are books as a meaningful element of our homes a thing of the past?

Last week  The Economist  broke the story that IKEA will be revamping its classic  Billy Bookshelf  by making the shelves deeper. Perfect, the writer muses, for "ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome—anything, that is, except books that are actually read."  The article goes on to explain that e-books have overtaken hardcover sales and that the Swedish furniture company is adapting to a future with fewer physical books in our homes. 

Say it isn't so!

OK, I can (maybe) understand why people are indeed opting for the convenience of an e-book while standing on a commuter train or crammed into a tiny airplane seat but I cannot and will not accept that books will cease to be a meaningful design element in our homes.

Yes, I may be more of a book nook enthusiast than some, but you have to admit that books, whether haphazardly stacked on the bedside table, organized masterfully in a bookcase, or piled precariously high on the floor beside a chair add a warm and welcoming feel to a space that's difficult to achieve with a tablet. Books personalize a home and make it meaningful, because they're an expression of the inhabitants.  They make us smile when we catch a glimpse of a title we're immersed in sitting on a bench. They add an array of colour that infectiously cheers up a blank wall. And they ground us - by maintaining a sense of humbleness with their history, of exhilaration through their sagas of adventure, and of hope through their tales of everyday heroes and heroines. 

I still love that cool, crisp feeling of cracking open a book in my hands, and the smell of ink on paper. And running my fingers over a long row of faded and fraying hardcover classics...don't get me started. 

The simple, natural, ethereal qualities of books have long been an intentional and central design element in our homes, and one that I have always fully embraced. So after reading this news from IKEA, one of my other favourite sources of simple design, I was deflated.

Until I read(via Reluctant Habits'  interview) what IKEA PR gal Marty Marston responded with. "I hate to dispel those who think the bookcase is dead," she stated. 'We do not see it that way. We really see books as decorative. Books will still continue to be something used to adorn. They’re rich and they’re textured.”

Whew. Books in design are not a fading trend. Now I just hope that they aren't relics in the hands of actual readers either.

OK, I guess I can fish my IKEA catalog out of the recycle bin now. Or perhaps I could just scroll through the app on my iPad. 

using books as a design element for a meaningful home