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Bookcases Buying Guide

July 1st, 2018

bookcases buying guideContents


Why use bookcases?

Top books on management and leadership

How to create a library

Questions to ask before shopping for a bookcase

Types of bookcases

General best practices when buying bookcases

Further information



Bookcases are pieces of furniture that we see everywhere and yet they’re rarely seen in the workplace. Given the importance of reading this might be surprising were it not for the fact that many employers consider offering reading material to staff as an unimportant luxury and a frippery.

However, increasing numbers of managers are seeing the benefit of supplying workers with materials and books for reading on breaks and also for personal development. Some companies even allow staff to spend a certain proportion of their day on study and self-development.

That’s not the only reason to install bookcases in the office, though. They can also contribute to the overall look and feel of the décor, making it an inviting place for visitors like clients and customers. And they can be used to break up the layout, acting as screens or for sectioning areas off into breakout spaces, for example.

As you might expect, there’s a massive selection of bookcases out there, in all kinds of sizes, styles, configurations, materials and colours, and so it might seem difficult to narrow down your options if you’re considering making a purchase.

Thankfully, this buying guide will help you to do just that. Firstly, we’ll break down the various uses and importance of bookcases in different environments, before offering you a little inspiration in the form of our top books on management and leadership; this selection would be a fantastic start to any workplace collection.

For those of you who have a little ambition, we’ve included a section on creating a library, which can be a wonderful and useful addition to any office, offering a place for relaxation or study.

Then we come to the main bulk of the guide; helping you to choose. We’ll start with a list of questions you should be asking before making a purchase, which will arm you with a solid list of requirements before you start browsing for bookcases.

We’ll help you to narrow down your choices with a section on the types of bookcases available including the various benefits of each type and how they work best for you.

Making capital purchases for your business means protecting yourself when buying too, so we provide you with our best practice guide to shopping around, including ensuring that your chosen supplier is trustworthy, legitimate and reputable.

By working through this guide, you’ll know all there is to know about bookcases and you’ll be able to narrow down your choice, helping you to select the very best piece at the best price that will perfectly suit your requirements.



Why use bookcases?

Bookcases, also known as bookshelves, are pieces of furniture designed specifically to store books and other printed materials. They have a series of horizontal shelves, sometimes adjustable to different heights, allowing you to store and display your books in a way that can be easily read. This also helps with retrieval of books when you need them.

Bookcases are used in libraries, homes and offices and vary in size, from low models around the height of a table to ceiling high cases that cover whole walls. They can be fixed to the walls as a permanent feature (which is often the cases in libraries or other rooms that are devoted to the storage of books, or can be one of a variety of other styles, including mobile, leaning or freestanding bookcases.

Sometimes they are fitted with doors on the front; these protect the books contained in the bookcase from dust and moisture damage and are usually made of glass, allowing you to still see the books when the doors are closed. Occasionally, bookshelves come as part of another piece of furniture such as a desk or chest.

Bookcases are popular as a means of storing books because the way the books are displayed makes it easy to scan the names on the spines of books, making for easy retrieval. This also means that bookcases lend themselves well to organisation of books too.

People often arrange books in a bookshelf in some kind of order. This can be alphabetical, by genre, by author or even by colour. Modern uses of bookshelves include the display of trinkets or ornaments too, as well as books. They come in a huge variety of designs, styles and colours, so that they can the existing décor of a room.

Some bookcases come as part of a larger furniture range, meaning even more integration into an overall interior design with, for example, chairs, desks and other pieces.

For businesses, bookcases can be an unusual but welcome addition to the office. It’s not common to see reading areas in offices yet, but it’s becoming more common. Many employers like to offer quiet areas for staff use, with small libraries of important company literature and reading material like management and leadership books. Some employers also allow workers to use a portion of their working time for self-development, allowing them to study courses and topics that will add value to their work.

As well as these uses, many companies have also allowed staff to create their own mini lending libraries, allowing employees to contribute to a store of books that colleagues can take out on loan and return when finished. These can be enjoyed on breaks or quiet periods.

Encouraging reading in the workplace is something that has been slow to catch on, but innovative companies have already recognised the benefits. Allowing staff to develop themselves, learn new skills and keep up to date with events has a benefit to performance and overall morale, while more reading leads to numerous benefits on its own, including improved accuracy, decision-making and productivity.


