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Thursday, March 11, 2010

CSN Bookcases: The Bookcase and the Review (Plus Video)

So, you all remember a long time ago when I mentioned that I was reviewing a bookcase for CSN Bookcases? Well, I've finally got my bookcase built and settled into its new place in my apartment. Now I'm going to talk about it and review it, but not without a little silliness on my part.

The bookcase I received for review was the ORE 4 Tier Book Shelf in Black (R597-4). It's a medium-sized metal shelf with an open back, breathing shelves, and open sides. The shelf came in a fabulously bubbled-wrapped cardboard box that could probably be used as a flotation device if the Great Flood ever hits my part of Florida. I feel very reassured about my safety now. See for yourself:
I have no doubt that it would float even with the materials for the shelf inside. I say this in jest because I find it humorous. The good news is that my shelf wouldn't have experienced the full brunt of the surely brutal treatment UPS would have given it.

Before I get into my review of the actual product, I have, for your viewing pleasure, a silly video I made of the assembly process. Watch at your own risk (and if you're the kind of person who stops watching movies at the credits, I've intentionally put things in the credits and after to entice you). Enjoy:
video
Now that that's over with, I'll get right to the review of the shelf and CSN Bookstores.

The Shelf
The ORE 4 Tier Book Shelf is remarkably simple to put together. It comes with all the tools you need (a little Allen wrench) and a single page for the instructions. The instructions aren't confusing either. They're very simple and straightforward. I only occasionally hit a snag when a screw wouldn't catch properly, but, for the most part, assembly was a cinch. This is probably its most practical feature.

Visually, this particular shelf has one thing going for it, and one thing going against it. First: while the screws are black like the rest of the shelf, they are slightly noticeable on the outside of the supports. I'm not sure how this could be improved for future versions, but if you are more interested in the kinds of shelves where the connections are not visible, this one might not be for you. Second: despite the noticeability of the screws, the shelf does look quite nice, especially with books on it (though I may be a tad biased here). I've actually raised the shelf off the floor with a set of plastic bed-frame raisers, which creates a bit of space underneath the shelf and provides significantly more support (this particular shelf is a tad top heavy, so you shouldn't put your biggest books on top if you can help it).

All in all, I'm much more satisfied with this shelf than I was with the annoying mylar contraption currently holding a large quantity of my books. For one, this shelf doesn't start bowing the second you put something on it, unlike mylar shelves. It also isn't easy to break. The bars that act as supports for the shelves can bend, but because they are made of metal, they don't do so easily. I've had a lot of books sitting on this thing for about a week and there is almost no bowing at all.

I'd recommend this particular shelf to anyone who is on a budget, but doesn't want to buy crap. I can't speak to the quality of other ORE products, but in terms of holding up to punishment, this particular ORE does so just fine. That, to me, is more important than how a shelf looks. Some of the mylar ones have a nice look to them (artificial though they may be), but they fall apart when put to the test of a few dozen books. The ORE 4 Tier would also be a good fit for college students (you know, for all those college books we're supposed to be reading).

CSN Bookcases
I've said a few things about these guys before. I'll unfortunately be repeating myself a bit here. So be it.

CSN is really a fantastic place if you're looking for furniture. They don't have everything, but they do have a very wide selection of shelves, tables, sofas, etc. And they have reasonable prices. Every time I look around for stuff I'd like to eventually put in my apartment I find things that are either the same price as on Amazon or Walmart, or cheaper (sometimes by as much as $30)(no, they aren't cheaper or the same price all the time, but no store ever is).

What makes them better than other websites, however, is that the price you see is the price you pay. Shipping is already factored in, so you already know from the start how much you're going to have to pay. This isn't true of Amazon or Walmart, who sometimes hide the shipping costs or won't tell you until you get to the checkout section. CSN doesn't do that.

I don't think much more needs to be said: good prices, great selection, and straight forward pricing. All good things in my book.

So, thanks CSN for offering me a free shelf. I expect I'll be doing business with you in the future (I have my eyes on a futon and a desk).

In case all of you reading this haven't seen the final product, here it is (with books!):

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