A Crime against Books? Books as Decoration in Pubs

Visiting my friends house the other day I noticed something that at first I thought was rather an original use of books and then immediately after got a bit enraged.

The pub near to her house The Swan and Edgar has by means of decoration a shelf of books displayed above the window as you can see in the picture below:

Swan and Edgar

On doing a bit of google searching I also found out that they have decorated the interior with books also, with a bar built on second hand books.


So what got me totally enraged was the thought of all those lovely classic books open to the British rain and general grotty weather. And inside, people spilling their pints all down them.

Yes yes, so this is recycling of a sort, but it seems a bit crass to use books in such a superficial way when what’s supposed to be important about them is their content! Perhaps I’m a bit of a hypocrite, after all I do love a good book cover and according to some blurb on a website the pub is actually literary themed with planned book signings and quizzes to be held there. I should probably go and actually have a pint there before being totally ‘anti’.

But to continue on the theme I have noticed alot of pubs using books as decoration, either on shelves or stacked up on the side. This can be kind of nice and add a friendly feel, but sometimes it just seems an empty gesture.

What do people think – am I being too harsh? Is it simply an original idea / recycling of unused books? Or is it a crime against humanity…er…I mean books!?

12 responses to “A Crime against Books? Books as Decoration in Pubs

  1. It is sad, but these sort of books have no commercial value. They are bought by the metre for decorative purposes and without this they would be sent to be pulped. If the books look valuable/interesting it may be that they have some pages missing/scribbling on. Damaged books are often used for this purpose.

    Any book stuck on a pub is unlikely to be rare – I’m sure you’ll be very easily able to find copies of it. I think you should go for a drink in the pub and see if they do anything interesting!

    • I had an inkling that it would be the case but it still makes me sad to see them slowly decaying in the rain. Gut reaction I guess! I suppose the added factor for me is the ‘decorative’ use of them when fundamentally they are more than that. When they’re glued in to something they exist in a situation where they can’t serve their practical function. Like girls draped over cars at a motor show perhaps, visually appealling but superfluous. Not sure that analogy fits, but maybe you get what I mean!

  2. Oh that is sad. Regardless of how much the books are worth they should be recycled or given to loving homes regardless I am unimpressed with this and can empathise with your rage. Books should be treated with respect no matter there worth, the older and tattier the better!

  3. Simon – Would you like a box of old tatty books? I’m not joking – I have loads! If you know some loving homes them I would glady pass them on, but even the charity shops refuse to take them. I’ve put them on freecycle – no takers. The sad fact is that there are some unloved books in the world.

    • Oh course you can Jackie, though am not at the September book group. If you would like to bring them in October, I may see if Polly wants to share them and we can save the world one tatty book at a time ha! Some of the other book group members may find treasures in them.

  4. It certainly is a creative way of using old books but I agree with you. Some poor author has spilled their soul into those books and now they’re quashed under vomit, beer and stray food chunks or else they’re soaking up the rain and muck. Oh…but I do love books as decorations too.

    • That’s the thing! I know that it probably makes sense to use them because they’ll get chucked, and I do think that books are decorative and beautiful but something in my heart just says noooo! I’m torn 🙂

  5. Look at it this way, its the closest some people will ever get to a book, you never know they may just pick one up, or it maybe a good job the books are stuck down with hude blobs of glue to stop them being used as missiles!!

  6. Pingback: Booking Through Thursday – Weeding « Novel Insights

  7. It was inevitable that fixed exchange rates, even with wider agreed zones of fluctuation, but lacking a world medium of exchange, were doomed to rapid defeat. ,

  8. Oh I’m with you, Polly! (Just seen your link on Kim’s blog)

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