*I don't typically post about client projects since they pay for my services and it seems wrong to share that work with everyone, but I can talk about this example because I did this for my cousin...and she's not an official client :)
To give you an idea of the starting point, here is the before shot:
To begin, let's talk about an important step: accumulating and organizing the books. You'll notice that there are well over a hundred books in the image at the top. The biggest challenge for most of my clients is that they don't have enough books...or they have a high percentage of tattered paperbacks.
Hardcover books are key to achieving a sharp looking display. If your stock is low, I'm a HUGE fan of Coralie Bickford-Smith's hardback classics sets. They are a terrific investment...not only for their beauty but also for their content. The clothbound ones sell for about $12 per book on Amazon and the F. Scott Fitzgerald ones are just a bit more.
If going on a book-buying spree isn't in the budget, hardcover books can be bought in lots on Ebay, at estate sales, or from book resellers like Half-Price Books. As a book-lover, I hate that it's a shallow, quick-n-dirty way of "collecting" books, but hey, it takes years (and money) to build up a solid library and an empty bookcase looks pretty sad!
Once you have a whole lotta books, sort them. Aside from the sets (like above), I usually sort by color because it's visually pleasing. A bookcase is a great place for color, however, you might not want every color of the rainbow represented in your shelves.
Say you have a whole bunch of burgundy books (which is pretty common) and you would rather not have blocks of burgundy in the case. My advice is to cover those ugly books with some fabulous paper that coordinates with your desired color scheme. Wallpaper remnants are great to use or you can shop the fine paper section at Paper Source. Here are some of the ones I like, including the neutral cherry blossom one that I put in the design above to tie in with their grey walls...
Covered books can be labeled on the spines with pretty handwriting or if your penmanship isn't display-worthy, print out book titles on labels like these ones with notched corners. Etsy seller Neapolitan created these gorgeous covers with marbleized paper and stunning calligraphy...
This part of the process can definitely take time, so start tackling it immediately if you want your bookcase to look pretty sooner rather than later!
So, what is your book collection like? Do you own lots of hardback books? I only buy hardcovers now because I had the too-many-paperbacks dilemma. Luckily my parents read constantly and have way more books than they could ever display so I get their hand-me-downs too.
If you don't have enough hardbacks, would you ever buy a big lot of them? And would you try to recover books to make them more suitable for display?