Books sold by the linear foot

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I’m not sure who would be impressed by color coordinated books, but I’ve already figured out that both the people who would want books this way and the people impressed by them don’t care what is in them. So I hope they go for it! I’m going to rearrange the books on my e-reader so I can be part of the fun.


Disturbing how much I want to buy a grab bag foot of books now to see what I get!


I had this same thought. I think it’s the same appeal as baseball cards for me when I was a kid, or pokemon cards for my kids now: the appeal of the blind packaging and hoping for one or two interesting ones in a big box of trash.


Forty years ago there was a used book store here that sold books by the pound. A gimmick, not to devorate homes. I went once, bought a book that I wanted,and the price was maybe a bit more than other used book stores at the time. They did weigh it, but I never knew the price per pound. This was before Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy epics that would have been heavier and carried a higher price. I bought Isaac Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves”.

I never went back, it wasn’t where I regularly went. I don’t think it lasted very long, I never heard about it later.

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I knew a grad student couple, who genuinely did love to read, who organized all their books by color. Mostly because one of them happened to be someone who remembered what a certain book looked like, rather than it’s author or title.

But otherwise, yeah, I find it very weird to decorate with random books without even caring what they are.


Books not meant to be read are simply kindling for your house fire.


Back when CurrentTV was a thing they did a mini documentary on Books by the Foot and you actuality can order them by subject, so like if you wanted a bunch of random books on architecture or something you can do that.


I have no problem with using books for their decorative effect. If something’s going to sit there like an idiot for decades at a time between actual uses, it should pull its weight as decor. So if people want to arrange books by color and/or shape, I think that’s probably better in 99.9% of domestic situations, and I’d do it myself if my home wasn’t an esthetic dumpster fire anyway.

But if someone buys books as decoration, it takes all of 300ms to spot that. It’s never even vaguely convincing. I mean just take a glance at the picture in the OP. It’s not just the books themselves; the whole room screams “HLeP I cAnT R∃∃D :paw_prints:”.


In Boston, you can buy books by-the-foot at the Brattle bookstore. A typical example of the kind of books that would be sold this way might be an incomplete set of the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Nice cloth-bound books with gold letters on the spine that look great on your antique built-ins, but are not collectible because it is an incomplete set, or has crayon scribbled inside. (est. in 1825, the Brattle is also just a really cool bookstore!)


How vapid. If i don’t have real books that i care about on the shelf then i would still find meaningful objects to put up. Buying books for the sake of taking up space makes sense if its for a business but for a residence i just don’t understand the point of it.

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You can buy (5 10 or 25) random books and they’ll show up at your door in a few days. I ordered 5 and got one I might actually read and an art photography book I kind of like. I also got

  • The O’Reilly Factor For Kids!
  • A romance novel
  • a business self help book

Confession: I hate owning books. I like reading! I like skimming Kindle samples and determining what to take out of the library. I like supporting authors I love by buying their books from local shops and immediately giving them away when I’m done with them (spoiler: sometimes I’m never done with them! It happens! But more often if I love a book I want to share that love with someone sooner rather than later.)

But every time I’ve had to pack up my (admittedly sparse) bookshelves to move I’ve angrily asked myself why I own these things. Which is to say if you’ve managed to find a way to make books part of your design aesthetic but are admitting they are functionally disposable/interchangeable, I’m oddly fine with that!

No apologies though to anyone who is proud of your carefully curated collection of heavy impractical informational transferal devices and huff at the idea of buying them at commodity prices. Owning books or records doesn’t make you interesting - knowing the contents and being able to speak intelligently about them makes you interesting.

In closing: John Waters took back that whole “if you go home with someone and they don’t have books don’t fuck 'em” thing so don’t come at me with that.

To be fair, if they allowed me to specify ‘must have spaceship on the cover’, I’d have a punt.


This is an abomination of humanity!!!

Should we make a new “show us your bookshelf” thread??

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I once dated a guy whose mom was an interior decorator. She mentioned the “books by the linear foot” thing (a few decades ago) but at the time, much to my complete horror, she also mentioned that some decorators simply prefer to rip the spines off the books themselves and then cleverly position these spines–all glued together in a neat row, mounted on a placeholder made of, oh I dunno cardboard or something.


I bet the rest of those books were not even pulped. I suppose it all simply went in the garbage, as this was well before the U.S. started its paper recycling programs.

Terry Pratchett would have something to say here. He is gone from us, so I will have his characters do the speaking for him (from Going Postal, 2004):

■■■■■ Von Lipwig : No.

Ridcully : Why?

■■■■■ Von Lipwig : Because you just don’t do that sort of thing!

Ridcully : Correct. Books must be treated with respect, we feel that in our bones, because words have power. Bring enough words together they can bend space and time.

Strong recommendation of the movie version, admittedly does not have all the content that is in the book:


People who love books likely don’t have them neat and tidy. Not enough bookshelf space, but also a pile near the bed to read, books on the living room table, cookbooks in the kitchen, books in the bathroom, books everywhere.

The only books I have neatly arranged is ne shelf of technical.books behind my desk, then another shelf of “specual” books that I want to keep handy or acknowledge their importance. Most of the technucal books are elsewhere, a jumble since there’s not enough space and I do refer to them.

The only fiction I have on display are a few that really mean a lot, and it’s just a small selection.


Maybe they want to sleep with John Waters


So turning a book backwards is no longer a thing