(rant inspired by work during August research trip…though writing this post may, perhaps, not exactly qualify as dissertation progress)
Why do the French (and other Europeans) print their spine titles upside down?
I mean, certain minor differences between customs in the US and the rest of the world make sense to me (on their part): if the ground floor is 0, it makes it easier to know that you walk up one flight to the first floor, 5 flights to the 5th floor and so on.
Always crossing the middle of a “7” seems like a sensible plan for standardizing clear handwriting.
But while turning your head to the left vs. the right to look along a bookshelf maybe isn’t a big deal,* it is patently obvious when you place books flat on a table that their titles are upside down. Do Europeans always lay their books on their stomachs? (The books’ stomachs, that is, not the Europeans’.)
Fig. 1a, 1b
(click to embiggen and see the travesty more clearly)
Fig. 2a, 2b
I’m (sort of) an historian of the book, but I have no idea where this split came from. This doesn’t really shed any light.
(observe a graduate student in her natural habitat, i.e. actually working)
* Except when you have a mix of American- and European-published works jumbled together, which is just an extra dose of irritating.