One interesting repercussion of the advent of the e-reader may well be the disappearance of the bookshelf. Before you scoff and say never just remember how resistant I/we were to putting our CDs and vinyl away. But away they have been put, and the solitary ipod is now the norm.
So if e-readers become more ubiquitous – and I think the jury is still out on that – will the bookshelf go too? And if the bookshelf does go, what will replace it as the vanity object in our homes?
Because, let’s be honest, the beautifully arranged rows of books are not about function or ease of reach. They are a shortcut, a quick sketch of our identity that we put on display for visitors. And very useful it is too. When I go to someone’s house my eyes are immediately drawn to their books, if they have any. (If they don’t I walk out and defriend them. JOKE) A quick scan of the shelves can tell us a lot about someone, or at least give us an opening into some more rich conversation.
So if our music collection has gone, and our books follow, what will we put up instead? I have no desire for a screen to do this job. And I can think of nothing worse than a pure unadorned room with no objects of interest in it. Nor do I feel able to tell much about people from their ornaments, though this may have to change.
Perhaps it will be a virtual shelf – a scrollable, changeable playlist of books and music and other cultural paraphernalia that we will literally use to ‘project’ something of ourselves. Of course, it will change with mood and according to friend type, pulling forward Dickens and Hardy when mum is around, or more edgy stuff when Nic comes calling. And thus my self will become less whole and more fragmented, as the guilty pleasures on my shelves that I never put away and allow all and sundry to see will get hidden.
[ HT Krystian – great interactive bookshelf shot on Flickr ]