Top books on management and leadership

If you’re thinking of implementing a reading area, library or research room, you’ll have to start filling it up with books. A great way to start is to purchase a series of books on management and leadership skills. Not only will it give staff food for thought and encourage them to develop new skills, but it will also show them that you are keen to consider promotion from the ranks.

All good managers should have a succession plan in place; it’s likely that at some point you’ll be looking to move up a rung on the ladder. You’ve more chance of success in that endeavour if you’re the kind of manager who upskills her own staff, encouraging them to aim for your job when you land that promotion.

We take a look at some of the absolute best books available on management and leadership. Who knows, you might even find some choice words of wisdom yourself!

‘Drive’ by Daniel H. Pink

Pink topped the bestseller charts with this book that has become a go-to for all modern managers and companies. In ‘Drive’, he outlines why the extrinsic motivators we’ve all come to know and despise (the carrot and stick of reward and punishment) are absolutely not the best way to encourage peak performance and productivity. Instead, introducing us to the considerable research that’s taken place in this field since the 1960s, he explains that humans are motivated more by intrinsic rewards; autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Far from being airy, insubstantial concepts, thanks to his good-natured tone and direct approach, Pink walks us through things that we instinctually know and recognise when we read them for the first time: namely that, once all basic requirements of security are met, we are far more motivated to do work we enjoy, to become skilled in it for its own sake, and to find purpose beyond just being another cog in the machine.

In fact, the only real surprising thing in ‘Drive’ is why more managers aren’t heeding these lessons; the Silicon Valley anecdotes on increased productivity, when managers allowed employees to spend 20% of their time doing work of their own choosing, are particularly compelling.

‘The Age of Unreason’ by Charles Handy

There’s no denying that things have changed; economic certainties have been overturned, workplaces are infinitely more diverse than they used to be and the model hierarchy that we recognise as the ‘Mad Men’ era has largely been eschewed. But times of change also bring uncertainty; without the old models to rely on, many people feel unmoored.

Handy explains why change is not only necessary, but advantageous. Instead of seeking to pin down some new model of work from the current flux of systems we have at present, the keen leader should be looking for ways to harness uncertainty and discontinuity. To do that, you need to be technologically-adept, a lateral thinker and willing to find and form new kinds of organisation; ones that are forward-thinking and which adopt flux as the new model.

‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu

‘The Art of War’ may have been written over 2,000 years ago and, as the title suggests, be a manual of military strategy, but its rationality, subtlety and Zen-like prose means that it’s been repurposed countless times over the years. Now it’s a manual for business, law and life.

Hidden within the many aphorisms in the book are guidelines for not just fighting a war, but also living an honourable life; for realising that force alone does not win in confrontation, and that the smaller can leverage advantage over the larger. These teachings can be applied to interpersonal dynamics, conflict management and personal development and ambition.

While it might seem sparse (his teachings are presented like proverbs, and many publishers bulk up the book with introductions, editors’ notes and historical timelines, so that you feel you’re getting value), it’s actually worth its weight in gold, and will bear repeated re-reading at different points in your life.

‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie

This book is one of the granddaddies of modern leadership writing, being released in 1937. Carnegie was a giant of Capitalism and while some of the writing within can read as a little trite and outdated to sophisticated, post-modern sensibilities, there’s a reason it’s sold over 15 million copies.

Carnegie believed that success, in financial terms, could be attributed to 15% professional knowledge, and 85% expression of ideas, assumption of leadership and the ability to enthuse and excite others. More than anything else, this book is a manual for conducting interpersonal relationships in a way that is beneficial but non-exploitative.

Many of his teachings are still very much in use today; so-called ‘buying facilitation’, which moves the emphasis from selling to someone to enabling that person to buy, feels like a direct child of this book.

‘The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work’ by Shawn Achor

Like many similar books, this one comes with a clumsy title with the strapline baked in. However, Anchor’s approach to success, that the brain is more productive when it’s happy, is a deceptively simple on. Harnessing the brain in order to make it happy is the harder part, and thankfully Anchor has to hand some great research into positive psychology.

Instead of focusing entirely on goals, which can themselves obfuscate success and lead to more prevarication, we should instead focus on becoming more positive in general. When we do so, Achor argues, we engage more with our work and our surroundings, becoming more creative and motivated.

He back this up with considerable research but, thankfully, he then pares it all down into seven practical principles that you can put into action to encourage your brain to be more positive. These include the Zorro Circle, where we focus our efforts on smaller goals to gain the benefit that allows us to gradually tackle bigger ones, and social investment, where we invest in our social support network in order to gain success and happiness.


