Quick, before no one knows what a book is...

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    Jan 07, 2008 4:31 AM GMT
    When books were first shelved vertically as we do today, why were they placed with the book spine to the back of the shelf and the fore-edge facing outward?
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    Jan 07, 2008 4:35 AM GMT
    was it to show that it was a REAL book? as in, had pages?
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    Jan 07, 2008 4:37 AM GMT
    no.
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    Jan 07, 2008 6:25 AM GMT
    In the Middle Ages books were often chained to their shelves...maybe that's why. I've never heard that they were shelved with the spine facing inwards, but I've seen manuscripts with chains. Sometimes they're attached to the cover, sometimes to the spine.

    There's a book out called The Book on the Shelf...that might have the answer.

    BTW, Caslon, I saw your post in the 'Readers' thread and based on what you recommended I thought you might like to read Elizabeth Eisenstein's The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe. It's a excellent study of the way printed books change the way we see the world. I couldn't put it down.
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    Jan 07, 2008 3:06 PM GMT
    couldn't put it down cuz it was chained to the wall?
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    Jan 07, 2008 4:03 PM GMT
    MoM: you're right. The chains were attached to the front edge of the cover at the bottom. If the books were put in page-edge first, the chain would get caught under the book and ruin it. So the books were put in spine first. Also, at that time, a book's title was not written on the spine so it didnt matter.

    I thought that would have been harder to solve.

    Yes, I got this info from "The Book on the Book Shelf," by Henry Petroski.

    Thanks for the reference, MoM. I will definitely check it out.