Difference in orientation of titles on backs of English vs French books

Hello Teeming Millions,

I speak both English and French, and as such, have books in both languages on my book shelves. Now, when my husband and I were looking at those books the other day, something struck us as odd: The titles on the back (or edge) of the English books read downwards (the “head” of the letters pointing to the right so that one has to cock one’s head to the right to read them), and the titles on the French books read upwards (head of letters pointing to the left). Now, we also have Dutch books, and their backs are similar to those of the English books. Seems like only the French books are different. Does anyone have an idea why it is so? Is it for any practical reasons? (This seems doubtful, though…). Thanks a bunch in advance! :confused:

I’ve no idea at all why this is the case, but I think the word you’re looking for is the spine of the book.


OOOPS, Yes, Thanks Andy, the word I was looking for was NOT “back”, but “SPINE”. So, my question concerns the SPINE of the books! :smack: :smiley:

My English books all go down. My Spanish books are about 50% up, 40% down.

The other 10% go across?

Don’t know the answer, but I can agree that it’s irritating trying to find a book in a library that’s got mixed English and French books. Normally, you just walk along with your head cocked one way to read the titles, but in a mixed library, you’re always wagging your head back and forth, like a demented bobble doll.

Some english books go the other way; I think mainly old ones. Some think books go across, which is annoying.

Why don’t you put french books in upside-down.

(or english books)

(but not both)

FWIW, French (and Russian) helicopter rotors turn the opposite direction too.

I just stack them so the titles on the spine all face the same way.

In German books are maybe 30% top-to-bottom and 70% bottom-to-top.

I hate looking for books in Germany because you constantly have to turn your head back and forth. I dont care which way you do it, but for gosh sakes – make up your mind!!!


WHAT? Huh? :confused: Now, this is strange. Why on earth would they rotate the other way? There MUST be a practical reason, right? Or an historical one. I can understand why the British ride on the left-hand side of the road (used to be a very explainable and practical reason behind it), but chopper rotors and book-spines? hmmm…

Book spine printing direction

annaone: No idea. There’s at least one American homebuilt helicopter whose rotor blades turn clockwise (as the pilot sees them from the cockpit). I’d assume that being a homebuilt cost or weight was a factor. But I don’t know why French heli rotors turn clockwise.

Johnny L.A.,

I wonder if ALL French choppers have rotors spinning “the other way”. I’ll check it out.

CD spines too. Germany prints them all bottom to top. I put them all together to stop my head from spinning.

Let’s add Swedish to the list of top-to-bottom spine printing.

In my bookshelf I have English, Swedish, French, German and some Dutch books.
All of the English, Swedish and Dutch books have the spinal text written top-to-bottom, whereas the French are bottom-to-top and the German are mixed.

Band Name!