Bespoke libraries, joining book love with interior design

Richard Schlesinger peruses the volumes of a custom-designed library.

This story was originally broadcast on May 18, 2014.

If you judge your books' covers to be just a bit blah, then Thatcher Wine can change everything.

He is to a library what a tailor is to a suit. From his workshop in Boulder, Colo., he custom-tailors libraries all over the country.

He has always loved books, and not just for the words.

"When you look at a book -- I hate to say this -- how do you judge it?" asked Schlesinger.

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Juniper Books
"I probably look at books pretty differently from other people," said Wine. "I look at the whole object, really -- the cover design, the book jacket design, the proportions of the book. I also think in terms of sets and collections and libraries."

If a book looks good off the shelf, he'll use it as-is. He'll collect books to fit his clients' interests, like a curator, and place each book just so.

But so many books don't fit as-is. They need alterations to make it into one of his "bespoke libraries."

So he'll design his own cover, and with a fold here and a crease there, and with the proper arrangement, your library can become a Thatcher Wine Original.

But if you want your books bespoke, you'd better be rich. A custom library can cost as much as $750 a foot.

At the Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth, Wine's library features around 900 books replicating the view out the window. It's a library where reading is discouraged!

"Well, it'd be a problem if somebody checked out, like, the third hole," said Schlesinger.

"Exactly, yeah. So we actually want to make the books as boring as possible so that nobody had an incentive to take one off the shelf," said Wine.

"You're begging the question: What are some of the books that are on that shelf?"

"Those are actually all law books," he replied.

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CBS News

But Thatcher Wine does want most of the books -- even the bespoke -- to be read. The point is to enjoy looking at them as much as you enjoy reading them.

Interior designer Jenny Fishbach installed a Thatcher Wine work in a Manhattan townhouse. She said they were not merely props, but were both cool and practical: "A two-for-one."

Wine said, "Books have been around for 500 years, and the concept of having libraries that look good and are decorative has certainly been done before. But I think there are some improvements that can be made."

Because some books (like some people) improve with age, but others need a little touch-up . . . or sometimes a major overhaul.

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