We are often asked what the difference is between a bookcase and an etagere. Although very similar, they are two different types of furniture. Both are pieces of furniture with several shelves. Etageres are airy-looking and feature open backs and sides. They are commonly used for displaying decorative items and for books. Bookcases are designed for sturdier storage. They almost always have a back, which can help them support heavy items and books. Bookcases can be either freestanding or built into a wall. Shown here are examples of each.