What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You?

Posted on October 24, 2009

People's bookshelves can offer fascinating insight about the owner. There are over 50,000 photographs of bookshelves on Flickr - see here.

The BBC has an interesting article about what your bookshelf says about you. You can tell a lot about what a person likes if their bookshelf is focused on a particular theme or subject or even if they have a particular book on the shelf.

"Books were immensely prestigious," says Ms Geddes-Brown. "Not only did they show how very learned you were - you could read - but they were also very expensive. At one throw, you proved your intellectual and monetary value."
Book displays can also be manipulated to "present a certain front" says book blogger Peter Sandico.
Peter Sandico is a firm believer in books as an extension of the self. A book blogger, who is collecting photos of readers' shelves in his "bookcase project", he says the magic of book display is the ease with which they can be manipulated to present a certain front.

Sandico told BBC News, "The books we choose to display in our bookcases say a lot as to how we want others to see us. People who want to appear to have serious or academic reading tastes display their classics, while keeping popular novels at the back of the bookcases."

Some of the big nonfiction books that sell each year about past presidents could be one of those books people put on the shelf just for show. The article also mentions bookshelves that have a minimalist theme. That seems somewhat pointless. If you have a bookshelf it should be filled with wonderful books.

The article also says IKEA's Billy bookshelf is immensely popular. 41 million of them have been sold since 1979.

Billy is a behemoth of the bookcase world. Designed by only the fourth employee for Ikea, 41 million have been sold since 1979. The factory where the bookcases are made knocks out 15 Billys a minute; 3.1 million a year.

Many households in the UK have one of these no-frills, building-block style bookcases nestled in a corner somewhere, which means there are a lot of books sitting on its simple shelves.

Update 7-22-19: IKEA says on its website that it sells a Billy bookcase every five seconds somewhere in the world. The video below shows you how to use them to build a built-in library wall.

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