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Choosing the best cheap bookshelf is largely a matter of appearance and durability. If you are only concerned about price, building your own makeshift unit might be a viable option. For something more stylish, or if you don’t want to build one, buying a used bookshelf is also an option. If neither of those options is appealing, there are a wide variety of bookshelves available in different sizes and styles that are new, cheaper, and easily available.
Probably the easiest way to get a cheap bookshelf is to buy a used one. Yard sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and free online message boards often sell bookshelves for cheap. The only drawback is that they are worn and might be incomplete, such as missing a screw or shelf.
Depending on your needs, building a bookshelf can be a cheap way to go. Putting boards on top of some type of support, such as cinder blocks, can give you a functional, cheap bookshelf. You can often find the materials to build a bookshelf for free or purchase them relatively cheaply. If you choose to build a more elaborate bookshelf the price might go up, but it can still be cheaper than buying a newer one.
For those who want a newer, but cheap bookshelf, many discount retail stores offer pre-made units. These types of bookshelves are usually made from particle board, a cheap but relatively durable wood made from compressed wood chips. Other types of these shelves are made from metal, although they tend to cost a bit more.
Pre-made shelves usually come in pieces and require some sort of assembly. They usually take no more than an hour or so to assemble and often come with their own small tools. One advantage to buying this type of bookshelf is that you can pick and choose a color and style that suits your needs. The disadvantage is that they might not be as good a quality a material as one you can buy used, although they are not as worn.
One thing to keep in mind when buying a newer cheap bookshelf is its resale value. Unless the bookshelf you bought was made of better quality material, perhaps you bought it on sale, it will not sell for much if you are going to resell it. You may only get a fraction of the price that you paid for it, as there are many cheap bookshelves available.