Politico Magazine has a piece Saturday about Books by the Foot, a service run by the Maryland-based bookseller Wonder Book. It does just what you think it does; it helps pick out books in bulk to fill out a bookshelf to make the person whose home or office it is appear more well-read. The story says that the service has been around for a while, but it’s only since the coronavirus pandemic that the service has been called in to dress up Zoom backgrounds and the offices of cable TV panelists participating virtually.

Ashley Fetters writes:

The Wonder Book staff doesn’t pry too much into which objective a particular client is after. If an order were to come in for, say, 12 feet of books about politics, specifically with a progressive or liberal tilt—as one did in August—Wonder Book’s manager, Jessica Bowman, would simply send one of her more politics-savvy staffers to the enormous box labeled “Politically Incorrect” (the name of Books by the Foot’s politics package) to select about 120 books by authors like Hillary Clinton, Bill Maher, Al Franken and Bob Woodward. The books would then be “staged,” or arranged with the same care a florist might extend to a bouquet of flowers, on a library cart; double-checked by a second staffer; and then shipped off to the residence or commercial space where they would eventually be shelved and displayed (or shelved and taken down to read).

“Books by the Foot’s books-as-decor designs have become a fixture in the world of American politics, filling local appetite for books as status symbols, objects with the power to silently confer taste, intellect, sophistication or ideology upon the places they’re displayed or the people who own them.”

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