Thursday, April 13, 2006

Book Learning

With all the end-of-the-world statistics these days regarding the state of America's rampant illiteracy, you'd think we would all put our books on display in an effort to show that we weren't part of some dreadful statistic.

And then I saw Pottery Barn.

If you notice, there are books displayed behind the unoffensive and neutral sofa, yes. But the books are displayed with the bindings facing IN, which would make finding the book you'd need positively impossible to find. Whatever this fictional Pottery Barn family is doing, it's certainly not tucking in to Nancy Drew novels.

Books can certainly make a nice display, as long as you're not trying to pass them off as something other than what they are: that is, books. And not a neutral backdrop for your sofas. Besides, people will end up hypothesizing that you're really just hiding a massive collection of tawdry titles if you turn the bindings in.

But what if you have nothing but tawdry paperbacks? Well, Philadelphia has more used-book stores than it knows what to do with: Book Trader on N. 2nd is a particularly good choice. Bookhaven (2202 Fairmount Ave) is one of those fabulous old-style bookstores that are practically bursting at the seams with stuff. The AIA bookstore (17th and Samson) is self-explanatory: lots of glossy architecture tomes.

Bookshelves are fine to use, but tread carefully when it comes to the non-traditional. The Chicago Shelves from DWR are modern, but are unobtrusive. Perfect for those with a small collection, or would like to avoid the massive-wall-of-books look. However, the Sapian shelves are a bit reminiscent of sad starting-out days (Ramen noodles anyone?).