How Should RPG Books Be Organized - on your shelf?

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
When I first saw this thread title, I thought it was talking about how we organize our RPG books and files

And while an interesting discussion, not what I was expecting.

So now, here's the thread about what I was expecting!

I'll start with an interesting link to a study done by YouGov

Here's a relevant graph

How should RPG books be organized on your shelf?

For me, I'd organize from top to bottom by most used system to least used system, with the top shelf at my eye level.

However, the reality of my shelves means that there's a "short" shelf between two "taller" shelves. So on that short shelf goes all my graphic novel sized RPGs - mostly indie RPGs. Apocalypse World, Burning Wheel, Microscope, Dungeon World, etc. Below that shelf are more D&D books, and then GURPS books.

Above it are my D&D books, going in reverse order of edition. However, my AD&D "modules", Dragon Magazines, and other non-core books of that size go over on another shelving unit entirely. I'm not sure why! And under those are my Traveller LBBs.

Finally, in another room entirely are 3 shelves filled with my "to read" RPG books in order of most wanting to read to least wanting to read.

Oh, and Finally finally, my electronic files are mostly organized by game title in alphabetical folders. Some exceptions: Anthologies, Larps, "games I'm running" and "games I'm creating" get their own folders.

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I do not think I own 100 books anymore. I have a shelf for the books I have on animals, plants, and gardening that is randomly organized. My D&D collection is a stack on my basement table, but it is just a few 5e books that I'm not using. Any older edition books I still have are in a box sitting on the basement shelf. The current 5e books I use sit in my book bag that goes to the game.


I have nowhere near that many books, but PDFs, yeah…

By game, by type (DM facing, player facing, adventure) with possibly subcategories (eg monster manuals go together within the DM section, adventures are grouped per setting, etc.)


B/X Known World
How should RPG books be organized on your shelf?
There are lots of organizational schema out there. I prefer by edition then alpha by title. Game lines are wherever they fit.

Also, wow. That split seems very low. We have more than 250+ books in the living room. There's another two rooms each with 250+ books. There's a dozen books on various surfaces throughout the house. And a rack of about 50 cookbooks in the kitchen. Not to mention however many PDFs and epubs. We both have ereaders and library cards. Me and my wife are avid readers.

We organize our shelves differently. My wife splits hers between read and to-be read. Then it's by subject/genre.

I mostly try to keep genres together, mostly. I also mostly try to keep authors together, mostly. But it all depends on what fits on the shelf.


B/X Known World
I think a lot of this is dependent on real estate prices and how often one moves.
In part, sure. The last time I moved I hated moving all the boxes of books. But it's ultimately worth it. I would rather that than not having physical books. Comic book stores have the best boxes. Very sturdy and small enough for floppy monthly comics. More boxes to move because they're smaller, but also keeps the weight reasonable even if filled with books.
The second time we moved 11 heavy boxes of my books alone, my wife suggested it was time to start thinking about a Kindle.
We went with Kobo ereaders with eInk screens. Really helps for long reading sessions. No eye strain from the screen.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
Oh gosh. This thread needs a trigger warning :D :D :D

I have close to 4,000 print RPG products (including magazines) and perhaps another 1,500 novels and reference books. How to organize them is a constant struggle!

My novels are organized pseudo-library style, by genre then author, but then grouped by series, rather than strictly by title. Novels are easy.

My RPG books are generally grouped by shape/type of product first, so all of the boxed sets share shelves because they stack better with each other than with hardcovers and softcovers. After that, I organise by RPG, then edition and/or campaign setting. The 4e stuff and the 5e stuff each has its own section. For earlier editions, things are sorted mostly by campaign setting, so the first two decades of Forgotten Realms stuff is together. On any specific shelf, within an edition or a setting, books are placed in release date order, unless there is a compelling reason not to do that (e.g. the 5e special covers are all together, not mixed in with the normal covers).

Magazines have a separate set of shelves to themselves. Those are placed in order, obviously, with boxes that keep large numbers of magazines together more neatly. Note to any robbers: If you are in a hurry, go for the box with the first 40-odd issues of Dragon in it. Per kilogram that's by far the highest value item in the house!

Organising a collection once takes time, but isn't stressful. What makes it a constant struggle is regularly adding new items. Any organizational scheme fails eventually if you keep adding stuff. An accurate description of my current library would be 90% "obsessively carefully organised" plus 10% "new stuff shoved into any available air gap between the shelves and the well organised books".
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I have two sets of shelves collapsing under the weight of RPG books.

One of these has non-D&D and D&D-setting books (FR, Dragonlance, Eberron, etc). These are organised alphabetically by top title (so all the Eberron books are together under 'E', for instance). In each case, the books within the section are ordered rulebooks-setting-advetures.

The other set of shelves as all my D&D materials, ordered by edition, plus on special shelf set aside for my current game (D&D 5e right now). Again, the order is rulebooks-setting-adventures.

And then all the other 'stuff' (dice, maps, handouts) is randomly shoved around the edges.

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