Hari Patience-Davies highlights three of the biggest bookshelf blunders going.

I recently reorganised my study to add a credibility bookcase into my background for Zoom and other virtual meetings and calls. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while – but as ever life got in the way, and I instead spent six months telling other people to rearrange their backgrounds for maximum Zoom impact while looking like I was broadcasting from inside of the choral section of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody video.

Screenshot showing presenter in black shirt (left) and blue shirt (right)

I know it’s become a bit of cliche, but it’s true that bookcases make great backgrounds. They lend an air of knowledge and authority – as well as a touch of authenticity, I am, after all, giving people a glimpse of who I am through their analysis of which books I have on display. You can even get someone to sell you a suitable collection of hardbacks purely for background purposes.

But if you don’t have the cash to outsource your literature taste, there’s a few things to remember before setting your laptop up in front of your home library…

1. Make sure there’s nothing embarrassing on the shelves

You may imagine that the worst thing to be caught with is bit of pulp fiction or light erotica on display. If so then feel sorry for this poor woman on BBC Wales Today who was broadcasting on camera with a large dildo behind her.

Image from https://www.comicsands.com/bbc-interview-viral-sex-toy-2650160504.html

2. Make sure that your shelves are actually shelves and not a pop-up banner

Bookshelf Credibility, a Twitter account which analyses the backgrounds of people on news shows and other broadcasts pointed out the creases in the suspiciously neutral book display behind this talking head.

3. Curate your bookshelf yourself – just in case

In August 2020 Boris Johnson gave a televised speech from a school library that clearly no one on his staff had taken a close enough look at…

This is the bookshelf version of the advice to always make sure any comedy cat filters are turned off before starting your Zoom call…

Oh and please don’t do that decorating thing where people turn the books around so only the pages show instead of the spines – it may look nice on instagram but it will only make your audience think you definitely never read any of your books because how could you ever find them?

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