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A Bookshelf That Gently Goads You Into Reading

A Bookshelf That Gently Goads You Into Reading

We’ve long suspected that people with big libraries and even bigger mouths about their big libraries haven’t actually read their own books. Niko Economidis’s Read-Unread contraption would be a great way to find out.

It’s a bookshelf that organizes books according to whether you’ve cracked them open or not. A leather strap draped across wall-mounted metal pegs balances books at both ends, with one end designated for books you’ve read; the other for those you haven’t. Rigged that way, the whole thing works like a weight scale. Complete a book, and add it to the “read” pile. The more books you power through, the more the scale tips toward the “read” stack, providing an instant visual of your erudition.

“Read-Unread physically weighs the balance of books that have been read, against those yet to be read,” Economidis says. “Rather than being a fixed object, the bookshelf changes with time, recording your acquisition of knowledge.” Or, if the scale tips the other way, it could assume the role of a friendly to-do list, gently goading you into picking up new reading material. (Maybe that’s the kick in the pants we need to finally start Freedom?)

One problem: The books are strapped in tight with a buckle and look like they’d be difficult to remove — which would counteract the added incentive to snap them up in the first place. Economidis tells Co.Design they’re actually pretty easy to pull out; you just loosen the buckle and yank. Still, that’s more effort than plucking something off a regular old bookshelf. And if Read-Unread is going to encourage reading, especially among non-readers who need the encouragement, it has to make the act of grabbing a book as easy as, if not easier than, reaching for the remote.

[Images courtesy of Niko Economidis]SL