Rare Book Monthly

Articles - May - 2018 Issue

Fore-Edge Play - Is Turning Your Books Around Backwards Art?

6faee7f2-5e7d-4a9f-8a52-cf9d9dbd7429

A better way to display your books?

Backward facing books? Apparently, it has become the rage, or outrage. It all depends upon your point of view. The trend, at least among the trendy, is to place your books backwards on a bookshelf. Fore edges are finally getting their due. The spine goes to the back, where it cannot be seen, while the fore edge is exposed.

 

Why? Evidently, it has something to do with art. Exactly what is hard for some of us to understand. However, "why" is a question that should never be asked when it comes to art. It implies there is a rational answer. Art is not accountable to reason. This is fortunate, because if reason were applied here, it would clearly say this is a dumb idea. Seriously, how are you supposed to find a book this way?

 

The explanation for the beauty in viewing books backwards is that it provides a more consistent, neutral appearance. The spines can be all sorts of different, clashing colors, and have such unattractive features as words on them. Unless the fore edge has been colored, or worse yet, features a fore-edge painting, putting books on a shelf backwards will present a consistent, neutral, off-white look. It will match your neutral, off-white walls that real estate agents say buyers desire in a house. Of course, this begs the question why have these books in the first place? Why not just have more neutral wall instead of a neutral bookshelf? Perhaps the answer is this enables you to store old books you will never read again without taking up closet space. Or maybe this is another reminder that we shouldn't be asking "why" questions when it comes to art.

 

This trend is somewhat reminiscent of another trend that appears still to be going strong - buying books by the foot. This is where you buy a bunch of old books that no one wants to read to fill your bookshelf. Usually, they will be based on a theme. Often, that theme will be color. You buy only red books or blue books, which is a bit more daring than the typical colorless fore edge. Alternatively, you might buy them based on subject matter. You can fill your bookshelf with physics books, which implies you are erudite, someone with a passion for the same type of learning as Einstein. Others will buy books based on size, providing a uniformity of appearance similar to a row of off-white edges.

 

While artistic expression is a matter of taste, and there is no right or wrong when it comes to taste, it does say something about the person. For example, what if you start a new trend with paintings, where you turn the paintings on your walls around? Perhaps that will show you are on the cutting edge of artistic appreciation, but I'm more likely to interpret that as an expression of what you think of your paintings. They suck. Or, how about if you turn those family photographs we all have on our walls around? Does that say something about your artistic taste, or about what you think of your family? Try it and see what your spouse or children say. So, doesn't turning your books around say something similar about your feelings toward your books? Just wondering.


Posted On: 2018-05-01 22:00
User Name: twfmd

If this was anywhere near April 1st I would think this was a joke. If it is not a joke, it is completely absurd!


Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions