What's the best way to arrange books?

Readers of my other blog will know that I’m an avid book reader. (Some also believe that it’s the only thing I do, which is not true; I also blog.) I like to browse for books to buy in bookstores and for books to read in the one library that I’m a member of. The one thing that I’ve noticed wherever I’ve been is that there isn’t a good way to arrange books so that they are “browser-friendly”.

If you arrange books standing up, so that the spines of the books are facing you, then reading the titles of the books requires you to crane your neck. It’s easier though to remove books that are arranged this way, unless they’re packed together with a vengeance.

The other way to arrange books is to lay them down flat on their backs, one on top of the other, so that the spines are facing you. This way is a little easier to read but the removal of books is slightly more difficult, especially if you’ve got high stacks.

The shelves on which the books are placed also determine readability of the titles. Trying to read the spines of books that are in the lower shelves is a challenge, especially if they’re arranged standing up. I guess that’s why the best sellers or the books that the bookstores want to sell are displayed in prominent areas. That doesn’t help libraries much though.

One workaround is to search for the books using the available book search facility, which at my library has an atrocious user interface, but that takes away the fun of browsing in a physical store. I might as well go to Amazon.

I don’t know what the optimal solution is or even if there is an optimal solution. Maybe that’s part of the thrill of finding a book you’re looking for or one that you didn’t expect to find. Maybe it has to be a little hard sometimes.

What do you think?

PS: I’m partial to laying books down flat especially for paperbacks; some tend to warp if they’re standing up too long.

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2 thoughts on “What's the best way to arrange books?

  1. I have a combination of both at home. Books that I tend to read more often are arranged in stacks of small sizes, and those that I don’t use very often are kept standing up. And yes, those in paperback take a beating if arranged standing up. I’ve peeled out the covers of a few paperbacks when removing them from the arrangement.

    I’m not sure what could be the best arrangement for a library or a book store, since each arrangement has it’s own advantage. Most book stores I’ve seen opt for the “standing up” arrangement, since it’s easy for the customer to remove the book from the shelf.

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