When I go to the library to find a new novel to read, I expect the books to be alphabetical by author then by title. I don’t like this system only because it breaks up the order of a series: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire comes before Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Twilight comes after New Moon. I understand, though, that it makes it easier for patrons to find books, especially if they don’t know the book they’re seeking is part of a series.
For my personal library, I can organize them how ever I want. I would love to follow the path of alphabetical by author, then title with exception to series (they must remain in chronological or publication order). However, my shelves need heavy books at the bottom to keep them stable.
Lately, I keep seeing rainbow bookshelves on the Internet. I thought it was a cute, once-in-a-while organization technique that BookTubers did. More and more rainbow bookshelves popping up in my news feed. Again.
It’s annoying to me when people organize by color solely for aesthetics—with no intention to ever read the books. An article I read talked about interior designers and hotels purchasing a certain number of books in each color with no regard to which books are chosen. On the hotels’ part, some glue those books to the shelves so no one can take them or read them. What is the point of providing these books if you’re not going to allow anyone to read them?
I would like to try this organization method for fun some day, but I don’t see that being practical for me. Here are the pros and cons of rainbow shelves:
- They’re beautiful.
- They allow creativity.
- They’re talking points.
- It can help with figuring out where to put books that don’t fit a defined topic, such as travel memoirs with recipes (borrowed from Apartment Therapy).
- Mid-series cover changes are less noticeable. Andrea Cremer’s Nightshade trilogy changed cover style with the first book, and the new style stuck for the rest of the trilogy.
- If you move in with your boyfriend or anyone else, all books could be subject to the color-coding law.
- If stability of shelves is a problem (e.g. milk crate shelves), you can creative by stacking the books in a puzzle pattern in each color zone.
- If you have shelves that require stability with heavier books, you can’t follow this scheme with all of your books. That’s assuming you like having your books stand up like library books.
- What do you do with books with multiple colors? What about books that are white, grey, or black?
- How can you find anything? I suck at remembering what some books look like, especially if the spine is a different color.
- What if the spine is a different color from the front cover? Here are a few examples:
- It can break up series or a collection of books by an author. Looking at Kerstin Gier’s Precious Stone trilogy (a.k.a. Ruby Red trilogy), Ruby Red with its red cover has to go with reds, Sapphire Blue with blues, and the Emerald Green with greens.
- If you collect editions and translations of books, they could easily end up in different sections. I have a copy of the German translation of Fifty Shades of Grey and an English translation. The German translation has a hot pink spine while the English translation is black and blue.
What do you think of rainbow shelves? If you have them, do you have any pros or cons that I’m missing? Do you have suggestions to resolve problems like the “different spine, different front” books?