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Credibility Bookcase: The World Is Judging Your Intellect When You’re on Zoom

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In the age of Zoom, our bookcases earn a rare moment in the spotlight. In a video call interview with Stephen Colbert, actress Cate Blanchett attracted global attention not only because of her charm and grace but also because of her full collection of Oxford English dictionaries and other interesting titles.

Some people like having a well-stocked bookcase, coupled with a modern wall rug and other interesting decors, behind them while on a Zoom call to flaunt their credibility and intellect. Others choose to make video calls in their study simply because it’s a quiet, functional space to get work done. No matter the reason, our bookshelves are everybody’s business now.

The World Judges You by Your Bookcase

“What you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you,” says Twitter user Bookcase Credibility. It critiques book-filled video call backdrops of actors, reporters, fashion designers, and other celebrities around the world. This trend of judging famous people by their bookshelves has also made other individuals, especially professionals who are on Zoom calls every day, conscious of their bookcases. But how should you curate your bookshelves? You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.

Boston’s Brattle Book Shop is ready to lend a hand. This nearly 200-year-old bookstore helps professionals dress their bookshelves. The service started after the store managers tweeted about some questionable books they saw on book-filled backdrops of Zoom interviews on news and talk shows. Many shelves exposed partisan titles, outdated textbooks, or controversial paperbacks that might give away too much about a person. Because of those tweets, Brattle got calls from customers requesting to upgrade their bookcases, and their “bookshelf curating” service for individuals was born.

But even if you’re far from Boston to get a service, you can take a few tricks from the Brattle’s playbook. After all, the backdrop service isn’t new for Brattle as even pre-Zoom interviews, it has been helping decorators and set designers to stage open houses, spruce up restaurants, and furnish movie sets.

1. Get historical books or biographies of industry titans.


“No matter what business you’re in, if you have something by Doris Kearns Goodwin or other books on leadership, that is going to be interesting,” said Ken Gloss, Brattle Bookshop’s owner.

2. Add titles that reflect your personality.

Show off your lighter side by adding titles from Douglas Adams or of your varied interests such as music, fashion, classic cars, or sports. These books show that there’s more to you than intellect and credibility.

3. Place questionable titles on top and bottom shelves.

Gloss suggests putting the curated collection on the most visible part of the bookcase. You can simply place self-help books or other titles that may elicit a not-so-good reaction on top and bottom shelves.

4. Consider your book spines.

In a setting with somewhat poor lighting, make sure that the visible books have a spine color that is a perfect contrast to the book title. Also, used books with faded spines may not be a good choice for your credibility bookcase.

Of course, the greatest tip from Brattle—and the rest of the world’s biggest bookworms—is to curate your bookcase with titles that you actually want to read. You’re not on Zoom every minute of every day, anyway.

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