Ikea Redesigns Classic Bookshelf, Foreshadows the Demise of Books

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

This setup is increasingly rare in living rooms. Many e-book adopters are using bookshelves to store anything but books.

Citing a changing climate in the reading world, the furniture authorities are putting a new spin on the old bookshelf – by redesigning it to store anything but books.

The storage mavens at Ikea have noticed a shift in what consumers are storing on their bookshelves. After all, a Kindle can hold thousands more books than a wooden tower in the living room. According to the Economist, next month Ikea will release a new version of its classic Billy bookshelf, one that’s focused less on storing books than on storing, well, anything and everything else. The company says it’s finding that customers use their shelves increasingly for “ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome” and less for reading material.

The demise of paperbacks is increasingly imminent. Borders, once a book giant, has closed up shop. Barnes & Noble is staving off the same fate by embracing e-books. It’s clear the book world is well into its digital transition. While Ikea won’t face financial trouble simply because people aren’t buying bookshelves to store books, they’re more than wise to keep up with buyers’ trends.

(READ: 5 Reasons Borders Went Out of Business)

They’ve realized we don’t need fixed shelves 12 inches high and 9 inches deep. They’ve realized we’re more comforted by the endless capacity of a millimeters-thin box of transistors. And most importantly, they want us to keep buying their furniture. So by changing the depth and height and adding decorative glass doors to their bookshelves, they’ll ensure that the world will still have a use for their some-assembly-required furniture. Go ahead, store your souvenirs on our bookshelf, they’re saying.

And it’s clear IKEA calls the proverbial furniture shots: after all, what 20-something doesn’t have a living room set from the Swedes? Those raised in the digital generation have been quick to adopt e-books, a trend that will most certainly continue. It’s quite telling that related industries are adapting to this change.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

READ: How IKEA Survived a Bad Economy