Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Craft Show Confidential: Book Display Units

Over the last two weeks, I talked about the usefulness of individual book stands. Their main advantage is their flexibility, both for transport and display. Unfortunately, they can be time-consuming to set up. If you don’t have much time before a show begins, this can be a problem.

This week I’m going to examine book display units that can hold more than one book. These types of displays are geared toward trade show and retail use. Similar to book stands, these units display books so they show from the front. Unfortunately, because they use a form of storage pocket and aren’t open shelves, part of the unit will obscure your work.

This type of display is more expensive and therefore requires a greater investment up front, unlike the individual book stands. Overall, they are also heavier and bulkier to transport. Please note that I didn't cover wood display units because they seemed to be out of the financial (and weight-carrying) reach of a typical artist.

Wire Displays

Wire displays come in both tabletop and floor models:
6 Tier Counter Display - Image by R. WIREworks, Inc.

10 Tier Floor Display - Image by R. WIREworks, Inc.

  • Folds up for easy storage.
  • Durable.
  • Comes in multiple colors.
  • More stable because it has a larger footprint.
  • Less noticeable than heavier shelving/furniture.
  • With some models, you can add signage to brand or identify your work.
  • The pocket prevents books from falling over – your work will be secure.
  • Tabletop units can increase the height of your display and people won’t have to bend over to view your work.
  • Can show more books without taking up much room on your table.
  • Not adjustable.
  • Pocket depth limits the size of book you can display.
  • Overall, more noticeable and can distract from your work.
  • Takes up more storage space.
  • Heavier to transport.
  • Could accidentally be tipped over by customers.
  • Inclement weather could more easily impact your work on the bottom shelves when using a floor display.

Acrylic Displays

While acrylic displays come in both tabletop and floor models, the floor models are so heavy and bulky (and pricey!) that they are impractical for craft shows. Thankfully, the tabletop displays come in many different styles:

Large Three-Tier Acrylic Countertop Rack - Image by Brodart

Three-Tier Acrylic Countertop Displayer - Image by Brodart

Three-Tier Acrylic Countertop Display Rack - Image by Brodart

  • Clear acrylic makes the stand "disappear" into a display.
  • Lightweight.
  • Has a polished appearance.
  • Durable.
  • Displays with pockets prevent books from falling over – your work will be secure.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Can hold a surprising amount of weight.
  • Tabletop units can increase the height of your display and people won’t have to bend over to view your work.
  • Can show more books without taking up much room on your table.
  • Not adjustable.
  • Doesn’t fold up for ease of transport and storage.
  • Prone to scratching.
  • Takes up more storage space – bulky.

These larger types of display units are most easily purchased directly from the manufacturers, library supply companies, or trade show suppliers.

If you have used any book display units at craft shows, whether similar to or different from those shown above, send me an Email with photos and I'll try to include them in a follow-up post next week. Be sure to include your name and a link to your Etsy shop.

Both R. WIREworks, Inc. (manufacturer) and Brodart (library supplier) were kind enough to grant permission for the use of their product photos in this post.


Anonymous said...

This is awesome, thanks so much for sharing! I wonder if anyone here0 has used any of these displays before?

Last year was my first year doing shows and I learned a lot, but this year I was thinking of changing it up a bit and doing a grid wall instead of two tabletops FILLED with books. Really, I had a dream about it and that's why I'm thinking it over;) So, any advice on grid displays would be awesome too!

My only issue with both the grid displays and these stands is purely aesthetic. In the past my table has been completely made up of vintage (or vintage looking) wooden shelves and trays to hold my books. That's kinda my thing- to have everything 'tree' related, and it gives it a homey-ish feel. However, now I'm selling hollow books which call for a real book shelf so I'm slowly moving away from the 'great outdoors' aesthetic anyway, but- still. I liked the idea of having all of my display items appearing to be handmade as well (two of my shelves are handmade actually) and with a grid wall I'm afraid it will look too....storish. Thoughts?

Sorry this got really long...

Ruth said...

I use beautiful wood displays from - I'm definitely sending you a follow up email! They are CNC routed, so they slot together, they're made in New Hampshire and best of all, less than $20. They don't hold as many books as the wire displays but they're a nice "in between"

buechertiger said...

That was an interesting feature. I must admit I had not spend much thought on stands before, - but then, I am doing not many shows. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on that matter;
gave me something to think about...

Blue Roof Designs said...

I agree that the wire displays are not for everyone.

My goal with these posts is to show the range of what's out there. I figure that everyone has to start somewhere...try out the less expensive options and then move up to displays with more visual appeal.

I'm of the opinion that like a house, your craft show display is never really done (groan). You should always be thinking about how it could best work for you and your work.

Blue Roof Designs said...

Thanks for that link Ruth - those are awesome! I just got permission to use their photos, so I'll be showing their display pieces in my next post.