents’ basements.

WasCy's avatar

I measure my books in cubic feet. Shelves are filled with double-stacks; sometimes quadruple-stacks for paperbacks. Books that don’t stack as high as the shelf above have books laying on top of them. I have several boxes of books in the garage that I haven’t opened since I moved into this place and can’t fit inside.

Edit: I would measure in cubic feet, if I bothered at all.

JLeslie's avatar

Probably just under 100 linear feet. But, I grew up in a house that had books everywhere. My dad turned it into a business, and now there is double from the time I left home. He has over 5,000 books on Amazon for sale.

Jeruba's avatar

Let’s see . . . 18 in the room I’m in now, my study. I’ll walk around and count the rest.

Ok, about 10 in the living room and the same in my husband’s study.
About 145 in the little room we call the library, 16 in my sons’ rooms, and 12 in the bedroom.
I’d estimate about another 6 that are currently in random stacks here and there.
That’s 217.

I have no idea how many more are in boxes in the basement and the garage.

The actual measured total probably wouldn’t exceed yours, @BarnacleBill, but it’s still substantial. Your library must be truly impressive.

So—I think if I were ordering bookshelves, I’d probably try to keep it down to about 200 linear feet. But I’d still end up with what I have now: 3-foot vertical stacks in the corners of rooms, double-depth rows of paperbacks, scores of books shoved in sideways on top of rows, and, inevitably, random stacks here and there.

YARNLADY's avatar

Roughly 300 ft.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I periodically think about getting rid of the books that aren’t read. Several years ago, I hit upon the perfect solution for disposing of books—I put them in the night drop at the public library. They either end up on the shelves, go to the library book sale, or are sent to libraries in economically disadvantaged areas.

I find I am spending more and more time reading online, and less time actually reading. I’m hoping the kindle will help address some of that.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard, I tried to catalog mine too, but ended up settling for videotaping the titles on the spines.
@syz, I’m hoping it will help with recreational reading, and force me to keep reading materials with me at all times. People seem to read with Kindles at work, as opposed to books or magazines.
I would love to have a room completely walled in bookcases. I have them spread out over free standing bookcases in 5 rooms.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Between @hobbitsubculture and I we have well over a thousand books. We haven’t managed to move them all into our apartment yet, even though we moved in months ago. Many are in storage at our parents’ houses. This will be changing soon, as we’ll be putting up numerous stacked boards and cinderblocks to make shelves, which will likely cover most of the walls of our living room, and perhaps some in the bedroom as well.

Jeruba's avatar

@BarnacleBill, do you know for sure that the library is happy to have such donations in quantity? or is it possible that it costs them something significant to deal with unwanted books?

I’m wondering about that because I’ve been seeing notices from a local shelter I used to donate to that it costs them $50,000 a year to disposed of donations that don’t meet their criteria. This was a stern reminder that not all castoffs are welcomed as desirable contributions.

Maybe @janbb could offer an inside view.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba My father gets a lot of his books at library sales. Some districts consolodate books at the main library for the sale, so probably they might appreciate books donated a particular location. I woud ask your local library if they take donations, and they will probably tell you what they prefer. Churches have book sales also. You might google used book sales in you area and see what pops up, if you want to make the effort. Also, Goodwill takes books. My dad buys them there also. Or, a used book store might give you a little cash.

Ellis1919's avatar

I have no idea. I know I need more book shelves though. I have books scattered all around everywhere. I’ve tried to refrain from buying any more at the moment and instead am taking full advantage of the new library within walking distance of where I live. I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to go the paperless route. I love the physicality of books themselves. When I travel, I’m likely to bring just as many books as clothes with me, maybe even more.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Jeruba Good Point. Our library accepts all books, and has a permanent sale rack for the donated ones.

Bellatrix's avatar

i did a rough calculation and came up with about 70 but that doesn’t include the books my husband has at his business premises in boxes… I think I am a book addict.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

I have no idea. More than half of mine have recently received water damage (or sick PapayaLily damage…) so I had to throw them out. Combine that with the part where I’ve converted most of my books to ebooks, and it’s really only 3 or 4 feet (if the shelving is ceiling to floor). Course, I have 12 GBs of ebooks, which is quite a lot when you consider most of them are the size of an mp3 song.

arnbev959's avatar

The books in my hallway would take over 200 feet of shelving assuming I didn’t double any shelves.

The books in my bedroom and downstairs would probably be another 100 or so.

janbb's avatar

@BarnacleBill Not sure what’s true for your local library but donations are a very mixed blessing for most libraries. As you say, they may be accessioned (put in the collection), sold, or given away but very few donated books are added to a library’s existing collection as most needed books are current new titiles which are bought. Books to be sold require storage and labor. Many libraries will collect donations at various times of the year for annual book sales, but do not solicitate them on an ongoing basis. I would suggest that if you wish to donated books to a library, you speak to the professional librarian in charge and find out what their donation policy is before just dropping books in a book drop. Not be disparaging of the idea, but sometimes one man’s junk is just another man’s junk.

syz's avatar

Drat! I misread the question – I thought it was asking how many feet of bookshelf are we lacking.

Austinlad's avatar

Too many to ship to England!

