Sunday, October 30, 2011
Vertical versus Horizontal Stacking
In the life of every book addict there will come a time where you have to make the ultimate decision, a decision that will alter your reading life forever. What, you may ask, is that dreaded decision? It comes down to one simple question - how will you shelve your books?
I’m not talking about how to organize your bookshelves (that’s a whole different dilemma). No, this is the far more primal question each of us must face when we venture from our humble book pile beginnings into the world of bookshelves. It all boils down to two options: horizontal or vertical stacking. Which option would be the best for your growing book collection?
During a bout of procrastination I decided to solve that eternal quandary once and for all using a vaguely scientific approach. I had a pile of hardbacks waiting to be shelved, a more or less standard bookshelf (empty of course) and some time on my hands. The perfect opportunity for an experiment!
My goal was to see which option would provide the best usage of the available shelving space. I put vertical stacking to the test first and managed to fit 34 books onto the shelf. After that I went the horizontal route which allowed me to fit 42 books onto the shelf (I had to resort to adding paperbacks since I ran out of hardbacks).
From this little experiment it became apparent that horizontal stacking makes far better use of available space. On average you’ll be able to add 10 more hardbacks per shelf when stacking them horizontally. With paperbacks this amount more than doubles since you can add more horizontal stacks to a single shelf. On my paperback shelves I managed to add roughly 24 more books per shelf. If you multiply that by an average of 5 shelves per bookcase it gives you the ability to add over 100 extra books to your collection, which is always a good thing!
Of course there’s a downside (there always is, isn’t there?). Horizontal stacking makes it very difficult to keep your books organized alphabetically and it takes slightly more effort to get a book to read from the stack. Given the huge benefit of accommodating more books I’m willing to make that sacrifice. For my purposes horizontal stacking definitely wins!
Vertical stacking has the benefit of being much easier to organize and takes much less effort to get a book from the shelf. The downside is that you'll be paying for the convenience by having fewer books per shelf.
One thing to note when using horizontal stacking is to keep the heaviest titles at the bottom of the pile. This will prevent the weight from potentially causing any damage to the books.
Now the burning question: How will you shelve your books?