Online Store Sells Books by the Foot: Cool or Cruel?

Is a renewed appreciation for books as art actually contributing to the downfall of the appreciation of reading in our society?

You’ve seen all the decorating ideas on Pinterest that involve books. Countless volumes are being used to make “floating” bookshelves or being gutted to store electronics or other items. From book headboards (tutorial here) to color-coordinated bookshelves to carved-out book art, the world has gone book crazy. Not necessarily reading crazy, just book crazy.

What do we, the lovers of books, do with this? Do we embrace it as literature-centered art? Do we condemn it as thoughtless destruction of some of our culture’s most priceless treasures for the sake of interior decorating?

Is including or excluding books from a collection based on their appearances all right? Is it sophisticated or superficial to organize your books by color? Is it okay to dismember a book for the sake of making something you see beauty in? Is it a little more okay if the art is only made with books you didn’t enjoy reading? Perhaps you’re actually doing those old books a favor, giving them a little life after they’ve been left unread for so long. Or is making a statement for your home with books you have no connection to a sort of crime, a charade, a mockery of literature?

Well, regardless of whether book lovers condone it, someone has found a way to capitalize on this trend. An online store called Books by the Foot has tapped into this niche market of book buyers who want books for their outsides instead of their insides.

Books by the Foot is now selling books (you guessed it) by the number of feet its customers would like. Seriously. You can order one foot of books or 10 feet of books or 50 feet of books. You don’t choose what titles you get. Instead, you pick bunches of books by some easily visible trait they share, such as genre, size, or color.

So perhaps you want an entire bookshelf full of literature that’s all the same height because your terrible OCD symptoms are acting up again. Or maybe you want the colors of your volumes to look stunning together, so you order “golden tones,” “city lights,” or “autumn leaves.” Or you want to come off as educated and well-read, so you only buy history books and biographies. Or you’ve got an art project in mind that will only work with green books. Books by the foot has you covered. Never mind that you’ll probably never read anything they send you.

Or will you? Perhaps some people actually buy a few feet of mystery novels or young adult fictions in the hopes of discovering something enjoyable to read. Nonetheless, we worry that the mere availability of products sorted by color or size reflects the fact that most customers are more interested in the outside than the inside.

So you’re literally judging books by their covers.

What do you think? Is it possible for this new kind of book-crazy population to be a good thing? Will the love of book exteriors translate to a love of book interiors? Or will the use of books as visual art cause them to lose their value as literature? Is a renewed appreciation for books actually contributing to the downfall of the appreciation of reading in our society?

The answers to these questions remain to be seen. For now, we recommend carefully analyzing your motives before you go making rash design decisions–especially if they involve irreversible damage.

Love the decorating and DIY stuff but hate to ruin your favorite books in the name of art? Check out these 10 cool DIY bookend ideas to dress up your shelf space!