The Case of the Vanishing Bookcase

BookcaseThe bookcase in the picture has been our my house for the longest time, and every visitor is impressed. I designed and built it after being inspired by a leaning bookshelf I saw at Centre Pompidou in Paris. Getting the shelves to dovetail into each other was an intriguing challenge. It is made of painted pinewood and the structure is sturdy, much like a bridge truss.

In recent years with the rise of ebooks I’ve been pondering the future of my bookcase. Are bookcases going the way of the printed book? Will they remain a common piece of furniture? and if I had no books to put on it, what would I do with it?

Then I came across a study claiming that ebook sales have plateaued at 30% of the market. Seems like the reports of the print book’s death have been greatly exaggerated. If 70% of book buyers prefer print books, their future is not so bleak after all. Printed newspapers are clearly going away (or maybe not?), but the researchers think that this trend doesn’t apply to books.

As much as I’d like to believe it, I’m pretty sure that some future disruptive technology will eat away significantly at print books’ market share. I can’t imagine bookcases being much more than an obsolete relic 30 years from now. Like vacuum tube radios and fax machines they’ll be cherished by nostalgic collectors, but won’t have a practical use – at least not the slanted ones.