What is a Good Way to Choose a Coffee Table Book?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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In many homes, there are the books and magazines that people actually read, the books they would like others to believe they read, and then there's the giant of the reading world — the coffee table book. These books are usually quite large and filled primarily with photos, although they usually include some text to go with the images. A good coffee table book is equal parts decoration, affectation, and education. It's one book guests will usually feel comfortable browsing through should the host decide to leave the room for a few minutes, so selecting a good one can be essential for a conscientious host or hostess.

A coffee table book offers a person the chance to subtly define elements of his or her personal tastes and interests. If a person's passion is watching NASCAR races, then he might want to select an oversized book featuring photos of cars and drivers. Someone who enjoys photography has many options, as there are literally hundreds of collections by famous photographers available. Frequent travelers may want to invest in a book featuring a favorite destination. The point is to provide guests with an informal introduction to one or more of of the host's interests. A well-selected coffee table book could become a good conversation starter.


Almost every major bookstore features a section of coffee table book titles. Even if there isn't a specific section, oversized books can often be found in the photography, art, and reference areas. A good one is usually strong visually, with an attention-getting cover and images spreading across two inside pages. When not actually in use, the book can also serve as an accent piece to break up the lines of a coffee table arrangement.

The price of a new coffee table book can be a little prohibitive for those on a budget, but quite often bookstores will offer seasonal discounts. Unlike some other genres, titles are rarely discounted because of poor sales or lack of interest. High-quality photographic collections are always going to have some visual appeal. People who are in a position to buy a new book that suits their personal interests should consider it an investment in housewarming. When someone needs something to place on a new coffee table but money is tight, he should wait until an official book sale and buy whatever he thinks will have the broadest appeal.

One important consideration when selecting a coffee table book is the content. Shoppers should be sure to read through the entire book before placing it out for guests. Some collections of photography or artwork may include sophisticated or adult-oriented pieces that could offend sensitive readers. Most people don't want to be surprised by an eight-year old boy leafing through a collection of artistic nude photos, for example. Some people find it helpful to keep several different titles on hand to avoid sending out the wrong message about their tastes in literature and art.


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Post 1

My favorite coffee table book is Gig Posters Vol 1. It's a big book full of music art. I love music so this book is perfect for me. It's easy to flip through and admire the art work. Some people like to remove the posters and hang them but I like to keep them intact.

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