How to create a library

It’s all well and good throwing up a bookcase and sticking some books on it, but there’s nothing quite like a well-stocked library of literature. Whether it’s fiction for some relaxation and escapism, research material or help with personal development (or a combination of all three!), a library can be a rare but fantastic addition to an office.

It gives employees somewhere to gather at break times when they want to get away from their desks and unwind and can make a perfect backdrop to meetings too. If you’re considering creating a library in your workplace but you’re not quite sure how to start, read our top tips to get your off and running.

The design

First of all, you’re going to designate an appropriate space for the library. Ideally, it shouldn’t be in the middle of the office unless you’re going to use the design to baffle the noise of people working while others try to read.

Make sure you measure the space, and get some rough sketches down on paper; they don’t have to be works of art, you’re just “feeling out” the space to get an idea of where the furniture will go and how people will move through the room. Alternatively, talk to our Sales Team about our free CAD design service if you need some helping planning your space.

The furniture

Next you need to decide what furniture to use in the library. You’ll have a good idea of what’s available and the benefits of each by reading through the guide, and you should pay particular attention to the Question to Ask section, as that will help you to narrow down your choices.

Building a library is different from selecting a single bookcase, though. You’ll want to ensure that you choose a range that is adaptable and suits the needs of the room. Low or corner bookcases might not be best here; instead you’ll probably want wider and taller bookcases that will fill whole walls.

You should also consider what other furniture to purchase. Many of our bookcases are part of bigger furniture ranges, so you can select tables, desks and chairs that will all match. Make sure there is adequate seating and ideally at least one or two tables should people want to spread out books and notes for study.

Deciding what to stock

This will largely depend on the purpose of the library. If it’s a breakout style reading area, you can easily and cheaply stock up on both fiction and non-fiction general books by buying second hand, either online or through charity shops (always an excellent place to feed your collection).

If your library is going to carry more work-related or reference material, be prepared to shell out a little more, although a thorough search online will probably reveal many places that you can purchase used copies of these kinds of books too; many students have to buy expensive reading lists that they’ll only use once, and will look to offload these when they’ve completed their studies.

Cataloguing the collection

It’s up to you how you do this, but you should do it. If you want to make sure that the books are all present and accounted for, you have to catalogue your collection. You might not want to use the full Dewey Decimal Classification System that’s used in libraries, but you’ll still want a relevant and intuitive means of cataloguing your books.

You could choose to so this by subject matter. Sorting and cataloguing the books by subject will also make it easier for readers to find the kinds of books they want easily once they’re up on the shelves. You could also opt for alphabetisation, but this isn’t always intuitive and is usually best reserved for sub-classifying each subject.

Protecting the books

Try to control the amount of moisture in the area of the library if possible; moisture promotes fungus and mould which can lead to loose bindings, stains and mildew. A dehumidifier could help here. You also don’t want books to get too warm either, so avoid storing them in direct sunlight or at radiators.

Air conditioners can help, but you’re looking for the right balance between temperature and humidity. Too warm and dry and the fibres in the books will dry out, causing them to become brittle; too warm and too humid and you create a perfect environment for the growth of mould.

Arranging for loan

You don’t have to worry about this last section if you’re only going to store books for reading in the library, while on break for example. However, if you’re considering allowing employees to take the books out on loan so they can read them at home and on public transport, you’ll need a system in place for tracking the whereabouts of the books. You’ll also need to create and enforce policies on how long people can take books out on loan, as well as what to do if they aren’t returned or are lost or damaged.

Using a computer system is probably the easiest way to track loans, and there are a variety of these available, at different prices. Just do a search online and compare the various options out there. Once this is in place, you can either have someone manning the library (unlikely due to the extra expense) or have a self-serve system where employees can just check out their own books.

Regarding policies on loans, you should consult with staff in advance; if they have contributed to the rules in place for the library, they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership and therefore have more respect for the rules. However, you should be the final arbiter and feel free to consult with HR too to find out where you stand.

Get all employees to sign the policy to show that they have read and agreed to it, and make this a condition of using the library. Once it’s in place, make sure you stick to it; you’ll create an atmosphere of discord if you allow one person to flout the rules only to come down hard on one of their colleagues.

