Will Bookcases Become Obsolete?
With all the talk of technology, e-readers and cell phones, it appears likely for people to assume books will also go the way of the dodo – with bookcases not far behind, because, if you don’t need them for books, what use are they?
To many, a house without books is a bit bare. Ask around and you might be surprised how many people will say they actually dream of having a library in their homes, lined floor to ceiling with bookshelves, a place to curl up with a book and while away the hours on a rainy or snowy weekend.
As we show homes, we often see more modern ones that stress a futuristic lifestyle – where there are hardly any books in sight, or maybe one or two art books on a coffee table to match the white on white decor.
But, more often than not, we hear that prospective Buyers get excited when they see a listing that features “built-ins” and they begin to imagine what they will fill them with. After all, books add character and also say something about the homeowner.
Avid readers collect a lot of books. Even if they purge every now and then and send them off to a library or yard sale, more frequently than not new books will start to appear on the shelves again as the empty spaces “need” to be filled.
Bookcases are also useful for other purposes – like displaying artwork or family photos. Some designers even suggest pushing the books to the back and lining the fronts of the shelves with photos – a two-for-one decoration. Bookshelves, according to some sources, need only be 11-13″ deep, so they can fit in many places.
But, will the traditional purpose of a bookcase become obsolete?
Bookcases are typically used to keep books readily available for easy reference, like at a school, but, in this modern age, many classrooms are relying on a computer to hold a vast amount of information; once only found inside a bound paper book, and then stack the computer equipment on the once book-filled shelves.
You can’t deny how much time is devoted to online work, so when is there time to actually crack open a book and read for fun? Many people swear by their Kindles and Nooks, but when the electricity goes out and the charge is down, out pop the print versions.
Judging a Home By its Books?
Be honest, what would you really think if you walked into a house with big bookshelves that have no books in them (or worse, a whole room called a “library” with no books in it). Would you judge the homeowner? Depends on if you’re a bibliophile or not.
Some people purchase hard copies of a book just so they can be displayed as part of the decoration. You can tell a lot about a person by the titles they choose to show off, but you can’t do that if everything is digital.
We will only become more selective about the physical titles we buy. Books will become collector’s pieces, some will be signed by the author (you can’t do that with an ebook) at events like the annual Virginia Festival of the Book (March 16-20, 2016 in Downtown Charlottesville) – and this tactile love-affair with paper and print will continue, unless it becomes too expensive to print and publish books.
Is the book itself valuable to you? If the content is the only thing of importance to you and you’ve absorbed it, then the books can find another home – many libraries appreciate donations, and there are book exchanges at many local businesses, including ACAC. It’s a chance to read books you might not otherwise purchase and then pass them along when you’re done to the next reader in line.
A book is a reminder of a time in one’s life, and of the story it tells, and their physical presence acts like any good photo does, capturing the feeling of the time and place they were read; a remembrance of the time spent in a world created by that author, or a memory of the person who recommended the book. Having a book on the shelf reminds you of where you were when you read it, and who you were.
The bottom line is that you have to make yourself happy in your own space and decorate with as many bookcases as you choose. And, just as importantly, bookcases remind you that your favorite book is just an arm’s-reach away, something to be opened whenever you like, rather than having to switch on the e-reader, or wait for the battery to charge up.
Physical books don’t need batteries, and you can even read them in the bath, provided there’s a bookcase nearby to put the book down for when you next have the luxury of spare time to read.