Recently, I met someone judging a book by its colour; he was putting together a collection of books based purely on the dominant colour of the books’ spines. No, he wasn’t an artistically inclined book lover; he was an interior decorator. On vigorous cross-questioning, he finally let the proverbial cat out of the bag.
Books, parchments, maps and tomes have been integral to giving the interiors of homes and offices an elevated status, an air of gravitas, if you will. But, sometime back the space-challenged city apartments began to shy away from books — bookshelves displayed more household bric-a-brac than the books they were meant for.
Those days, according to my decorator friend, are now behind us and book display is once again popular, but with a small difference. The impressive rows of burgundy coloured leather-bound classics lined up neatly on bookshelves in upmarket homes may actually be decorative rexine-clad cardboard props. And why not he argued, nothing adds a touch of class more than a great collection of book titles even if they are just a pile of pretend prototypes.
Throwing light on the reason behind his particular book quest, he confessed that apparently, books that add a ‘pop’ of colour to the interiors are a rage among the new house-proud hipster generation. The clients who order these, like to have the visible portions of the books, the spines, match with the colour palate of the particular room they’re placed in. It doesn’t matter if the book is fiction, a self-help book or a dry tome on taxes, as long as its spine compliments the colour of the room, it’s good for the shelf.
In fact, now books with colourful and arresting visuals on the cover have an even better chance of being bought. Given that few are likely to pick out a book for a read, the millennials have found the perfect use for them — as aesthetic arty props on walls. A few even have them in gilded photo-frames.
I recovered from my sense of hopelessness to take heart in the fact that somewhere a writer is still being able to sell his books and earn a bit from the effort that he puts in filling the pages. Never mind that he is blissfully aware that the choice of his book by the buyer is entirely dependent on the mood of the cover designer on a particular day.