How Tall Are Bookcases? Here Are the Standard Dimensions

Have books laying all over the floor? You could probably use a bookcase to organize them! But before you start shopping, it's important to make sure that a new bookcase will fit in your space. You might be curious about how tall bookcases are and how much space you will need. We've done the research and have helpful information to share for anyone looking to buy or build a new bookcase. 

The average 4-shelf bookcase is 54 inches tall, just over 4 feet. However, bookcases come in a wide range of heights. Most bookcases fall within a range of 36-84 inches (3 to 7 feet), depending on the number and height of the shelves. There are many options available that can fit different spaces in the home, store different types of items, and suit personal aesthetic preferences.

There are many things to consider when buying a bookcase. In this post, we will walk you through the various options that are available. Continue reading for a thorough explanation of the different types of bookcases and their dimensions. We'll also share some examples of popular bookcases that might suit your needs.

Picture Frame, Library with bookcases And Plants In Living Room, How Tall Are Bookcases? Here Are the Standard Dimensions

How Tall Are Different Types Of Bookcases?

Bookcases are available in a wide range of sizes and can even be custom built to suit your space. Despite the wide variety of choices, there are two standard size ranges, small and large. Small bookcases usually have between 3-5 shelves and are 27-36 inches tall. Large bookcases have 5-7 shelves and are 60-84 inches tall. Let's take a look at some of the different bookcase styles.


A standard bookcase has shelves that are either evenly spaced or adjustable and has a closed back. Standard bookcases vary in height, and they are typically made of wood or engineered wood.

This tall standard bookcase has excellent product reviews and is made of recycled materials. It has five shelves, three of which are adjustable in height. The bookcase measures 71 inches tall (nearly 6 feet), 24.5 inches long (about 2 feet), and 11.5 inches deep.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This short standard bookcase also has consistently positive reviews. It has three fixed shelves and measures 31.5 inches tall (just under 3 feet), 23 inches wide (nearly 2 feet), and 10 inches deep. An added benefit of a short bookcase is that the top of the bookcase can provide easily accessible additional storage or display space.

Click here to see it on Amazon.


An étagère is a set of shelves with an open back. Often made of glass, this type of bookcase has a more delicate design than a standard bookcase. It is designed to be both beautiful and useful for the storage and display of books and other items. As with most bookcase types, étagères vary in height.

This étagère bookcase is made of wood and metal. It measures 65 inches tall (about 5.5 feet), 30 inches wide (2.5 feet), and 13 inches deep. The five shelves are at fixed heights, and the space between shelves measures just under 14 inches.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Ladder (Leaning)

A ladder-style or leaning bookcase is designed to lean against the wall or appear as if it is doing so. The shelves of a ladder bookcase decrease in depth from the bottom to the top. Be sure to measure the top shelves to ensure that the size will meet your storage or display needs. The height of ladder bookcases varies, but they tend to have at least four shelves.

This ladder bookcase is affordable, beautiful, and highly rated. It has five fixed shelves that are deeper at the bottom and narrower toward the top. This bookcase measures 70 inches tall (just under 6 feet) and nearly 25 inches wide (about 2 feet). The shelf depths from top to bottom are 4.5 inches, 6.75 inches, just under 9 inches, 11 inches, and 13.25 inches.

Click here to see it on Amazon.


As the name indicates, corner bookcases are designed to fit into corners. They are built on a right angle and can easily be wedged into small spaces. Corner bookcases are great space-saving storage and display pieces for small living spaces. The height of corner bookcases varies, but they tend to be on the taller side to provide more space, given the small width.

This beautiful corner bookcase is made of wood and metal. It measures 70 inches tall (just under 6 feet), and 16.5 inches in length and width. Like a ladder bookcase, the depth of the five shelves decreases from bottom to top, ranging from 15 inches (bottom shelf) to 8.5 inches (top shelf).

Click here to see it on Amazon.


A cube bookcase is divided horizontally and vertically into square or rectangular spaces. The modern design aesthetic often comes in fun colors and materials, and these shelves are useful for both storage and display. Some of these bookcases are modular systems. In these cases, the height will be determined by the height of each cube and the number of shelves.

This ClosetMaid cube organizer comes in several sizes and colors. The cube system is modular and completely customizable, as are the back panels. The 12-cube design in the picture below measures 36 inches tall (3 feet), 47.5 inches long (nearly 4 feet), and 11.6 inches deep. Each cube measures 11.25 inches wide, 11.25 inches tall, and 11.75 inches deep.

Click here to see it on Amazon.


A built-in bookcase is completely customizable. It usually consists of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that are mounted to brackets, which are in turn mounted to the wall. If you are interested in a built-in bookcase, you will likely need a contractor to help you design and build it.

Built-in bookshelves can be any height you choose. The maximum is determined by the height of your ceiling, which is generally 8-9 feet. The top shelf is usually installed about a foot below the ceiling, and the shelves are spaced evenly unless you require different spacing.

What Is The Standard Size Of A Bookcase?

As we have seen, bookcases come in a wide variety of sizes. A standard 4-shelf bookcase is about 54 inches tall (just over 4 feet). The width of a standard bookcase ranges from 24 inches (2 feet) to 45 inches (3.5 feet). Most bookcases are 10-12 inches deep. However, shelves may be shallower in some cases, such as on the top shelves of ladder-style bookcases.

How Far Apart Should Shelves Be In A Bookcase (In Inches)?

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Some bookcases come with fixed shelves, but many shelves are adjustable to suit your needs. In general, it is advised to leave 8-12 inches between shelves, depending on what will go on them. The ideal shelf height for books is about 10 inches, and the ideal height for magazines is about 11-12 inches.

The top shelf of a bookcase should be no more than 72-78 inches high. This will ensure that any average-sized person will be able to reach items on the top shelf. If you are considering a bookcase with shelves that are not adjustable, be sure to measure the distance between shelves to ensure that your books will fit.

How Do You Reach Things On High Shelves?

If you are six feet tall, you should be able to reach the top shelf of an 80-inch bookcase with no trouble. But what about all the short book-lovers? Luckily, there are several options for reaching books or other items that are on a high shelf.

You can use a step stool to reach shelves that are otherwise out of reach. 

This Rubbermaid basic step stool has two steps and should enable most people to reach the top shelf of most standard bookcases. The step stool easily folds away for discreet storage.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

If you have mobility issues or otherwise feel uncomfortable on a step stool, consider using a grabber tool. With a grabber, you can reach items on high shelves while remaining safely earth-bound. The suction cups on the end securely grip the item to prevent dropping.

This Vive Suction Cup Reacher Grabber extends your natural reach by 32 inches (nearly 3 feet).

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Finally, if your bookcases are attached to the wall or built-in, you could also consider installing a rolling ladder. This is a more involved process that will likely involve a contractor and a high budget. However, it could be worth it to make all of your librarian dreams come true!

Picture Frame, Library with bookcases And Plants In Living Room, How Tall Are Bookcases? Here Are the Standard Dimensions

Find The Best Bookcase For You!

Bookcases come in a variety of styles and dimensions, as we have discussed in this post. That's great because it means that you can probably find the perfect bookcase to meet your needs. Think about where you want to put the bookcase and what you want to put on it. Consider your own height and think about how accessible you want your items to be.

Then, have fun shopping around for a bookcase! With the wide variety available, you are sure to find something that works for you and that you love. Before you go, be sure to check out these related posts:

How To Build Shelves Under Stairs [3 Easy Steps]

25 Modern Home Office Ideas

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