Books For The Rich

No, this isn’t a new political slogan. A common theme of apartment advertisements, especially those in glass box buildings (which are many of the new buildings on the market in D.C.), is a couple, who is usually too young to actually afford that apartment, gazing meaningfully out at the view, sometimes on a balcony, sometimes not. Staring out into space strikes me as really boring after fifteen minutes tops, but each to his or her own.

But in all of these ads, what’s really striking isn’t the view, but what’s missing. Which is why this ad, by way of PoPville, interested me. See if you can find what’s unusual about it! First hint:


More hints–because we like helping!



Yes, this apartment actually comes with places to put books. I never see in any of these ads a serious book collection–which the target audience certainly could afford. There might be some books as decorative objects, but a collection of books, that might have been read? NEVAR.

Kidding aside, this does reflect an admittedly very slight problem in the housing market. No, it’s not the absence of bookshelves. Many of these apartments really aren’t designed for people with stuff, books or otherwise. It’s not clear the architects ever take into account having to store things. These apartments often seem to be ‘idealized apartments’ designed by people who don’t live in apartments. Ceiling to floor windows are nice (I’ve lived in apartments with them), but when there’s no wall space for shelving, that’s a problem (or you just put the shelves in front of the ceiling-to-floor windows, negating the whole point).

Anyway, books are good.

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5 Responses to Books For The Rich

  1. John Magoun says:

    That is an impressive space, but I have to think it is more like a decorator’s modern version of a mansion’s classic ‘library’ than a living room with some “places to put books” as you phrase it. It was certainly custom designed for the condo owner, rather than installed by the architect during the design and construction phase.
    Your general point about modern urban apartment design seems good, although I’m not familiar with that market myself. As a reader myself most of whose books are still in boxes because my new smaller empty-nest house doesn’t have a lot of shelf space, I do sympathize.
    You do realize, I hope, that increasing numbers of younger people simply do not read books anymore, right? And that the developers and architects probably figured that out?

    • Bern says:

      And never mind thousands of vinyl records (and the equipment to play them), a dozen bicycles (and the space to maintain them), a drum set…

  2. David says:

    I see books, and I see a couch to sit on while reading, but I don’t see lamps near the couch or chairs.

  3. John Magoun says:

    Good point, David. For what it’s worth, there is a lamp by the window end of the sofa, and one next to a less-comfy armchair back by the window, in the first photograph.

    I wonder how many architects spec floor sockets for task lighting in areas where they envision an open-seating arrangement like this one? Without those, the cord has to run across the floor to the nearest wall socket. And as you say, without task lighting, under the merciless toplighting of a recessed ceiling fixture or a track light, fewer people will want to curl up with a good book.

  4. Ten Bears says:

    I have a lot of books. Boxes of books, trunkloads. Books stored in family members garages and barns all around the county. Books on bookcases. Books on planks on firewood bookcases. Books on the dining room table, the bedroom floor, above the kitchen sink. I think it’s a photo-op.

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