October 5, 2012: Dewey Decimal Redux

Globe & Mail, where have you been? A couple of weeks ago, I caught an article in their online edition in which the Globe has finally picked up on a trend that’s been floating around the design world for a while: the colour-coded bookshelf. (I’ve been obsessing about this for almost two years and I’m not exactly an early adopter.)

The Globe article does a nice job of boiling the trend down to its essentials. On the one hand, there are those for whom bookshelves arranged by colour inspires nothing but anger. “Arbitrary placement by colour makes NO SENSE unless you don’t plan on finding most of those books ever again.” writes one commenter on Apartment Therapy. The author of the Globe piece goes on to praise the alphabetical system as “quietly celebrating the writer by making his or her name the most pertinent piece of information… reducing War and Peace to “turquoise” feels superficial”. And then there’s the purist argument that using books as decor feels inauthentic and suggests you’ve never read them.

On the other side, design enthusiasts stress that it’s important not to take these things too seriously: it’s just design and it can be changed. Books can be arranged one way and then arranged another way… the very next day. No need to get hot under the collar.

In a true act of bipartisanship, as reported in the Globe, Random House is launching its “Books are Beautiful” collection this month – 30 iconic titles each assigned its own spine colour by Pantone so that the collection forms a rainbow on your bookshelf. My quick Google search turned up no additional information on the collection so I can’t report what the 30 “iconic” titles are, but I’m dying to know which books make the list. And how did they assign colours to the titles? Memoirs of a Geisha would obviously be red, but what colour is The Great Gatsby? The Da Vinci Code? Atonement? The trade paperback edition of Fifty Shades of Grey is published by Random House but is it iconic? Does it merit inclusion? And will its spine by painted grey??? Stay tuned.

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5 Responses to October 5, 2012: Dewey Decimal Redux

  1. Mary Fisher says:

    V. clever. Nicely done. Mxo

  2. cathy charles says:

    so what happens when you get a book like “Winter”, lthe Massey lecture series book last year, which is simultaneously printed and released with at least 3 different covers (and colours). How do you decide where to put it in the colour coded scheme of organizing your book shelf?

    Curious Cathy

  3. nb says:

    Great post. Love it.

  4. Pingback: January 25, 2013: Judging A Book By Its Cover | 50pagesadayforayear

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