When you go to line a bookshelf with books, how do you face the spines? If you say out, you’re with the majority of people — it’s the way libraries have always done it and makes sense so you can see the titles.
But there’s a new trend making waves in the interior design world that involves lining the shelf with the spines facing in, and it’s causing quite the controversy.
A recent Buzzfeed article called attention to the fad, pointing out how ridiculous it is especially for bibliophiles who prefer to which book they're grabbing. In the site’s opinion poll, 87 percent of readers said doing it this way was an abomination.
Natasha Meininger, who runs the Outside and In interior design blog, is on the other side, however, supporting the trend and posting pictures of it on her Instagram account.
“My book collection is huge so it was important to me from a design standpoint to find a creative way to store my accumulation,” she explained to TODAY Home. “I have read thousands of books. I’ve only reread about 20, so I don’t find it necessary to be able to find a specific title that I’ve already read at the drop of a hat."
The main argument for why designers like this look is that it shows the whites of the pages, creating a cohesive color palette on your bookshelf. “I love the sculptural effect you get by facing the pages out,” Meininger added.
TODAY editor Jen Birkhofer loves the look, too. After seeing it on Instagram this summer, she gave it a try in her own apartment. "I hated how we had so many books, but they were all different colors," she said. "I'd tried to kind of color block them and make them look nice — as Pinterest has shown me — but it just didn’t work. Now that I’ve turned them all around, it matches more with the look of our bedroom and I don’t have to stare at my husband’s maroon copy of 'The Intelligent Investor.' Win, win."
Of course, not everyone is a fan. Instagram user Liz Schreiber, aka @leaningtowerofbooks, tried the look as part of a Halloween “spooky shelfie” challenge, where users posted pictures of their scariest bookshelves. “As I’m not really a Halloween person, I don’t have any spooky decorations,” she wrote in the caption. “Instead I realized that not knowing which book is which is rather frightening to me.”
She told TODAY Home that while she faced the pages out for an Instagram photo, she prefers being able to see the spines of her books. "Like a lot of others, I have spent time arranging my shelves in a way that I find visually appealing using spine color, series and size to sort them," she explained.
While Shreiber finds the inside-out trend downright scary, some people are embracing the mystery. In fact, some bookstores are creating “Blind date with a book” displays, which hide the covers with brown paper bags so readers will be surprised when they get home. I guess you really can't judge a book by its cover that way.
The bottom line? if you’re not adamantly opposed to hiding the spine of your favorite books and are looking for a new way to decorate your bookshelf, this trend can be a beautiful thing to try.
This story was originally published Nov. 21, 2017.