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The digital revolution has caused a lot of changes within our lifetime. Most people no longer have landline telephones in their houses. A majority of shoppers buy at least some of their products using their phones, tablets or other wireless devices. And physical paper and cardboard books are becoming a relic of the past.
So will there still be a need for bookshelves in the future?
Practical Uses for Bookcases
In the home, probably not. Many people no longer read physical books, preferring instead the convenience and affordability of digital readers such as Kindles, iPads, or even their smartphones. Audiobooks — which can be listened to while on the go, working out, or during your morning commute — are also becoming more popular.
But in a business or industrial setting, there is a need for some types of books, especially repair manuals, owner’s manuals, and reference materials such as dictionaries or technical volumes sitting on bookshelves.
The kind of hands-on people who work in warehouses, docks, manufacturing facilities, and other industrial settings often prefer the “old school” approach of opening up a repair manual or dragging a heavy volume out to the job site for easy reference. While these heavy volumes may eventually disappear, they probably will last longer than other kinds of books.
Psychological Uses for Bookcases
But books have always been more about simply reading. The walls of attorney’s offices, for example, are frequently filled with legal volumes that rarely, if ever, get opened.
Executives, journalists, university professors, and other people whose job is to appear smart will often fill their workspace with bookcases filled with books on a wide variety of subjects.
Having a lot of books can project an image of intelligence and curiosity, which are essential qualities in many different professions.
For the Love of Books
Then there are the people who simply love the look, the feel, and even the smell of physical, printed books. Reading a book on the commuter train or subway, carrying a book in your backpack, or keeping a book on your bedstand to help you relax at the end of a long day are simple pleasures that aren’t likely to go away anytime soon.
While books themselves may eventually go the way of vinyl LP records — of interest mostly for collectors and curiosity seekers — the transition to digital will likely take longer than other technological innovations. Too many people just aren’t willing to give up their books, at least not yet.