A small ad in the New Yorker caught my eye: “Booksbythefoot.com. Dozens of styles for Interior Designers and Book Lovers. Starting at $6.99 per foot.”
So, I went to their web site, and, sure enough, you can fill your empty bookshelves rather cheaply. The $6.99 will get you a foot of average cloth-bound books. Matched sets are $29.99 a foot, but the real top-of-the-line groups are vintage books at $49.99 a foot, although they look pretty much like most of the selection at the annual AAUW used book sale at our mall that go for fifty cents a bag on the last day. Perhaps you only need the vintage ones for the top shelf and can fill the lower shelves with the others. They have no selection of paperbacks. They probably figure you already have enough of those.
I like their implied definition of book lovers as people who just like the look (and smell) of books. The contents are secondary.
I suppose buying books by the foot would appeal to those staging companies who temporarily replace all of your junky furniture when you want to sell your house, but I would be leery of buying unknown titles. You wouldn’t want prospective buyers to see “Bedbugs: True Survivors,” or “Growing Marijuana in Your Basement for Fun and Profit” on your bookshelves.
(Many, but not all, of the books displayed at the Peirce–du Pont House at Longwood Gardens came from such a fictitious source, but someone must have screened them for suitability. I could find no clunkers to cackle over.)
They end their ad with the quote, “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” I would paraphrase that to, “A room full of books unread is like a body without a soul.”
Now that I think about it, the books on my bookshelf are mostly vintage. At $49.99 per foot, they are looking much better.