Friday Favorites is an excuse for me to simply gush about something that I love, no matter how relevant or irrelevant it is to today’s hot-button topics. This time it’s irrelevant, but growing in awareness as people spend more time at home. And it’s also probably the piece I’m least proud of, so there’s that.
If you’re reading this, chances are there is a healthy collection of comics and trade paperbacks in your home. Most likely, it’s several thousand dollars worth. I’m also willing to bet that those trades, hardcovers, and omnibuses are resting on some cheap bookshelves from Walmart or Target. If you take a glance at them, you’ll probably see some sagging going on. Regardless of how wide a book is, it is incapable of standing upright on its own. However, our Swedish furniture overlords have an affordable option that stands up to the most demanding weights that this hobby can produce. Of course, I’m talking about IKEA and their surprisingly sturdy bookshelves – namely the Billy and Kallax models.
While this may read like some #hailcorporate advertisement, I can assure you that this is not a paid promotion. This site only exists due to passion and doesn’t make money (even if I wish it did). I’ve owned some terrible bookshelves that fell apart due to the weight of a trade collection. It’s quite sobering to see a carefully curated collection of comics in a pile on the floor among splintered pieces of particle board.
See that bowing from the top shelf? The only way that’s going to stop is when it starts to press up against the tops of the books on the shelf below it, at which point the entire shelf will collapse in on itself. I know this because it’s happened in the past, and because I’m looking to replace that shelf with something sturdier. That’s where the IKEA shelves come into place.
The two styles I’ve mentioned, the Billy and Kallax, are two different styles. Billy is more of a traditional bookshelf, whereas Kallax is a cube storage solution. Both are much sturdier than what can be found at the more mainstream big box stores.
Let’s talk the Kallax first. What makes it appealing is that it’s a cube storage that comes in varying heights and widths to meet your needs. The dimensions of each shelf is 13 x 13 inches, which makes it great to store those oversized hardcovers – especially those in the dimensions of DC’s Absolute Editions. The shelf dimensions also make for good weight distribution which prevents bowing and provides a sturdy, stable place to store your books. However, cube storage solutions are available from other retailers are actually pretty good too, so there’s not a real need to search out the IKEA version when there’s a perfectly serviceable Target or Walmart in your area.
Obviously a nice, wooden bookshelf would be ideal, but they’re out of the price range of most people. Unfortunately, the most available option for people are the cheap shelves from one of the aforementioned stores. I don’t mean to malign either retailer. I’m personally a big fan of Target… but their shelves are crap. I know because I have a couple of them and they do not hold up. At all.
Now, the Billy model from IKEA… that’s the gold standard of affordable bookshelves. The options are rather limited for the base shelf, but there’s something beautiful about effective simplicity. You’re basically stuck with either a 31.5 inch wide or a 15.75 inch wide version, but both hold the weight of books well. The 15.75 inch version is preferential to heavier books, such as omnibuses or oversized hardcovers, as there’s less area to distribute the weight. Plus, you can get some nice glass doors or overhead lights to really class it up.
I know this has been an unusual edition of Friday Favorites, but there’s no new books to talk about and I haven’t finished any re-reads worth talking about. So if you’re looking for a little home project to pass the time as you adhere to stay-at-home orders (or if your state hasn’t issued one, you’re using your head and doing so anyways), maybe it’s time to upgrade your shelves to something a little sturdier. And if you can find some commercial-grade shelves, even better! Shout-out to the subreddit /r/comicbookshelves for the discussions regarding… well… shelves.