The Book Decor Trend That Readers Can't Stand

Are you or a loved one struggling to curate the perfect bookshelf display? No longer a home just for books, shelves can feature both books and various objets d'art. But when it comes to showing off a book collection, readers and book enthusiasts tend to feel a bit, well, passionate. Many believe both the titles you own and how you show them off can tell others a lot about you and therefore need to be the main focus of any shelf. Books themselves are small works of art, constructed carefully and following a centuries-old tradition, whether it's a leather-bound vintage edition or sublimely illustrated fantasy novel. So it's no surprise that the bookish population absolutely cannot stand the bookshelf trend that involves placing book spines inward (via 

The result of this display style is a collection of mostly beige, off-white, and cream paper pages lined with thin slivers of color from the covers. This subdued, monochromatic look is a favorite for ultra-minimalist aesthetic influencers and decorators but rubs many readers the wrong way. After all, how can anyone pick out a book when you can't even see the title? 

What irks bibliophiles about the trend

First, let's get the obvious bit out of the way. When the book spines are facing inwards, you cannot read the title of the book at a glance. You'd have to pull a book out to see what it is, which could be nightmarish if you're in pursuit of one specific title. 

While turning the spines inward is obviously not a functional way to organize your books, folks seemingly hate the trend for more than just practical reasons. Designer Natasha Meininger shared a post on her Instagram featuring her pages-out bookshelf display, and commenters made clear that they disliked the choice in deeply personal ways. "How to tell when someone doesn't read, they just want to look like they do..." commented one user. 

BuzzFeed even released a poll asking how people felt about the trend — 87% percent voted that it is "an abomination." Countless comments on the post shared the sentiment that this was poser-ish, and that books should only be for reading. "Just don't buy books if this is what you're going to do. Start a pottery collection or something," said one Buzzfeed reader. 

Why the trend works

Jasmine Roth says that the spines-in trend first blossomed from HGTV for staging purposes — hiding the titles helped them to avoid copyright infringement — but the trend took off in everyday households. While the assumption from book lovers is that your bookshelf should be for the purpose of storing titles you've read or want to read, that just isn't the case for everyone. Many readers now prefer e-readers like Kindle or Nook but still like the smell and appearance of print books as décor. Additionally, many used bookstores and thrift shops have huge inventories of heavily discounted books, although they won't necessarily be from the Best Sellers list. These books can still be used as an affordable décor item in a tasteful bookshelf display, even with the spines hidden.

So as long as you don't need to use your bookshelf as an archive to easily retrieve books from, then the spine-facing bookshelf trend may be the right choice for you. One of the deep pleasures of decorating your own home is that your decisions only need to make sense and bring joy to you. And as the saying goes, don't let the haters bring you down.