How Do You Light a Book Nook? - Bookshelf Memories

How Do You Light a Book Nook?

In interior design, lights are used to draw the eye to areas of interest, add depth and height, and create an impressive balance of shade and light. The lighting can dramatically alter the atmosphere in a room. The same can be done in miniature DIY book nook kits, and without the need for a background in electronics, if you start with a light-up book nook kit. The right lights and appropriate power supply will be included. That’s not to say that if you take on a DIY book nook project, you can’t illuminate it. You can. It’s just going to be a little more cumbersome.

The Why Behind Illuminating Book Nooks

The purpose of a book nook is to create the illusion of a miniature city, or replica of a scene within a book enclosure. On a bookshelf, the book nook slots between books, breaking up the design and introducing a new aesthetic. One that breaks away from bookbinders to invite the viewer to look more closely to discover the miniature world within. From a distance, it’s hard to notice.

By illuminating the book nook, it stands out, and once up close, all the miniature details contained within the design come to life. All the tiny details can be observed clearer, and with even more beauty because light can be used to put emphasis on important parts of the display, and to create shadows, adding another level of immersion to the design.

The Types of Bulbs Suited to Light-Up Book Nooks

Book nooks, being small, and with multiple pieces of different materials can be negatively affected by heat. For that reason, LED bulbs are the safest light source because they don’t emit lots of heat. They’re also easier to work with. Hobbyist LED lights come in different sizes and have various voltages.
The more lights you have, the more power is needed. Most lights will run off a battery, but if you want to add more, you may need to switch from a battery power source to a regulated power supply.

The Different Types of Lights for Book Nooks

example components of a miniature LED light kit for book nooks showing the electronic broadboard with LED bulb, resistor wire and the potentiometer being adjusted to change voltage.

Bulb LEDs

Bulb LED lights are the largest of miniature lights. For a book nook project, a single 5 mm bulb LED installed in the center of the ceiling is enough to light the entire book nook kit. They are available in a range of colors, but the most common are cool white (brightest), and warm white.

LED Chip lights

LED chip lights, similar to mini bulb LEDs have a range of sizes, but these go even smaller. You can mix and match the sizes to suit different lighting needs. For example, use a medium chip LED as a wall light, and the smaller Pico or Z LED chips for lamps, or adding downlights around the ceiling edges of a book nook.

LED strips

LED strips are trickier to work into a book nook because they tend to need cut to size, and draw more power. These are better suited to lighting bookshelves, rather than book nooks on a shelf.

LED Fairy Lights

Fairy lights can be used in book nooks, but it takes some experimentation. A common hack among miniature model builders is to strip back festive fairy lights to use the LED bulbs from them. It’s cheaper than buying miniature lights, but it comes at the expense of knowledge. When you buy LED light kits, the bulbs come with a spec sheet stating the voltage of the bulbs, such as 20 mA (milliamps), as well as the wiring to fit them.

When piecing together a DIY light kit, you need the bulbs, a battery holder and the wiring to connect to the bulbs. Without knowing the voltage of the bulbs, the resistance could be too low resulting in dimmer light, or none. Go too high on the resistance, it could blow the bulb.

How to Fit Lights into Book Nooks

The tools needed for fitting light kits into book nooks are wire cutters, tape, glue, and shrink tubing. Depending on whether you’re using a book nook kit with precut holes to attach bulbs into, you may need a small drill bit to pierce holes into miniature furniture to run the wire through.

The simplest way to get started building an illuminated book nook is to begin with a complete kit that has the lighting kit already included. The best book nook kits for beginners are complete with full lighting, cabling, and power supply. The upside to using a light-up book nook kit is that the types of bulbs will be selected to suit the intended purpose, such as tiny LED bulbs on lamps or shop signs, LED chip lights for the ceiling, and perhaps 2 or more nano chip lights for wall lights, or street lamps.

The instructions within a quality book nook kit with the lights will have the details of which bulbs go where, and are as simple as connecting red wires to red wires, black to black, and then covering with heat shrink tubing (may need to cut to size), after which heat is applied to form a bond over the wire, covering them up neatly.


Why is my book nook kit not lighting up?

When using a miniature light kit, it’s not unusual to have two power switches. The first is to turn the power on at the battery pack. The second is usually a power button located near the front of the book nook so you can turn the lights on and off without having to access the battery back. Once your kit is assembled, check the battery pack is powered on, and the power button is toggled on, too. Otherwise, you can have the battery pack powered on, but the power button to the front of the book nook disabling the power to save battery life.

How long do LEDs last in book nooks?

LED bulbs have a long life span of 100,000 hours per bulb, and draw very little power. Several LED bulbs can be powered with a single-cell button battery. A 3-volt cell button battery like the type used in watches can power a half dozen lights for 24 hours. An accessible on/off power button in your book nook light kit lets you toggle the lights off when not in use to extend battery life.