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Probably depends on whether you have books because you're a reader or because you use them as a decorating element. Readers want to be able to find books quickly: this means "spines out." Decorators presumably have reasons they believe "spines in" adds to the decor.

Beyond that? Pages-out looks careless ("I shoved them on a shelf and can't be bothered to neaten them up"), or stupid ("Hey, I don't actually read them!). If there's a point, I can't see it.

I just went through my hardcover books (admittedly, I have a lot of books) and removed all the paper jackets. Oh, I've kept the jackets - for now - but I decided that these aren't books I'm going to try to sell at some point. I have no collector's items or first editions. If my heirs think they can make money selling some of my books, more power to them; they can re-join books and jackets.

Meanwhile, I have one classy-looking bookcase. If you're after impact, forget that books-by-color nonsense. (Who has that many books of nearly the same size?) If you have hardcover books with plain cloth or (best of all) some kind of leather covers, take any jackets off and display the books together. Even a few books grouped between nice bookends will look great amongst objets d'art.

And there's this line from the article "The case for pages: it harks back to leather-bound tomes" - in what world? Take a look at the library in any historic house. Leather-bound tomes abound. You won't find any shelved with spines-in.

As trends go, this one fits right in with mullet haircuts and moonboots.

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Horror. As someone who worked as an archival bookbinder in my younger years, it disturbs me that this is even a question. I work in fashion now and have done for twenty years, so I can see a “look” but a stylist move without thought is just silly. Spines are there to protect the book and binding from damage, and to navigate a collection...madly. It’s just a bit wilfully stupid to do otherwise. If you like the look of leather bindings, by all means, collect them.

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Rayna Tullett

If you don't want to see the spines and colourful covers of your books, put them in cardboard boxes and hide them in a cupboard. It's not like you're a reader anyway.


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