It's no mystery that e-books are super popular. Readers love e-books because they're incredibly portable and usually cheaper. Publishers love them because the margins are better, and they yield all sorts of useful data about sales patterns. Authors love them because e-books empower them to cut out publishers. Now that the technology is swimming in the mainstream, it's clear that the books world will never be the same. However, with such a seismic shift in the industry, there have been some unintended economic consequences for other worlds, too.
As readers are building out their digital libraries, it should come as no surprise that their physical libraries are changing, and the furniture industry is responding accordingly. The Economist reports:
Next month IKEA will introduce a new, deeper version of its ubiquitous “BILLY” bookcase. The flat-pack furniture giant is already promoting glass doors for its bookshelves. The firm reckons customers will increasingly use them for ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome--anything, that is, except books that are actually read.
Diehard ink-and-tree fanatics must gasp at the notion that bookshelves are no longer being built for books. But this doesn't mean that people are reading less. In fact, some people say that e-books are getting people to read more. Meanwhile, a cottage industry is emerging for decorative books. Earlier this year, The New York Times covered the burgeoning business of selling hardback books by the foot, for the sole purpose of giving (rich) people's homes that scholarly look. "I could have hung art," one buyer told the paper. "But I like the textural feeling of shelves, and of books on display."