We love our home library to bits but there is one magical addition that I wanted to add to our bookshelves for ages – a miniature book nook. We wrote about creative ways to display your books a while back, but this relatively new feature brings a completely extra level to your book collection and these little scenes would make an amazing gift for a booklover.
You can either buy pre-made book nooks or make your own depending on how handy you are and we explore both routes in this blog post.
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What is a book nook?
A book nook is a tiny little room that you position between your books to give the illusion that that there is another world hidden behind your shelves. This is sometimes also referred to as a diorama or a bookshelf insert. If you haven’t seen these before, we’ve shared a variety of different designs and kits so that you can get an idea of the creative possibilities out there.
Where did the bookshelf insert craze start?
Most people trace it back to a Japanese model maker called Monde who posted his bookshelf insert of an old-style Japanese alleyway on Twitter in 2018 after people praised his exhibits at Design Festa, an international art event in Tokyo. He was deluged with orders via Twitter, but at the time of writing, he doesn’t have a shop so we’re unsure if he’s still making these pieces for customers.
But don’t worry! If you are hankering for your own bookshelf insert there are plenty of people selling fully assembled dioramas and kits online.
There is also a Reddit subgroup dedicated to book nooks . This now has 32.2K members who post images of their own bookshelf dioramas and share inspiration for new designs.
Fully Assembled Book Nooks
If crafting isn’t your bag, it’s possible to get hold of assembled book nooks but they are more expensive – costing anywhere between £130 and £300 ($170 – $390). This is because they are hand-crafted and often sold in small batches. You may have to do a little set up with some of them, but it will be minimal.
Many of the premade bookshelf dioramas are made in the USA, China and Russia so if you live outside of these countries, you need to factor in import taxes, duties and shipping costs which can easily double your price.
We have listed our favourite designs below and at the time of posting, these all have good reviews from customers. However, we have no personal experience of any of these so make sure you check everything out if you’re seriously thinking of buying one. You can also click through the Etsy links to see more pictures.
Japan Old Town miniAlley ™ Book nook from Techarge
This adorable Japanese old-town alley has fantastic ratings on Etsy and comes as a premade model not a kit. It’s made from laser cut wood plus materials made of plastic and moss and has 2 LED lights to add to the enchantment. The sign uses 4 AA batteries. Batteries are not included.
Dimensions: 9.5″H x 3.5″W x 8″D
Ships from the USA
Italian Alleyway Book Nook and Book Shelf Insert – Personalizable from BookNooksOrg
This miniature Italian alleyway is so cute and it has lovely little features – a functioning clock, a secret understairs door under the stairs and a little mirror. As an extra-special touch, the maker will also personalise the signs for you. The battery and power adaptor (for the clock) are included in the price.
For every sale of a Book Nook, Booknooksorg will also donate 20 books to Books For Africa.
Dimensions (L x H x W): 8″ x 8″ x 3.5″
Ships from the USA.
Whimsical “Medieval Alley” themed booknook shelf insert by VegaWoodworks
Imagine your guests finding this secret passage on your bookshelves.
This medieval fantasy diorama has flickering lanterns, bottles, a potion shop, a cat, a tavern and a bakery. The lights in the potion shop window change colour and there’s an angled mirror at the back of the model making the alleyway seem like it extends into the distance. The LEDs are low energy/heat. It’s powered by a 3v(US) wall plug with an switch on the back so if you’re buying these from outside the USA then do consider this.
Dimensions approximately 10″ tall x 8″ deep x 5″ wide.
Ships from the USA.
Magic Alley Booknook from the Wizarding World by PRISTINSKI
This atmospheric bookshelf insert is handmade to recreate an impression of a little peep into Diagon Alley from Harry Potter and comes with lighting and a mirror.
The sign uses 2 AA batteries (not included).
Dimensions: 9.84″ tall x 4.3″ wide x 8.26″ deep
Ships from Russia..
Diagon Alley Version II Booknook Diorama by LaserCuttingDesigns
Another gorgeous model of Diagon Alley which is made from wood and ships from the UK. If you live in Europe, this is a much more affordable premade bookshelf insert and has some glowing reviews on Etsy.
Height 20cm x width 10cm x depth 19cm.
Ships from the UK.
Sherlock Holmes Bookshelf Diorama Insert by LaCasaDelleTreBefane
This Sherlock Holmes inspired book nook is the stuff of dreams. The plywood model recreates an alleyway in Victorian London and has moody lighting to add atmosphere to the tiny diorama.
The Sherlock Holmes wooden plate that’s cut out from the entrance is inscribed with the Arthur Conan Doyle quote ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth’ and can be used as a bookmark. 4 LEDs are contained in the box and powered by a 9 Volt battery which is included.
Dimensions: Height 17 x Width 22 x Depth 8 cm
Ships from Italy.
Can you commission your own book nook?
It seems that most makers aren’t offering commissions at the moment. The only one we can find on Etsy is LaserCuttingDesigns who offer bespoke book nooks from £200. The final cost will depend on the design required so it could cost more than this.
Book Nook Kits
Book nook kits tend to be much more affordable than the premade models and give you the opporunity to add personal touches to your tiny bookshelf worlds.
Romantic Island Book Nook with Light Model Building Kit by DiyCraftArt
This sweet miniature box features a tiny lane in a town with lights. The book book comes as a kit which you need to assemble yourself and according to the seller, it takes approximately 6 hours to make.
You need glue and a battery to complete the model and these aren’t included in the price. This ships from Hong Kong.
Dimensions: 18 L x 8 W x 24.5 H
Calvin & Hobbes-inspired bookshelf art – DIY Kit by HemispheresCo
How fun is this little bookshelf diorama inspired by the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip?
The artwork is designed to fit between comic books, but the exterior is decorated with imagery from Calvin and Hobbes so that you can display it as a standalone as well. There is a switch on the top so that you can gently illuminate the display. It’s made from from laser-cut Baltic Birch plywood.
This is a DIY book nook and it uncludes unpainted wood pieces and a lighting kit. You need duct or painter’s tape, wood glue, and 3 AA-batteries to finish the design.
Dimensions: Height: 8 11/16 Inches; Width: 5 7/16 Inches; Depth: 5 1/4 Inches.
Ships from the USA.
Digital Plans for Bookshelf Inserts
For total DIY enthusiasts, it is possible to buy plans for some of these bookshelf inserts and laser cut the wood yourself. This is a much cheaper option but you need access to the materials and a laser cutter.
When you’re browsing bookshelf inserts online – make sure you read the fine print. If the product price is very low then it’s likely that this is for the digital plans rather than the kit or model itself.
Here are just a couple the bookshelf insert plan digital downloads that are available online:
After a promising start, we hope that the book nook trend will keep on growing – both at the more affordable end and with highly professional models. These little worlds add a completely new dimension to any home library and we definitely want to include at least one on our bookshelves!