Rotational Spines

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Have a look at your book shelf. Go on, look closely.

What do you see? Books. Good. Closer…No?

All right. Let me tell you. You see books with their titles printed on the spine. Some have a thick spine and the words run left to right (or right to left in some countries).

Most books you’ll find have the title running top to bottom. You need to tilt your head to the right in order to read the title. If you read English or American books, that is. If you read German books, you’d have to tilt your head to the left and read the print on the spine bottom-up. If you read both English and German books, your head violently shakes from right to left and back to the right again as you browse your book shelves.

How funny that there is this country or language-specific rule. I wonder if other countries also have a related preference and what that might be. Who’s the odd one out – Anglo-Saxons or Germans?

4 thoughts on “Rotational Spines

  1. I think the automatic response depends on what you’re used to.

    I’m still hopeful to get some input from other countries like France or Italy maybe…?

  2. In malayalam(my language), it’s the same as English. It’s top to bottom. I would have thought that the bottom-up rule applies to those who write from write to left(like Arabic or Urdu), so why is German bottom up? I would love to know why that rule was taken up with German books.

    A question, if you were to hold a book in hand and you want to read its spine, how would you turn the book to read it first? What’s the automatic response? I automatically turn it to my right to read it, if it was the German way of “bottom-up title”, then I could read the spine straight away but with the English/malayalam way, I always have to go about changing the angle.So, I wonder if it has anything to do with whether one is left or right handed.

  3. Why should the German way be the strange way? I’m perfectly used to it.

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