Books - book spine titles orientation varies

On Book Titles Orientation

Books - book spine titles orientation varies

The problem

Have you noticed? Sometimes when you buy a new book, the book title orientation on the spine is top-to-bottom. But then you also have lots of books, where title orientation is bottom-to-top. Now try to shelve those books in your library – it’s just confusing. To get it right you need to turn some books upside down, which means changing their front cover and back cover position.

I have always wondered, why are some book titles lettered from top to the bottom and some other way round. Now, this Wikipedia page on  Bookbinding makes it clear:

In the United States, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, titles are usually written top-to-bottom, and this practice is reflected in an industry standard; when the book is placed on a table with the front cover upwards, the title is correctly oriented left-to-right on the spine. In most of continental Europe, the general convention is to print titles bottom-to-top on the spine.

Basically, Wikipedia says that mixed shelving of books printed in the US and United Kingdom with the books printed in Slovakia, Germany or Czech Republic is just plain impossible – you can’t get book spine titles in the same position. After checking my library, it is clear that even continental publishers don’t get it right – some use the continental (bottom-to-top) approach, some use English one (top-to-bottom), so you can’t even get Czech and Slovak books to shelve properly.  Those are the troubles of man buying books both from Amazon and from the local Slovak bookshops. I will have to go with a spine shelving technique and compromise by placing some books sideways (and possibly use the foredge shelving technique). Although, I would have expected to have an international standard on spine title orientation by now.

What are your ways to cope with the mixed title orientation on the book spines?

  • Kindle will fix it :-)

  • Name_not_available

    Ooooh, if you turn some books around, the cover will be on the opposite side! How terrible, when the cover isn’t even visible!

    Seriously, this is the first blog/webpage/whatever, that I am taking out of RSS after 3-4 posts, because this is plainly stupid non-sense. I expect backlinks, adsense, etc. to show up here in a few weeks. Bye.

  • Daniel

    Well, details matter.

    As for the backlinks, adsense etc. – I have plenty of backlinks over here already. Adsense, too – it appears after two weeks of post published.

    When posting ridiculous comment next time, do it as a honest person with a name – not a troll like you did this time. I should be adding troll cap as 37 Signals have on their blog – the first one goes to you, enjoy it.

  • Aan

    well, it’s just personal blog, so I dunno who is awaiting some brilliant thoughts, but slovak blog had better posts compared to these 3

    I learned new information why is top-bottom orientation more logical, so that one should be used as standard

    but 1st comment is right, can’t remember last time I’ve read (paper) book

  • Daniel

    Well, different topics, indeed, but that was what I planned.

    Anyway, it’s been four days and three posts, so I am going to slow down a bit and also plan for other topics.