The easiest way to implement a policy on loss or damage is to require the employee to pay the cost of the book; what you paid for it, in most cases. However, be aware that this could result in the library becoming more like a shop. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it will mean you need to keep topping up your stock.




Questions to ask before shopping for a bookcase

Before making any significant purchase, it’s always a good idea to properly ascertain your requirements. Without this, you could end up browsing for hours at countless products, unsure which is the right one.

However, by working this series of questions (we’d suggest noting down your answers as you go!), you can build up a list of needs and requirements that will help you narrow down your search when you start browsing.

How much space do you have?

First things first; there’s absolutely no point in buying a bookcase if you’re not sure whether you have the room for it or not. That means measuring your space accurately. You should measure the room the bookcase will be situated in, and leave plenty of room for people to use it too, or they’ll be cramped when they’re looking at books.

You should also assess the necessary dimensions of the bookcase too. That means working out the maximum and minimum space you’ll need on the shelves, making sure you have enough headroom above the books to retrieve and store them; you don’t want to be squeezing brand-new books into a shelf space that’s too small.

Also consider the overall number of books you have; will one bookcase be enough, or do you need two? Perhaps a modular system would be useful, so that you can add to it as your collection grows.

Another dimension that’s important is the overall height of the bookcase. Smaller bookshelves can be great for small collections, but if they’re too low, people will have to bend or get down on their haunches just to see what books are on the shelf. Equally, a massive collection might suggestion a tall, perhaps ceiling-high, bookcase, but without proper ladders your readers won’t be able to access the top shelves and the books will gather dust.

What kind of material do you need?

All bookcases will store your books, regardless of the material. However, you might want to consider the longevity of the piece, as well as how often it will be used. Wood veneers on an MDF or plywood substrate are lighter and cheaper, but make sure you check to see that they’ll be strong enough to carry the weight of your books, especially larger or coffee table style hardbacks.

Solid hardwood is more expensive, but is generally more attractive and hardwearing. However, real wood needs careful treatment to prevent it from chipping and warping over time. It also makes bookcases much heavier, so you’ll be looking at a more permanent fixture.

Metal can be a good compromise in this regard; it’s lighter than wood, yet strong, and while it can sometimes look utilitarian, modern powder coatings mean you can usually choose from a range of colours. Metal bookcases are also often portable, ideal for a mobile library that can be wheeled into different rooms in the workplace.

Do you need the ability to adjust the shelves?

If your collection is likely to change over time, or if you have a varying range of sizes of books, a fixed-shelf bookcase might not be the most appropriate choice. Instead, you should consider opting for a bookcase with adjustable shelves.

This allows you to mix and match and customise your bookcase to suit your needs, giving you freedom to change it as you need to.

How do you want the bookcase to fit with the room?

The material you choose will go a long way to helping to integrate the bookshelf into the larger interior design and décor of the office, but you could also choose a style that has a partially open back, allowing the light and the rest of the room to become visible and appearing to take up less space. A unit with curved shelves and a semi-open back looks organic and is more likely to blend in.

Do you want to store more than just books?

You might have more than just books you want to store and if that’s the case, you’ll probably want to opt for combination bookcases. These have bookshelves as standard but also come with cupboards and/or drawers. They are available in a wide range of styles and combinations meaning you can integrate your storage with your bookcase.

They will keep items secure and dust-free and look fantastic to boot.

Do you need to protect your books?

If you want your books to be visible but would like to protect them from dirt and moisture, you should opt for a bookcase with glazed doors. These can be either hinged or slide doors, and you can choose from plain or frosted glass. This way people can see the contents but the books are protected until use.

Have you thought about design?

While material and size are both important, bookcases are often feature pieces and, as such, come in an array of designs and shapes. Read on to find out more about the different types and designs of bookcases that are available.


Choosing a bookcase


We’ll break down the various types of bookcase available in the next section, but broadly, bookcases come in one of the following types:


Tall bookcases usually have 5 or more shelves and can be anything upwards of 5-feet tall. Some will reach as high as the ceiling, and these will usually require some kind of adaptation, like a library ladder, to enable users to reach books on the higher shelves.


Short bookcases usually have between 2 and 4 shelves, and are under 5-feet tall, usually significantly shorter. These can either stand on their own, sit on a desktop or be affixed to wall. Usually held up off the ground on legs or panels, you should be aware that lower bookcases can require bending to reach the lowest shelves. This is usually fine for occasional use, but if the bookcase will be regularly used, think about lifting it up off the floor onto a table or desk.


