Friday, 6 April 2018

Why I Organise My Bookshelves by Publisher (and why you should give it a go too)

There are many ways to organise your bookshelves: A-Z by author, colour-coded for those #shelfiesunday ‘grams, separated by genre or just plonked on the shelves. At some point in my life, my shelves have been organised in all of these ways, but I’ve never been happy with them. Until now.

After watching a video on Leena Norms’ YouTube channel, I decided to take the rogue option of organising my bookshelves by publisher, and I haven’t looked back since. For me, it is the best way to sort my books and I’m here to tell you why you should give it go a too.
It helps you align your tastes with certain publishers

As an aspiring member of the publishing industry, it is really helpful to have a knowledge of different publishing imprints and what kind of stuff they publish. As a reader, it is very helpful to know who is publishing the kind of books I like to read. Looking at my shelves in my publisher-oriented organisational method, I can tell you that I like the crime fiction that comes out of Avon (HarperCollins) and when I look for my recent favourite books, I see Faber & Faber is the home of Lullaby and Conversations with Friends.

Not only is this method incredibly helpful if you’re applying for publishing jobs at specific publishers and you want to find something you have in common with them, but it can also give you guidance when finding your next enjoyable read. I have a number of Picador titles unread on my shelves, but with the recent successes of The Miniaturist and The Muse, I’m a bit more likely to head towards the other titles next to them.

It makes you realise who you’re giving money to

The Big Publishers in the UK are Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Pan Macmillan, but each of these is home to a host of imprints with individual identities and unique lists. By getting to grips with the imprints of each big publisher and organising my shelf in such a way I can see who I’m buying the majority of books from, I have come to realise how much of an imbalance there is between the money I’m giving to conglomerates compared to the money I’m supporting smaller/indie presses with.

Something ridiculous like 1 in 4 books bought in the UK is published by Penguin Random House, which is HUGE, and it definitely plays out on my shelves because I had to dedicate an entire bookcase to books published by PRH imprints. Now, the majority of these are classics in beautiful editions like the Penguin English Library collection of the new Penguin Modern, but even so, the amount of money I’ve spent on (sometimes mediocre) PRH titles is astonishing. By rearranging my shelves and seeing where my spending lies, I’ve been inspired to hunt for books by smaller publishers and put my money where my mouth is when it comes to diversity.

It’s fun to re-organise your bookshelves!

I don’t know about you when but when I get used to my bookshelf layout, I forget to actually look at what’s on my shelves. When you have to take all of them down and put them up in a new order, you often re-discover books that you had forgotten about. Additionally, giving them a new place on the bookshelf might inspire you to read them sooner. In the end, re-organising bookshelves is just a fun activity for a rainy day and you can learn a lot of things about yourself and your reading habits from doing so.

So as part of your spring cleaning, I highly suggest you have a go at rearranging your bookshelves by publisher, even if you don't keep them that way. You can learn a lot about the publishing industry, your reading tastes, and your spending habits just by looking at the books you already own with a closer eye.

How do you arrange your bookshelves? Let me know if you decide to give this method a go!
Happy reading,