A bookend is an object that is designed to buttress, or support, an upright row of books. It is placed on either end to prevent books from falling over, such as in a half-filled bookshelf. Bookends are both utilitarian and, often, decorative. They are common in libraries and in homes. Heavy bookends have been used for centuries; the simple sheetmetal bookend was originally patented in the 1877 by William Stebbins Barnard, and uses the weight of the books themselves to make an anchor.
Bookends can be an important consideration in home decor. Some bookends are made of bronze, marble, wood and even large geodes. Elaborate and decorative bookends are not uncommon. In libraries, simple metal brackets are often used to support the end of a row of books.