The typical height of a bookshelf is fairly easy to determine if you base the height on two things: the number of shelves it will contain and what those shelves contain. Since books are about 3 inches shorter than magazines, a shelf that stores only books is shorter than a book shelf that stores only magazines. When designing a new bookshelf, it just makes good sense to consider all of these height measurements.
Floor Standing Bookshelves
A floor standing bookshelf is very common in a bedroom or living room. It stands on the floor and has between four and five shelves. This type of bookshelf usually comes in one of two heights: either 27 or 36 inches. The smaller version is ideal for a bedside while the larger version is perfect for the living room. With a taller height, the bookshelf also acts as a place to store photos and knickknacks.
Seven-Shelf Bookshelf Units
Larger bookshelves contain up to seven shelves and have as little as five. These units often mount to the wall and do not stand freely. This is for safety purposes. The bookshelves stand as tall as 80 inches, which is a comfortable height for someone 6 feet tall to reach without a stool. Any taller and a ladder or stool is necessary to reach the top shelf. These shelves install inside a living room or office, anywhere that needs lots of book storage space.
Wall Mounted or Built-In Bookshelves
A built-in bookshelf consists of shelves mounted to brackets that are in turn mounted to a wall. The shelves require the wall for support and may not have side walls. Maximum height for a set of built-in shelves is the height of the ceiling. That is 8 feet in standard homes, or 9 or more feet in luxury homes. Most built-in shelves in luxury homes have a top shelf installed a foot below the ceiling, and shelves spaced evenly along the wall. A stool allows easy access to books set on the top shelf.
Bookshelf Shelf Spacing and Depth of Shelves
Each shelf in a bookshelf is set at a particular height depending on what type of book the shelving holds. For magazines, shelves are set 11 inches apart. For books, the shelves are spaced 10 inches apart. In addition to set shelving, many bookcases include one shelf for larger books and maps. This shelf adjusts to fit the over-sized book. Along with standard heights, bookshelves also have standard depths. A typical bookshelf is 12 inches from front to back, while smaller bookshelves measure 9 inches from front to back.