Bookcases usually come as standard, narrow or wide; the difference being the width of the shelves and therefore how many books can be stored on each. Narrow cases can look elegant but are best for a top selection of books, for example, or where you only have a smaller number to store.

Wide cases can store more books but take up far more space. This is ideal for libraries or reading rooms. For the majority of environments, standard bookcases will suffice; they are a compromise between the amount of storage and the amount of space they take up.


Bookcases are most commonly found in one of the following material types:

Real wood

Real wood, or real wood veneer, are two types of material commonly used in bookcases. Real wood are carved pieces that are more expensive and heavier. Once in place, you would expect them to remain there; these can’t be easily moved around. Real wood is luxurious but requires a lot of care to keep it in good condition.

Real wood veneers are an effective compromise; they are lighter, being comprised of a substrate with a veneer top, but the real wood veneer gives the luxurious effect of real wood.


MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard) tops is another common material used in the manufacture of bookcases. We’ll talk about this more in the next section, but MFC is a great material in terms of balancing quality, durability and budget.


MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) was once the top choice for budget furniture, but has been largely superseded by the improvements in the manufacture of MFC. However, it is still often used in educational furniture because it is light and shapes well, meaning it can be produced in a variety of attractive designs including curves and cutaways.


Metal is heavy and very durable, but due to its sometimes-utilitarian nature, it is rarely used on its own in bookcase manufacture these days. More common is a combination of wooden shelves with a metal frame, often with a silver or chrome finish, or as detailing in handles and legs.


Types of bookcases

Wooden Bookcases

If you’re looking for the wood effect without the cost, we carry a fantastic range of wood veneer and wood finish bookcases. Available in a large range of styles and sizes, these are constructed using solid backs and MFC (Melamine Faced Chipboard) tops. MFC is made of wood chips that are pressed into a particleboard then bonded to melamine resin impregnated paper.

MFC was once the poorer cousin to MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard), but recent advances in the manufacture of MFC means that it is thicker, stronger and has a grain-like orientation, giving it improved lateral strength. Overall, this means that you’re getting high quality products at an affordable price that are durable enough to be used in any environment, even in educational establishments.

Combination Bookcases

Combination bookcases offer fantastic versatility, allowing you to present books as well as store items. They come in a range of styles; some offer cupboards, others drawers, while some styles have a combination of both. These allow you to store documents in files or books, along with equipment that can be safely secured away from dust and moisture.

Some styles are designed to be used as presentation cabinets too; they can store books as well as ornaments or awards, and you can also choose lockable options for even greater security. They come in a variety of finishes, including wood veneer and the ultra-modern Kaleidoscope range, with white bodies and bright, vibrant colours on the doors and drawers.

Next Day Bookcases

If you need your bookcases in a hurry, we have a magnificent range for you! Order before 3pm and get your delivery free for the next day (see terms and conditions). There’s no skimping on quality with the Next Day range; you can choose from a wide variety of designs and finishes, including sumptuous wood veneer in oak or walnut with gorgeous, modern, sinuous curving shelves.

We also carry a fantastic range of budget bookcases that are available with next day delivery, so there’s something for every budget.

Delivered Assembled Bookcases

If you run a busy office, it’s unlikely you’ll want to take receipt of a large flat-packed bookcase that you then need to build yourself. That’s why we carry a full range of delivered assembled bookcases. Standard delivery is to the kerbside for a ground floor, but if you have other requirements, talk to our sales advice time who will be able to advise on which products we can deliver to you assembled.

As before, this range covers any kind of budget and offers a variety of styles. These include our best-selling Nexus Curve bookcases which are perfect for creating a library or for use in cafeterias or breakout areas. Using a combination of pieces, you can create a completely bespoke design to your own requirements.

We also have the modern and stylish BN Tento bookcases, which come in a trendy white finish and a variety of other colours and styles, designer bookcases and the Nexus Library range, which includes combination bookcases that have built-in, forward-facing display shelves.

Glazed Door Bookcases

If you want to keep your books protected from the environment, choose something from our fantastic range of glazed door bookcases. With something for every budget, we carry a variety of styles that will integrate easily into your office décor.