LuckyGuy's avatar

About 80 feet. But many of the books are family and personal treasures. Items like: the books my grandmother held as a child, the books my parents loved so much 60 years ago ld books picked up along the way because they were interesting: The Modern Automobile -1917. The Ideal Marriage -1923. Hiroshima, first ed. There is a special heft and feel to them that transcends the printed information.
Reading them on a kindlenookipad would just not be the same.

snowberry's avatar

We moved from a home with floor to ceiling built in bookshelves, and lots of extra bookshelves. Every one was filled with books. Since then we’ve weeded out a bunch, but we still have many books in storage, and so I don’t quite know. But every few weeks I mention to my husband “I need a new bookshelf!”

And he says, “No you don’t! There’s no more room!”

And I say, “There is too! How about a half size one under this window?” Then I get The Look….

Jeruba's avatar

Pretty impressive, @petethepothead. I bet you don’t move very often. I just have to ask you: can you find the one you’re looking for? Some of those look pretty old and make me want to browse.

I knew a couple in Rhode Island who had an entire large room in their house devoted to books: the room was empty of everything but books, and the books literally filled the room to waist height, wall to wall, in vertical stacks, with narrow pathways in between sections.

When I was little, I thought people who accumulated literature (as we did at our house) were called bookkeepers. It still bothers me that they’re not.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@janbb So then when a new hot book comes out, if I run right out, buy it, read it, and then don’t know what to do with it, I should donate it to the library?

Jeruba's avatar

There’s always Amazon Marketplace. If you don’t mind making a trip to the post office and you can break even on the shopping allowance, you can keep your selling price down and have the comfort of knowing you’ve passed the book on to someone who wants it.

Bellatrix's avatar

My cousin has this great system. When he has read a novel, he leaves it in a public place for someone else to read. I wouldn’t do this with very special books or books I know I am going to read again, but for books that were a good read but not precious to me, I think it is a lovely way to share and saves on wall space for more and more bookshelves.

Jeruba's avatar

Ah, yes, I forgot: there’s also this: BookCrossing. The idea is to read a book and then set it free. You put a special label in the book. The person who finds it has the option to log on and tell you about it. Some books have been tracked across considerable distances this way, just for fun.

AmWiser's avatar

Also you can post your books on PaperBack Swap.
It’s easy: List books you’d like to swap with other club members.
Once a book is requested, mail it to the club member.
In return, you may choose from 4,954,099 available books!
Books you request are mailed to you for free.
No late fees. No hidden charges.

janbb's avatar

@papayalily It’s always a kindness to ask your library if they can use it. If they have multiple requests for a book, they may be very grateful to get your copy.

(Trade secret – entire runs of The National Georgraphic are not a hot item.)

arnbev959's avatar

@Jeruba I can usually find what I’m looking for. At one time all the paperbacks were organized by author, but many of them have drifted out of that system by now. Even so, I can usually find any title pretty quickly.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@Jeruba, I called about book donations early on, and they are happy to get them. The library book sale has been a huge money-maker for the library for years. The donated books go to a warehouse facility for sorting and storage by volunteers; unsold books from the booksale go to other libraries in poorer areas of the state. I tend to donate the books I read for book club, which I will never read again. I’m big on lending people books, and not expecting them to come back, and when they do, I’m not quite sure what to do with them. Let’s face it—how often do you reread most of your books?

I donate cookbooks, travel books, DIY books that I purchased because the library didn’t have a book on the subject, children’s books that were not favorites, odd books that were given to me (Will I ever seriously consider raising pigs in the city? Not hardly.)

I never put more than 10 – 12 books in the night drop at a time. I’ve seen about half of my reference books on the shelves of the library.

Bellatrix's avatar

How wonderful Jeruba. One day, you could end up with one of my books.

WasCy's avatar

Well, maybe, @janbb… but I still recall ‘hot’ issues of Nat Geo.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@janbb Do people save National Geo for the library, but not other magazines? Does the library not want copies of National Geo?

Jeruba's avatar

I’d be willing to bet that libraries receive more than enough offers of National Geographic collections. We have not heeded the warning of this article that predicted in 1974 the catastrophic sinking of the country beneath the weight of accumulated National Geographics.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Perhaps we can use the National Geographics as support pillars for the Pacific or Atlantic Garbage Patch…

Bellatrix's avatar

I feel a whole new question coming on… creative ways to use your used National Geographic collection.

JLeslie's avatar

Give them to a doctor’s office.

BarnacleBill's avatar

This is making me think of Garrison Keillor’s description of the Hotel Minnesota, where the rooms are panelled in knotty pine and there are stacks of National Geographics in the closets, for that at-home guest room feel.

Jeruba's avatar

@JLeslie, I don’t think they’re in need. My doctor’s receptionist told me two days ago that they don’t even have to subscribe—bushels of magazines come in at no charge.

But how about rehab places, halfway houses, shelters, jails, and literacy programs? They might be good places to donate books and magazines, especially those with high-quality content.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Great ideas.

GracieT's avatar

Quite a lot! Every once in a while I decide that I have way too many and take several boxes to the used book stores to earn some money. However, the decision to reform and not buy so many lasts for only about a day and the collection begins again, and again…
Now I have an iPad, and so the question becomes in addition to the linear feet of books, how many virtual feet. What is surprising is that I have several of the same volume both cloth and virtual in order that I can carry more of my favorites with me, but save actual paper copies because I love the feel and smell of the books and don’t want to give up the copies. My family has held interventions for me, but they didn’t take.

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