The Wing, a chain of women-only co-working spaces and social clubs, organizes books by spine color, a very Instagram-friendly design. Picture: The Wing; photographer Tory Williams

Washington - It used to be that your books said something about you.

Today, that may not always be the case. Books are evolving as a decorating statement for their looks, not for their content.

Instagram and Pinterest continue to inspire DIYers with fresh ideas on decorating with books. We present a few here.

Book arch

If you do a search for #BookArch on Instagram, you'll see a charming variety of arcs in homes, book shops and libraries. They look good framing fireplaces or rounded doorways or creating interest along a wall.

Julie James, a floral artist and wedding designer in the Pittsburgh area, says book arches are in demand for weddings and are especially popular with English majors and teachers. For a photo shoot, James bought a used book arch made of two lengthy pieces of bendable steel (rebar). A variety of hardbacks and paperbacks had two holes drilled in them and were threaded onto the arches, which were then secured into heavy bases.

James says books turn up in many roles at nuptials. "I've hung book pages from trees and laid out book pages under flowers and moss on tables," she says. A popular centerpiece: little stacks of vintage books with a candle or small vase of flowers on top.

Book headboard

A popular online tutorial these days is how to make a stylish headboard out of books. In 2012, Kassandra Utzinger, a Vancouver graphic designer and blogger, wrote a post on her website Design Every Day (designeveryday.ca) about her bed. 

Kassandra Utzinger, a Vancouver graphic designer, has pioneered the trend of book headboards. Picture: Kassandra Utzinger

She had arrived in Canada from Australia and needed a fast, affordable design idea for her new apartment. "I was looking for some way to decorate in a personalized way," Utzinger says. "I was inspired by seeing how Banana Republic was using books to display jewelry in their stores back then."

Colour-coded books

Everything at the Wing, a chain of women-only co-working spaces and social clubs, is carefully coordinated: even the bookshelves.

According to Chiara de Rege, an interior designer with offices in New York and Los Angeles who decorates the clubs, books by female authors were carefully curated for club members to check out. One of the co-founders of the club, Audrey Gelman, was interested in creating a rainbow of color on the shelves.

"Audrey had been talking about a spectrum of color," deRege says. "She is a total book nerd, and it was important to her that there be a library with relevant books that people would read, but that it also have a cool rainbow vibe." They organized books on shelves in the Wing-branded Pantone colors, which are pale pink, mint, navy, burnt orange, caramel and gray.

Tinted spines

There's another way to organize books by color: by the hue of their tinted page tops. The most popular page-top colours are blue and green, says Nancy Martin, owner of Decades of Vintage, which sells old books curated by color, as well as rare antique books. 

Publisher's stain, the technical term for tinted page tops, was applied to the page edges of certain vintage books to shield pages from later damage because of dust and dirt. "It was a cheap way to make things look fancier," Martin says, "and gave a series of books a competitive edge."

Coffee-table books

The oversize, photography-heavy books stacked on many a coffee table have their own category in the publishing and decorating business: "coffee-table books."

These books often say something about the residents of a home. These books may be used to make a political statement or give clues to where the owners might have travelled.