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Monday, February 6, 2023

Musings - Bookshelf Love


"I marvel that the complexity of the human heart can be expressed in the arrangement of one’s books. Inside this paper universe, I find sense within confusion, calm within a storm, the soothing murmur of hundreds of books communing with their neighbors."  Leslie Kendall Dye

It was 2007 when ebooks became mainstream thanks to the Kindle (although Sony Librie, released in 2004) and by 2010 they were clearly here to stay.  Many claimed that ebooks would be the death of physical books. So far that hasn't been the case, although ebooks have made a serious dent in print book sales.  

"According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center that examined how we consume our book media and what preferences the consumer base seems to demonstrate, traditional print is still the most popular format for both the adult reader market and the child and developing reader market. A staggering 37% of Americans claim that the exclusively read print books and don’t engage with their digital counterparts, compared to only 7% who claim that they only read eBooks and digital editions and don’t engage with paper copies.  The Pew Research Center data also discovered that print books outsell digital formats by 4 to 1, and only 3-in-10 would describe themselves as ‘an eBook reader’ in 2022. It’s a larger figure than in previous years, but still a smaller section of the marketplace than we’d expect when the rest of the world is going in the direction of rapidly increasing digitization."  Scan, Listen, Understand blog: Why Do Print Books Still Dominate the Reading Market in 2022?

Buying used books is on the rise to be economical because many people just like having a physical book but don't like the expense.  Buying print is especially true in academic circles for research where print is still the preferred format.  While many in the 55+ age group have readily jumped on board the ebook train, many don't want to worry about keeping a devise charged or learn the technology and consider a paperback more convenient. Plus,you can purchase a print book pretty much anywhere from the airport to the grocery store anymore.

But surprisingly, a younger generation loves the print book as well.  TikTok and Instagram enthusiasts particularly love having the physical copy for photos of the cover art of books in their hands or with creative "poses".  And print is still easier to share with a friend.  

But I was fascinated by the growing trend of younger generations falling in love with book shelves and book cases for the atmosphere they create.  I have watched Facebook reader groups post about their bookshelves and asking how others organize their books: by color, size, or by genre, alphabetize by titles or by authors etc.  They discuss bookshelves for their newborns or toddlers with physical books in the baby's room so the children grow up with books as a part of their world when they become aware of their surroundings.  

In 2020 with the pandemic and web meetings galore, the ability to pick a stylish bookcase background became very popular and we've all seen news interviews with the person backed by carefully curated bookshelves behind them as a statement both design-wise but philosophical as well.

Another sign of how prevalent book shelf love has become is the abundant articles and advise about styling your bookshelves so the overall effect is graceful and a decor item featuring your beloved books.  Such advise as: alternating from horizontal to vertical stacking, a few meaningful mementos like a vase, statue, and cherished photos in decorative frames, perhaps a decorative basket, plus layering deep shelves with a bigger item to the back and smaller to the front.  Don't forget those statement making bookends or an easy-care plant or flowers.

Bookshelves/bookcases are expensive so here are some directions on repurposing drawers to create a bookshelf (click here).  And to also repurpose the chest of drawers into a bookcase (click here).

I take all this bookcase love as a sign that print books will be around for a while longer.  I'm happy about that because print books have a long tradition since the Gutenberg press and it is an artform in itself.  

Check out this shortish video of making a blank page book from hand.  This is the art of book making-before automation.

Keep the Book Love Alive!!

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