People Are Buying Books In Bulk For More Sophisticated Zoom Call Backdrops

Although the COVID-19 pandemic remains just as serious of a concern as it did when it first emerged, it's also a crisis that many of us have developed a kind of routine for dealing with now.

And for those who have been able to work from home for all this time, it's long become a given that our jobs now involve a lot more virtual meetings. But while the early days of syncing up as we've been doing were chaotic enough that we were just happy to get everything working, it's clear that people have taken the time to notice their environments in the months since then.

So although we may not have to worry about wearing pants as often, it seems that many are still looking to maintain a certain professional aesthetic.

In the early days of the rise in Zoom calls, it was pretty common to notice at least one person using a wacky custom background.

Although there was a lot of fun to be had with these, Bookbarn International CEO Nick Bates told the BBC that he's noticed a trend among customers who have since felt the novelty wear off.

For such individuals, the physical background behind them is now taken into consideration during Zoom calls and other virtual meetings.

This isn't exactly a new phenomenon, as British radio and TV presenter Adrian Chiles (not pictured) wrote all about his meticulous plans behind the subtle ways he pulled his books forward so they'd be visible in the background in The Guardian as far back as May of 2020.

But in the months since, it seems that putting a little focus on your books has become an increasingly popular way to dress your set.

So perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising that some of them would turn to a company that does literal set dressing.

As the BBC reported, firms like Bookbarn International get a lot of business from supplying movie and TV productions who buy or rent books from them in bulk to enhance their production designs.

In the case of Bookbarn, if you've seen extensive libraries or studies in Outlander or His Dark Materials, you've likely seen some of their wares.

But as the pandemic rolls on, Bookbarn International is getting an increasing number of orders from people who simply want to spruce up their home offices for Zoom calls.

According to Bates, demand for this particular service has gone from a handful of scattered inquiries to about 10 bulk orders per week.

Some of these just find people ordering one full bookshelf to their backgrounds, while others go all-out with an entire home library.

And since the company has close to a million books on hand at once, it's easy enough for customers to make specific selections based on the books' subject matter, titles, or even the colors and styles of their covers.

But while some of these customers are likely looking to add a little visual credibility to their backgrounds, that isn't the case for all of them.

As one customer who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity said, "Finishing off my home office this way has created a structured, soothing space that has allowed me to work very productively from home."

They also said their new bookshelves have been the subject of some playful banter between their colleagues, which they've also cited as being helpful in a difficult time.

But of course, there are other ways to achieve the same look when you don't have space for books.

As an alternative, some Imgur and Reddit users have shared custom Zoom backgrounds that give the appearance of a robust book collection.

In some cases, they even have a convincing blurring effect that fits the quality of a given individual's webcam.

So whatever the reason you may have to present yourself as an astute scholar, it's worth knowing that you have options.

h/t: BBC