On Book Spine Orientation
Have you noticed? Sometimes when you buy a new book, the book title orientation on the spine is top-to-bottom. But then you also have lots of books, where title orientation is bottom-to-top. Now try to shelve those books in your library – it’s just confusing. To get it right you need to turn some books upside down, which means changing their front cover and back cover position.
I have always wondered, why are some book titles lettered from top to the bottom and some other way round. Now, this Wikipedia page on Bookbinding makes it clear:
In the United States, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, titles are usually written top-to-bottom, and this practice is reflected in an industry standard; when the book is placed on a table with the front cover upwards, the title is correctly oriented left-to-right on the spine. In most of continental Europe, the general convention is to print titles bottom-to-top on the spine.
Basically, Wikipedia says that mixed shelving of books printed in the US and United Kingdom with the books printed in Slovakia, Germany or Czech Republic is just plain impossible – you can’t get book spine titles in the same position. After checking my library, it is clear that even continental publishers don’t get it right – some use the continental (bottom-to-top) approach, some use English one (top-to-bottom), so you can’t even get Czech and Slovak books to shelve properly. Those are the troubles of man buying books both from Amazon and from the local Slovak bookshops. I will have to go with a spine shelving technique and compromise by placing some books sideways (and possibly use the foredge shelving technique). Although, I would have expected to have an international standard on spine title orientation by now.
What are your ways to cope with the mixed title orientation on the book spines?