Books sold by the linear foot

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


To be fair, some of this falls in the realm of photo stylists and catalog shoots. It’s easier to coordinate backgrounds and colors with books ordered en masse like this


My wife has been organizing books on our shelves by color. More specifically, the ones on the shelves where she has to look at them.

She used to work in a library and at one point was considering getting a masters in library sciences, but neither of us are really up for organizing them in any other way at the moment.

“A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot.
“What do you think?” he demanded impetuously.
“About what?”
He waved his hand toward the book-shelves.
“About that. As a matter of fact you needn’t bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They’re real.”
“The books?”
He nodded.
“Absolutely real — have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and — Here! Lemme show you.”
Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the bookcases and returned with Volume One of the “Stoddard Lectures.”
“See!” he cried triumphantly. “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too — didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?”

I’ve run into uncut pages at the Library of Congress.


If you keep the now unbound pages, you can then feed them into a sheet scanner.

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So has Mark Foley.

Wow, that didn’t take long at all!


A quick estimate says the books currently on my phone would take up ten meters of shelf space and weigh 120kg in paper form. Before I got the Kindle app, books were becoming a genuine structural hazard in my apartment, and purging them was a major exercise (gasoline isn’t cheap) (j/k). So AFAIC there is no need to apologise for avoiding them.

When people get sanctimonious about the smell of real books etc., I just think “enjoy sniffing the seven or eight books you’ve ever owned” and go back to enjoying my uncollapsed floors while reading as much as I like.




Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500, I believe. Had to buy one to replace my old one that didn’t have drivers to work on Windows 10.

Interesting. On some of the forums I frequent, I constantly hear complaints about how Fujitsu and Apple (with MacOS 10.15) are engaged in a joint conspiracy to make expensive scanners obsolete. But if Windows 10 does the same thing, then maybe Apple isn’t being egregiously unreasonable.

(I own a SV600-- which doesn’t require destruction of the book. Alas, it doesn’t have anything as reasonable as a SANE driver)

I have no idea how many books I ha e in my kindle, but it’s a whole lot. I only get actual books theses days if that’s the only format it’s available in, it’s some kind of art book/comic book, or if it’s something I’m going to want to lend to people.

I’ve moved too far and too often to take many books with me, so all except the most recent ones have tended to be in boxes somewhere anyway.