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Aug 16, 2023

How to Declutter Your Bookshelf

Decluttering your bookshelf may not be on your list of high priorities. But what if we told you you could make some extra cash by doing it? Would it jump up your to-do list?

Bookshelves are more than a place for storing books and ornaments – they aren’t just functional spaces. They’re there for aesthetics, so if your bookshelf is looking a little overwhelmed, it’s time to consider having a little clear out.

However, we know some readers get attached to books (as do we!), and the still-to-reads part-reads that have been sat there for months or years. You bought them with good intentions, yet they’re collecting dust.

While you may not have enough motivation to remove the book now, a cash incentive may get you there. We’ll also show you how to declutter without losing the bookshelves personality and give you some tips and tricks along the way.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Decluttering

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Decluttering

Before you tear everything off of your bookshelf, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I like the book? – if you don’t like a book, it’s unwise to keep it; if you do, it may strengthen your desire to keep it.
  • Would I ever reread it? – if you aren’t interested in rereading the book but think someone else might be, it’s best to give it away.
  • Does it have any sentimental value? – best not to remove the books that were handed down as family heirlooms, you’ll get yourself in trouble.
  • Is it worth anything? – while you may like a book, the promise of financial gain may persuade you to sell it. Check via our cash generator.
  • Have I read this book? – if you haven’t read it, think about whether you’ll ever read it, or whether it holds any value.

If you answered no to all of those questions, you know what to do! If you’ve answered yes and no to each question, then decisions become a little more tricky. 

However, unless you’re an avid reader that has the space to build a personal library, you’ll have to make a few bold decisions.

We’d suggest that any books that don’t hold sentimental value should be the main contenders to remain on your bookshelf.

If you’re unsure about which books to keep and which to sell, read a few reviews on Goodreads and see if the book takes your fancy. Don’t take reviews too seriously though. Failing that, you could always pick it up and read the first chapter! Don’t distract from your clearing duties though.

Bookshelf Clearance Tips

Bookshelf Clearance Tips
  • Keep objects and books you love – you don’t want to have regrets when clearing your bookshelf, so keep the things you love. Don’t throw things because there isn’t space for them on your bookshelf, give them a new home somewhere else in your house.
  • Pick a few ‘treasured’ items – you can use these hero items as your focal points, or to pay homage to a time that evokes feelings of nostalgia. For example, you may want to include a book from your youth, but you don’t want to ruin the style of the bookshelf by overdoing it.
  • Fight the stress of separation – it’s normal to feel like you don’t want to let books go, especially if you enjoyed reading them. However, if you decide to put it in your remove pile, it’s a sign you should stick with your decision.
  • Create a space for ‘hidden’ books or objects – if you have books and ornaments you want to keep, but you don’t want them on show, you could get a box or small storage space that compliments the design of your bookshelf.

How to Declutter Your Bookshelf in 9 Steps

How to Declutter Your Bookshelf in 9 Steps

Now we’re going to show you how to clear your bookshelf with these steps:

1. Remove Books Shelf-By-Shelf

Removing your books shelf-by-shelf means you’ll be able to keep organised, if you remove too many books at once or five shelves worth of books you’ll end up confusing yourself. Removing shelf-by-shelf will also reveal how much space you’ve created.

2. Figure Out the Book’s Purpose

If your book serves a purpose you’d be better off keeping it, does it:

  • Come in handy for jobs or tasks like cooking or studying?
  • Does it have monetary value? This might mean you want to cash in or save with the view to increase its value.
  • Does your book have sentimental value? Maybe you received it as a gift or a hand down from a relative.
  • Will you read it?
  • Will you reuse it?

3. Separate the Books into Piles

You may want to create labels for each pile, so they don’t get mixed up. You’d be devastated if your ‘keep’ pile went to the ‘tip’ pile. Other piles will include the books you want to ‘sell’, ‘donate’ and ‘giveaway’ or ‘store’.

4. Keep An Eye Out for Double Copies

If you’re an avid reader, someone may have bought copies of the same book once or twice but not bothered to clear them out yet. If you haven’t read either you may want to sell them both, or keep one and reserve one for your next read. Check the edition of the duplicates as first edition copies will generate more cash than newer editions.

5. Consider What You Want to Do With Magazines & Paperbacks

Magazines and paperbacks can quickly clutter your bookshelf and make it look a bit tatty if the items are damaged, so decide whether it’s worth keeping them. We understand magazines are keepsakes for some people, so you could get a box and put them at the side of the bookshelf or put them into storage.

6. Evaluate Your Decisions

Go through each pile and consider whether you’re making the correct decision. If you have family members’ books in any of your piles, ask them if they think you’re making the right call. Selling someone’s possessions could land you in hot water!

7. Use the We Buy Books Cash Generator

For all the books you aren’t keeping, stick the barcodes into our cash generator or download the app and use a barcode scanner. We’ll give you an instant cash price; then you can post your items for free. As soon as we’ve received the books, we’ll deposit the cash into your account. It’s that easy!

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8. Throw Away Unusable Books

If you have any books that are in bad condition and you can’t sell or give them away, you may as well throw them away. You may be able to recycle some books, but you won’t know where it’s going to end up if you put it in your recycling bin. 

Ring your local council and ask if they have any schemes for book recycling, or visit your local recycling centre and ask what they do with old books.

9. Give Away Books or Donate Them

If you can’t get any cash for your books and they’re still in good condition, consider donating them to charity shops or giving them away to friends and family. Charity shops always welcome goods and what friend or family member doesn’t appreciate free stuff?

How to Organise Your Bookshelf in 3 Steps

How to Organise Your Bookshelf in 3 Steps

Once you’ve decluttered your bookshelves you’ll want to re-organise them:

1. Plan Your Organisation Scheme

Before you pile everything back onto your bookshelf, consider how you’d like to arrange it. Picking a theme will give you the best aesthetic and can help you find your books more easily. You could consider the following themes:

  • Size – what most people use as their organisation guide.
  • Colour – ideal if you have books that follow a colour theme.
  • Genre – useful if you read books from different genres.
  • Alphabetical – perfect for those that have an extensive collection of books.

2. Add Decoration to Your Bookshelf

Bookshelves often look cluttered because of the amount of books on them. While that’s their primary purpose, it’s good to mix it up a bit and some other design elements such as ornaments or wallpapered shelves. You could also add some picture frames and rounded objects to contrast the sharp edges of the books.

3. Arrange Your Books & Other Items

Arrange your big items first, so you aren’t trying to create space for them at the end, it’ll save you any inconvenience. Think about the size and depth of your bookshelf when you’re arranging your items. 

If you have a low shelves, you may have to stack bigger books horizontally. Stacking books horizontally allows you to use them as bookends, but don’t overcompensate or your bookshelf will look a little strange. Finally, pull your books forward, so you aren’t tempted to stuff more books in there.

Start decluttering your bookshelf and make some cash in the process with We Buy Books. Try the app for a faster experience.

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