About Bookstore Layouts


Bookstore layouts can take on a different shape than a library. There are so many book genres and being able to separate the different categories is important. With so many books available, finding an organized way to sort books is very important. Here are some recommendations on how to organize your bookstore layout.


  • When you begin, start by looking at the bookshelves. Some bookstores try to cram bookshelves, floor to ceiling, with books. Having customers reach overhead, and partially climbing the bookshelves to reach a book they want isn't a good thing. You also don't want customers constantly having to crouch and sit on the floor to be able to examine books. Pick shelves where you can display the majority of books at eye level for most people. For childrens sections, you can pick shelves that are lower to the floor.

The Facts

  • Books usually contain guides on the outside cover that suggest which category they belong to. This might be on the back of the book or on the binding. Using these as guides, you can categorize books pretty quickly. Separate display areas for different genres make it easier for customers to locate books on their own. Most stores display books starting by nonfiction and fiction, genre, then in alphabetical order, based on the author's last name.


  • Labels on your bookshelves should come in a couple of different sizes. One is on the bookshelves themselves, or above the bookshelves, indicating fiction or nonfiction, and the genres included on each shelf. Clear signs in big, block letters will help people identify the right sections they need. Use labels within the bookshelves themselves, if you have overlapping genres on the same shelf. You can further use labels to suggest alphabetical order arrangements.

Risk Factors

  • Don't overstuff your shelves. Books will fly off the shelf when customers try to pull them out and stuffing them back in damages the books. Avoid placing shelves too close together, so only one person can walk between them. When you limit a customer's ability to access books, you also limit your sales potential. Avoid wobbly shelves or shelves that might topple if nudged lightly. To test your shelves, place a few books on one section of shelves, and then see how much pressure it takes to knock it over. If it is easy when someone leans against a shelf, or simply brushes past too close, you don't want to use that shelf.


  • When you design your bookstore shelves to display books at a comfortable eye level, and you create signs and maps, you are helping customers to be able to find the books they want on their own. If they can find the book they are looking for, this allows for you and your employees to concentrate on selling books and making recommendations, instead of having to locate books for customers. Layout also can induce comfort--people come to bookstores to relax, browse and check out the latest books. The more you make them comfortable, the more prone they are to buying and coming back.

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