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Orientation of text on book spines

A friend recently stumped me with the following question:

Why is it that American bookmakers orient the text on book spines
from the head of the volume to its tail, while German and French
titles are turned in the opposite direction?

In other words, if you stand an American book on its tail on a shelf,
you must cock your head to the right in order to read it.  To
read a similarly positioned French or German book, however, you must
drop your head left.

Could this be why so many academics are "stiff-necked"? (ha ha)

Thanks in advance,
Eric D. Friedman

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