The Oakwood and Triumph ranges offer great quality at low prices, while the Venture cupboards are perfectly manufactured using high quality FSC materials and tempered safety glass doors. The Trilogy tall and narrow glass cupboard is perfect for storing books, awards and ornamentation with heavy duty PVC edges to protect from daily use and frosted tempered glass doors. It comes in a variety of wood finishes with metal rail handles and contemporary design column legs in a silver finish.

Home Office Bookcases

If you work from home and need somewhere to store your books, check out our range of home office bookcases, selected specifically from our entire range to work well in your home. Each of these models has subtle finishes and detailing that helps to integrate your office furniture with your home décor, blending in attractively and offering secure storage.

They are available in a series of modern designs, including Spectrum Real Wood Veneer in oak or walnut with fantastic curving shelves, or how about the Leila Real Wood Veneer tall or short bookcases, with their exquisite contemporary detailing with curved corners and solid ash spindle legs.

Whatever you choose, you’ll find something in this range that means you don’t have to put up with the utilitarian clashing with the cosy; these are all fantastic design pieces in their own right.

Classroom Bookcases

If you’re looking for bookcases for an educational establishment, or maybe a work creche, we have a stunning range for you. Available in bright colours and child-friendly materials, we have pocket book display units, freestanding ‘big book’ bookcases with carrying handles that can sit on desktops and draw and see bookcase units that come equipped with either a drywipe whiteboard or an acrylic mirror to encourage interactive learning.

Modular corner cases in primary colours, double-sided angled bookcases with integrated display shelves and our wonderful Bubblegum Book House unit are just some of the other fantastic items in this comprehensive range of educational furniture.

Mobile Bookcases

If you don’t want a fixed place for your books but would instead like the option of moving the bookcase from room to room or perhaps into storage in the evening, you can choose one of our mobile bookcases. A large amount of these are designed for educational establishments like schools and nurseries, but we also carry a range of mobile units that can be used in any office, library or laboratory.

The heavy-duty book trolley is designed to take the weight of a large number of heavy books or files, with angled shelves for easy viewing and retrieval. These are perfect for storing research materials or academic literature that can be wheeled from one room to another, and are equally suitable for libraries, where they can be used for shelf-stocking.

Real Wood Veneer Bookcases

The Spectrum range of real wood veneer bookcases are the height of quality. Comprised of warm, real wood veneer shelves and backing, with a partially open back and chrome supporting tubes, these offer a modern alternative to the traditional bookshelf and would look great in any vibrant office.

With 4 display shelves there’s plenty of room for books or to display ornaments and, with a free next day delivery service, you won’t have to wait long to get them!

We also carry the exquisite and modern Leila range, as well as Venture bookcases with fantastic detailing.

Corner Bookcases

If space is at a premium, our range of corner bookcases could be just what you need. Low profile and in a range of finishes, these bookcases sit neatly in the corner, taking up far less space than larger bookcases. They can also be used at the end of desks, allowing each employee to have their own individual bookcase if you choose.



General best practices when buying bookcases

When you’re making any kind of capital purchase for your business, including furniture items like bookcases, you need to make sure you’re getting the best deal. You also have to protect your purchase, particularly when shopping online. Follow standard best practice and you’ll make sure that you get the best possible product for your needs, and a great price, and from a great supplier. Here are some of our top tips for buying bookcases in the best way possible.

Research your supplier carefully

There’s an almost endless range of options available to you when it comes to choosing a supplier, particularly if you’re doing your shopping on the internet. From preferred suppliers to recognisable High Street brands, reputable suppliers you’ve never used before or even obscure online-only retailers, the choice is yours. There are no right or wrongs here, you just need to ensure you do your homework so you can make certain your chosen supplier is reputable, trustworthy and legitimate.

Some key red flags to look out for when shopping online include:

  • Warnings or security flags from your browser or anti-virus software; most modern browsers are equipped to spot shady online retailers and sites, so always heed their warnings.
  • Legitimate retailers will usually post a phone number and/or their registered office address on their site; if you don’t see any contact details, or only a PO Box address, look elsewhere.
  • As one of the foremost methods of marketing these days, retailers spend a lot of time and money ensuring that visitors get a good experience on their website; if you visit a retailer’s site and see broken images and links, poor or outdated design or bad spelling and grammar, try another company.
  • If prices seem too good to be true, they usually are; look out for the catch!
  • Be wary of buying from a very new or young company or website.

