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Boxes, Little (Book) Boxes...Not All Made Out of Ticky Tacky... by Ernest Lilley
TechRevu Column  ISBN/ITEM#: 0511EL
Date: November 1, 2005 / Show Official Info /

If you came to our place here in Alexandria, you'd think we barely read. Compared to most book people, I mean. In fact, I think there are only six or seven bookcases (Ikea, Billy, 3ft) in the place. The rest are on storage shelving at an undisclosed cut down cardboard apple boxes. It's taken years to find the ultimate box, and though I'll keep looking...I find Apple boxes to be at least penultimate.

Partly because I believe in drawing the line between letting possessions run my life and having them accessible, I set a limit to the number of shelves I can have at home...and the rest goes into storage. The trick is to make them findable. The other thing is that unlike many book folks, I get to pick up my tent and move every few years...courtesy of a military gal.

Now, putting books in boxes generally means never seeing them again. Thanks to SFRevu and TechRevu, I acquire books at a pretty good clip, and need to refind them on short notice. Stacked books in boxes defeated my efforts to keep them organized. After a long time I turned to my present system.

Cut Down Apple boxes.

Using these, I get stackable boxes that act as flat bookcases. Pressed in together with their spines facing up I can easily scan books to find what I need, and they fit nicely on storage shelves.

Apple boxes are very sturdy, measure about 20x12X12 (inches) and can generally be obtained from one's green grocer. I pick up one a week when I go shopping, and since I do it as the first thing I also use it to bring my groceries home in rather than get more shopping bags.

Emptied of groceries, I cut them down to 7" tall for hardcovers, and 5" tall for paperbacks. Since I do it on a regular basis, You can even turn them on their sides to make temporary bookcases for use in the (oh the shame) huckster rooms at cons...

I have a wooden yardstick I use to cut them down cleanly, it has nails placed at strategic points to mark the boxes for cutting and then hold it in place against the cardboard for cleaner (and safer) cuts. If you make your own yardstick, take time to predrill the holes for the nails so you don't split the wood. Sheetrock screws work even better than nails, since you can adjust their depth.

Some numbers:

Dimensions in inches and lbs.

Full Size: 20x12x12 (aprox)
Cut Down Height (HC/PB): 7" HC, 5" PB
Capacity in books
HC: 20-25 HC in one row, with some others stacked above.
PB: 40 in two rows. Dropping a cardboard divider between the rows allows you to turn the boxes on their side.

Note: Capacity will vary depending on your favorite authors and the increasing trend in the publishing industry to sell door stoppers. But you should use these to stop doors and plug levees, so they shouldn't be a problem.

Now if I just built a frame to hold the boxes at an angle so I could see all the faces while standing I could do away with bookcases alltogether... hmmm...

Ernest Lilley

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