Today we welcome a guest post from the fabulous Helena Robin, The Home Librarian! She has been curating personal libraries for over 20 years and generously shares her tips and tricks specifically for short term rental hosts! 

Perhaps because of the doom and gloom reports that physical books are an endangered species, people have become even more attached to them.  Backing up this idea, Apartment Therapy  (the well-known hub for all things interior design) revealed that their most-liked image of 2019 was of a living area starring a massive wall of books.  For reference, they have 2.4 million followers on Instagram alone. Providing a library for your guests will certainly boost your property’s visual appeal, but it will benefit you in other ways as well. Book People are a loyal tribe who will stay with you, become repeat visitors, tell their friends and followers on Goodreads about you and, and leave you 5-Star reviews.  Your property might even end up being included in one of the many articles being written on Buzzfeed, Bustle, PopSugar, Book Riot, Mental Floss, Medium, NY Times, CBS, Lonely Planet, Travel & Leisure, etc. about the best STR’s for book lovers.  Seriously.  Airbnb even regularly features them on their blog.

Don’t worry! You don’t need  a giant floor to ceiling wall of books. There are many creative and affordable ways to add a smaller library into your property. Adding shelves to an awkward space like beneath stairs or sloped ceilings is a great way to add books and solve a challenging design situation.  Bedrooms are perfect spots for books. They can be arranged on top of a dresser or in a low bookcase used as a nightstand.  Coffee table books, you know – the books that are mostly gorgeous pictures meant to be flipped through at leisure – are perfect on…coffee tables.  Do you have a wide hallway? Adding a “hallbrary” is a great use of that space. Another option is to think vertically. Spine bookcases, either ones that are wall mounted or stand on the floor are good looking, convenient and space-saving.

One of my favorite places to incorporate books is in properties that advertise having Cooks Kitchens. Aside from the must-have amenities serious chefs want to see, give your kitchen a boost with a collection of regional cookbooks. Give your guests a little extra something by tucking little notes into the pages of the recipes you love best or are especially popular in your neck of the woods.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money buying brand new books as long as you buy used books in good condition. I don’t ever recommend using collectible or heirloom books. Hardcovers are usually always sturdier and will last longer. But, many people prefer to read paperbacks – especially when it’s a light mystery, a staple of vacation reading. If you go this route just make sure to replace well-worn copies. Used book stores are great places to shop and thrift stores like Good Will have book sections as well. If you don’t want to depend on in-store options to stock your library two websites I use regularly are Thriftbooks.Com and BetterWorldBooks.Com.

Keep in mind the kinds of people who stay in your property and remember that most of them are unfamiliar with the area. Add local interest books they can use to inspire sightseeing whether they’re official travel guides or books about local attractions.  Readers will love novels that take place in the area and books about local history. Do you have a fair number of families? Incorporate some kids’ books and avoid “50 Shades of …” anything.

Don’t feel pressure to create a library filled with Literature with a capitol, “L.” (Unless, of course, you want to brand your property as an actual destination for readers. Which would be amazing, but your needs are a different article all together!) Your guests will most likely be coming and going so keep novels on the shorter side. Choose books that are 200 pages or less. Anthologies and collections of short stories and essays are great choices because they offer selections that can be completed in short spans time.

Adding a library to your short term rental is an easy, affordable way to distinguish yourself from the other properties in your area. Libraries increase the visual appeal not only among readers but also among people who appreciate good interior design. Having helpful, entertaining and interesting books available for your guests will enhance their experience and inevitably generate more 5-Star reviews.

Helena Robin is The Home Librarian and has been curating personal libraries for over 20 years.