Practically everyone makes use of some sort of bookcase, whether they have books or not. Some of the simplest and most utilitarian furniture in the home, bookcases, take a fair bit of gussying up to look more flamboyant than they really are. However, how many people out there ever really think about the history of what has probably been one of the most standard pieces of furniture in our homes; the bookcases are probably the best pieces of furniture designed by mankind.

When books first started appearing, they had to be inscribed by hand. As such books were highly prized possessions of only the very wealthy and religious institutions, they were generally stored in specialized boxes and containers. Shelving for any larger quantity of books was quite unnecessary.

The Asian tradition took a rather different course. Books and bookcases were quite common in Asian homes and libraries, but the bound book format was not the dominant one when it came to traditions. Scrolls were much more preferred to store Asian literature in ancient times.

The storage of scrolls was generally done on shelves that were much deeper, and often partitioned into many square or rectangular spaces to separate and organize these scrolls. The shelving was then often hidden away in closets or placed in private studies. The minimalist Japanese aesthetics, and the fact that scrolls could not be displayed on shelves in the same manner as bound books are reasons why well laden bookshelves did not emerge as a common display item in these cultures.

The art scroll is a very common item that comes to mind whenever one thinks of Asian art. The hidden shelves of a Japanese home were an important part of Japanese interior design. As many might have heard, a traditional Japanese room that features rotating displays of art work or flower arrangements within the Tokonoma (a small raised platform at one end of a room). Art was not to be constantly arrayed on display as this would overwhelm the viewer; instead art had to be enjoyed sparingly on its own. The shelving discussed above was an integral part to maintaining a well-organized art collection and deciding which piece to display next or what text to immerse yourself in. All this eventually lead to formulation of bookcases that were not only used for storing books, but also used for displaying art.

As books became more common, especially after the invention of the printing press, so did bookcases. Initially these were in the form of closed cabinets. These initial designs were what would soon turn into the standard bookshelf design we have all come to know so well. Some of the oldest shelves in existence have been located in Bodleian Library at Oxford University, in place since the end of the 16th century.

Bookcases are not just used for storing books, but they are also used to display priced possessions and valuables like trophies, mementos, any special picture frames, etc.

When choosing the right bookcases, there are a number of choices available when it comes to choosing the material, the finish, the type or the style, the height, the width, the depth, etc.

Some of the finishes that are offered at most of the retailers are :

* Light Wood

* Medium Wood

* Dark Wood

* Black

* White

* Grey

Some of the types of bookcases that are manufactured are:

* Standard

* Over sized Set

* Barrister

* Decorative

* Cube Units

* Stackable

* Corner Units.