Books can be sorted in different ways. For authors, for example, alphabetically by title, by year of publication – or not at all. What most book lovers are less worried about: the look of the shelf. My friend just throws them on a stack without caring if they are horizontal or vertical.
On Instagram and Pinterest, however, you can currently see bookshelves that are subordinate to a new principle: They are filled with “Backward Books”, books that are placed with the spine to the wall and the white paper edge to the front.
A shelf full of upturned books fits better in this modern and minimalistic style – just white and a few thin, subtle edges.
A living room, which is only in black and white, sure is a matter of taste. But in the backward books, there are quite some practical problems:
How the hell would you ever find a book on such a shelf? From the back, all books look quite similar. Anyone who owns more than just ten books will have it difficult to separate the individual books.
You want to look up this witty quote again? Your girlfriend wants to borrow the novel that you told her the other day? If you do not have a photographic memory, have fun pulling each book off the shelf!
Dusting also becomes a fight – a series of book spines can be quickly wiped off, a series of book pages are not. Slowly, dusty mice gather in the minimalist dream shelf.
If you have books because you want to read them, store them so that you can find them again. If this is not the case, books do wither as decoration.
Books as a decoration are certainly not a fundamentally new phenomenon. We probably all know somebody who has sorted his books by color. And the reason that bookcases are often in the living room and not in the storeroom is certainly that they also make a room cozy.
Nevertheless, the Backward Books go one step further. And at the same time they express a culture that is increasingly focused on the visual: on whether an object or an experience is suitable for social media.
Instead of rushing for food, the smartphone is unpacked and the best filter is sought while the burger is cold and the ice cream drips onto the hand. A holiday is not designed to be restful, but to provide as many photo opportunities as possible in front of dreamscapes.
That this development now also reaches books is a shame. For books contain, unlike burger or ice cream, answers to just about all questions of life. They make us smart, they make us think, they can comfort and entertain.
And therefore they should not be degraded to pure decorative elements.
Of course, one could argue that the printed book is outdated anyway. With e-books and e-readers, entire libraries can be stored on a palm-sized device. And that a shelf wall full of real books one way or another becomes a status symbol.
But if you love books, you usually love the book itself – with beautifully designed covers, dog-ears and markings. He wants to be able to pull these books off the shelf every now and then, look at the favorite places and the places where you cried into the paper or spilled red wine.
And that just will not work if the whole bookshelf is a single, instagram-optimized white wall.