For IKEA, “Bookshelves” Become “Shelves”


IKEA has apparently decided that books are a thing of the past.

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.

No More Books On Those Shelves

IKEA has 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 everything else.

From Time NewsFeed:

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.

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.

Who Needs Bookshelves?

Ebooks have become the single bestselling category in American publishing for the first time, according to new data released last April.

By contrast, sales of adult fiction in hardback so far this year have fallen by over 10% according to book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan: by this point last year, sales of the format had reached £29.7m, while this year they stand at £26.6m. Cheaper paperback sales, in contrast, have only fallen 6%. Hardback sales have fallen in volume as well as value, BookScan said, from 2.8m copies sold by this point last year to 2.6m this, echoing a trend over the last two years: 8.5m copies of adult fiction hardbacks were sold in total in 2009, compared to just 7m in 2010.

The latest report from the Association of American Publishers, compiling sales data from US publishing houses, shows that total ebook sales in February were $90.3m (£55.2m). This makes digital books the largest single format in the US for the first time ever, the AAP said, overtaking paperbacks at $81.2m. In January, ebooks were the second-largest category, behind paperbacks.

The Triumph Of Ebooks

America’s ebooks enjoyed a 202.3% growth in sales in February compared with the same month the previous year, the book trade association revealed. Print books fared much worse by contrast, with the combined category of adult hardback and paperback books falling 34.4% to $156.8m in February. The children and young adult category of print books fell 16.1% to $58.5m.
What do you think? Will books survive?

Related Story

Will Books Vanish From University Libraries?

Photo Credit: aiddy


Sue H
Sue H2 months ago

Sad to think that books may be a thing of the past. No e-books for me.

S v.
sri V7 years ago

When the economy is not doing well. It is illogical to expect increased sales of books, as among the luxuries to be cut books will be the first . Once the economy picks up sales of books will rise too.

Kathy Browne
Kathy Browne7 years ago

Shame on you IKEA. You've made a serious mistake. No longer any books? Sheesh I have 5 bookshelves full.

Jessie M.
Jessie M7 years ago

I am hoping to get an e-reader this year but I don't see my need for paper books going away anytme soon. Especially when it comes to childrens books. Having my niece sit on my lap and eagerly turning the pages so I can read to her while we both enjoy the beautiful illustrations is something I don't see electronic media eclipsing yet. I'm also a klutz and I wonder how much spilled food and dropping on the floor an e reader will take!

Richard S.
Past Member 7 years ago

A book has an appearance, it has a smell, a texture; it produces sounds as it is handled and a well worn favourite has a character born from the handling it has received.
Electronic media are hugely convenient, but they cannot as yet substitute for reality in all it's richness.

Beth Weatherbee
Beth Weatherbee7 years ago

I see hard copy books going the way of the rotary dial phone, LPs, 8 tracks, tube tvs, CDs and the old fashioned hammer - obsolete.

...probably not for this generation, but the children of the future will have a library in their pocket.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Carolyn B.
Carolyn R7 years ago

How about the content of those IKEA shelves? Do they out-gas formaldehyde like most fiber board? Are they really made from sustainably harvested wood like IKEA claims? Loads of them are made from "Baltic Birch" - are they polluting the rivers and coasts of the Baltic lands? Are they recyclable? I see lots of broken IKEA shelves lying on the curb when the college kids move each year, they are not so very durable, but OTOH there are DIY people doing things like "IKEA-hack" to modify, and maybe upcycle them? Are IKEA anywhere near as green as they claim? How do they treat their employees? Let's maybe take a more substantive look at this furniture giant, beyond the funny "Swedish-y" names they give their products.

Pamela wilkerson
pam wilkerson7 years ago

Well, I have lots of good books. I rather keep it until I want to reread it again and again.

Lilithe Magdalene

When books die, so will I...

I hate trying to read anything more than an article on a screen anyway. Hurts my eyes and brain. Books - much better.