Before printers, books were written by hand and kept in small containers which were usually carried around by their wealthy owners. As these book volumes accumulated in religious houses or in the home of the wealthy, they were kept in cupboards. Later the doors were removed, and the evolution of the bookcase proceeded. However the ‘books’ were not arranged as we do today, they were placed in piles on their sides or if upright, were arranged with their backs to the wall and their edges placed out. The band of leather which closed the book was often where the title was scripted, instead of the spine.
When printing had reduced the cost of books, thus allowing more people access to owning books, it became the practice to write the title on the spine and place the book with the spine facing out. Additionally, early bookcases were usually of oak, with is still believed by some, to be the most appropriate wood for an elegant library.
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