It’s easier than ever to check the authenticity of a website by using the free ‘whois’ service. Just input a URL or IP address and it can tell you all the details of the registered owner of the site, including how long it’s been running and the address of their registered office. It is possible to hide these details behind those of your hosting company, but that is usually reserved for individuals’ privacy. Legitimate companies won’t hide their details so go with your gut; if the details are obscured, you should maybe look elsewhere.

Scammers can clone whole sites in very authentic-looking ways to phish for credit card and other information, but there are usually tell-tale signs. Modern browsers can usually spot this and you should look out for little pieces of information such as misspelled words or incorrect information. Again, use your intuition; if something is telling you all is not well, don’t take the chance.

Even if the site is legitimate, you should be wary of buying from a very new or young company. While they can probably offer you great deals while they try to undercut the competition and gain a foothold on the market, they might not have the proven track record you need to feel secure buying from them. If they go into administration, you could find that any warranties or guarantees you received with your bookcase become null and void, leaving you with no alternative but to shell out the money to replace the furniture if it becomes faulty or defective.

Compare prices

Suppliers differ in all kinds of ways, not least of which when it comes to the price. Thankfully, online shopping has made it easier than ever to compare the prices of products. When you’ve got your chosen style of bookcase in mind, do take some time to search for a number of quotes. You can just visit sites separately or use a price comparison site or browser add-on and remember that like for like quotes can include different manufacturers; just make sure the specifications of each model are similar enough to suit your needs.

It can be worthwhile getting in touch with your chosen supplier to discuss the products in more detail. They can help with specifications that might not be readily visible and can give advice on which products might best suit your requirements. When you’re on to them, why not see if they offer a discount for bulk orders or first-time customers, especially if you’re opening a credit account? Many retailers will offer a discount to secure your business or if you’re making a large order; remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

You’ll mainly be interested in the headline prices, but you should also be aware of other possible charges too. Some of the most common unexpected charges you could find when you visit the checkout page include:

  • VAT: Currently standing at 20% in the UK, this represents a large portion of the overall cost. Some retailers post prices inclusive of VAT and some without; just make sure you know which it is before you agree to buy.
  • Import or export tax: Many people consider purchasing from overseas suppliers to be a great way to get a bargain, as they can sometimes offer knockdown prices. However, you might not realise that you could be charged income/export fees. These are applied by Customs so you won’t see them at checkout; in fact, you’ll only find out when you take delivery of the order. Customs fees can be particularly hefty, especially for large items, so what seemed like a bargain could end up costing you more.
  • Delivery: At Equip4Work, we offer free delivery on most of our items for delivery to mainland UK addresses. However, some suppliers will charge excessive fees for delivery of bulk items or orders; make sure you check the delivery policy on the site before you buy.
  • Express: If you need your bookcases in a hurry, some suppliers will charge even more for express courier services. However, at Equip4Work we stock many ‘next day’ products which means you can get delivery within 24 hours at no extra charge.
  • Admin: Admin fees are relatively rare these days, although you can still occasionally find them added to your purchase, especially if you’re opening a credit account. Just check that you know exactly what you’re paying for in advance, especially if you’re receiving an invoice for your order.

When it comes to buying for your business, price isn’t everything. You’ll also want fantastic customer care, excellent quality products and suitable aftercare, including cast-iron warranties or guarantees. Make sure you factor these into your decision too and don’t just go for the absolute cheapest option!

Don’t be dazzled by gimmicks

Lastly, always make sure that the product you’re purchasing will solve the problems you have. It’s easy to be seduced by modern designs, new technologies and attractive extra features, but there’s no point in paying extra for these if you won’t use them. By following this buying guide, you should have a better idea of your requirements; make sure that you buy something that meets those needs.

It’s obviously important that you take a bit of time and energy to plan any major purchase, and this buying guide will help with that, but don’t find yourself getting trapped in analysis paralysis! When shopping online it’s easy to find yourself stuck in an indecisive loop as you compare hundreds of items, prices and specifications. Just make sure you work out your requirements, narrow down your choices and make a decision and you’ll soon be enjoying your brand-new bookcases!


Further information

Here at Equip4Work, we carry a massive range of bookcases in all styles, materials and types. All of products have clear photos, full specifications and upfront pricing. However, if you need further information on any of our products, or you’d like some help with choosing the right bookcase for your requirements, our Sales Advice Team would be happy to help.

Get in touch by calling 08444 999 222, email us at or complete the contact form on our site and we’ll get back to you.

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Last Modified / Updated on: May 31, 2018 at 11:00 am