Among the minor cultural differences that separate countries is the question of the orientation of the text on the spine of books that identify their title and author when conveniently packed on book shelves: going up
proudly as French and German books, or going down
as English or American or Italian books? When books are ordered by topic or author, this leads to rather uncomfortable switches of orientation of the head as one scans bookshelves for the right oeuvre to read during a lazy afternoon.
Actually, these are more or less contemporary examples, and it seems that these conventions change with time. For instance, I have an old English paperback from 1951 where the title goes up instead of down:
Another from 1962 goes down. When did the change happen? And why? And how do other languages stack up? Is it rather a country-based preference? Are the titles of Italian-language books printed in Switzerland going up (like the French and German ones do), or down? And does this affect the direction in which shivers run along your spine when reading a scary story of murdered baronets in abandoned ruins?
(There’s of course the solution, admittedly snobbish, of writing the title and author’s name horizontally
as the Pléiade does, for instance).