why coffee table books aren’t sold academic market

Why Coffee Table Books Aren’t Sold in the Academic Market

We’re all familiar with the glossy-covered, often oversized books commonly referred to as ‘coffee table books’ – attractive, attractive publications meant to be casually glanced through rather than read from cover-to-cover. But why don’t we see these kind of books on the shelves of school and university libraries?

Lack Of Information

Coffee table books can be an enjoyable experience, but they do not generally provide comprehensive or in-depth information. Academic institutions are looking for books which provide more information than what can be found in a coffee table book.

Focus On A Single Theme

Many coffee table books are focused on one theme; such as fashion, travel or art. Whilst this may be suitable for consumers, it may lack the coverage of multiple topics and in-depth information required by an academic setting.

No Footnotes Or Bibliography

Coffee table books generally do not include dictionary-style footnotes or references, which is essential for creating academic papers and learning about a topic. Similarly, there isn’t usually a bibliography or index in the back pages.


Coffee table books offer subjective insights, often flitting between topics and failing to provide an in-depth analysis of any of them. Academics require an objective narrative, alongside the in-depth analysis of facts and figures.

High Price

Finally, coffee table books tend to be more expensive than standard books, due to the extra costs associated with their design and printing. Academic institutions may not be able to justify this level of expense when comparing academic and coffee table books.

To conclude, coffee table books are unlikely to be found on the shelves of academic libraries as they lack the in-depth information, objectivity and footnotes that make up a good academic book. Despite this, coffee table books offer an enjoyable, attractive experience which still provides an insight into a certain topic, making them a popular choice at home.

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