IKEA Redesigns Iconic Bookcase ... Because No One Buys Books Anymore

The demise of books has been foretold by many pundits, but perhaps the writing is now on the wall ... or in this case, the bookshelf. Specifically, the IKEA bookshelf.

John Biggs of TechCrunch wrote:

If you needed any more proof that the age of dead-tree books is over take a look at these alarming style changes at Ikea: the furniture manufacturer’s iconic BILLY bookcase – the bookcase that everyone put together when they got their first apartment and, inevitably, pounded the nails wrong into – is becoming deeper and more of a curio cabinet. Why? Because Ikea is noticing that customers no longer buy them for books.

This isn’t quite the canary in the coal mine – think of it as a slight tickle in the mine foreman’s throat – but all signs are pointing to the end of the physical book. There are plenty of analogs to this situation. When’s the last time you saw a casette tape rack sold outside of Odd Lots? What about the formal “stereo cabinet” with plenty of room for records? What about Virgin Megastores?

As much as it pains me to say this and as horrible as it sounds, the book is leaving us.

Link | More from The Economist


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I know that electronic books are more popular nowadays. But believe it or not, I'm still one those who loves to collect the old fashioned books. Though I admit that electronic book is more convenient and modern, but still I won't stop collecting hardbound and paperbacks :) And also, bookcases can be used in so many ways, you can also put other things aside from books, it's just a matter of creativity.
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This is ridiculous. As long as the power can go out, there will ALWAYS be a need for physical books. i am so sick of these people telling us that things are "dead" or "Dying". One day, the power is going to go out, and the all of these KINDLE units will be exactly that, KINDLE for the fires.
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I have so many books that I have to stack them two deep on my shelves - the ones behind are the ones in poorer condition or which I probably won't read again. No, parting with any of my books will NEVER happen.

On the other hand deep shelves are exactly what I DON'T need for my ever-expanding collection of DVDs (two 6x3-foot racks have already overflowed) so I'm going for a custom build solution, and have discovered that decking planks are exactly the right width for DVDs. They're also 8 feet long so I can use more vertical space.

In fact for paperback books they are also perfect, so I may go to single-depth book shelves soon. My wide shelves will be released for storage of wide books.

I did once work out how much it would cost to cover every wall in one room with Billy shelves and worked out that I could more happily spend the money on more books :)

As a side issue, if you cover your walls with books they make for great insulation!
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There have been four punctuations in book history.

1) Clay tablets - lasted 2500 years
2) Papyrus Rolls - lasted 2500 years
3) Codex (what we consider books) - so far 2000 years
4) Electronic books - 10-15 years

They all have significant overlap with the previous taking many centuries to die out. (tablets to rolls, rolls to codex) Will e-books surplant codex books? If they can be affordable, permanently archived (a big read flag), integrated from previous systems, and there is a societal demand. It could happen. It may. I don't think in any of our lifetimes though.

The Codex has proven to be a sustainable form of storing information and knowledge that doesn't need to be upgraded every decade (vinyl record to 8 track to cassette to cd to mp3) I think it's great that we continue to attempt improvement. That's our thing. We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves though. The Codex may be getting old, but just because people say it's nearing its last breath doesn't make it so.
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I love the extra-wide shelves on my Billy bookcases. I can store my books two-deep! My e-reader is for books I'll probaby read just once and don't want taking up precious space.
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