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IKEA anticipates death of paper books, tweaks bookcase

September 9, 2011 |  6:33 pm

GetprevWill this symbolize the death knell of the paper book?

Furniture giant IKEA will debut a new version of its classic BILLY bookcase that is intended to store everything except well-thumbed reading material, a report says.

Coming out next month, the tweaked bookcase will feature deeper shelves meant to display "ornaments, tchotchkes and the odd coffee-table tome -- anything, this is, except books," the Economist reported.

The Swedish furniture company is already pushing glass doors for its bookshelves, anticipating that customers will increasingly utilize bookcases for decorative purposes, the report said.

IKEA may be right. Certainly, times are changing -- and digitizing -- for the book business.

About 12% of American adults now own an e-reader, the first time that number has pushed into double digits since the gadgets became available. Sales of e-books in America finally surpassed those of adult hardbacks in the first five months of the year, and online retailer Amazon.com reported that it sells more digital books than ones printed on paper. Borders Group, once a book peddler to rival Barnes & Noble, is liquidating all of its U.S. stores.

Some have predicted that like the mastodon, bookstores too will go extinct.

[Updated, 1:31 p.m.: Mona Liss, a public relations director at IKEA, clarified in an e-mail that the "original" BILLY bookcase would still be available for purchase, in addition to the tweaked version.

"We created deeper shelve BILLY because our customers wanted to put bigger books on the shelves, those great big coffee table books along with mementos," Liss wrote. "BILLY has gone through transformations since production started in 1979 and has adapted to several lifestyles including places for CDs and DVDs. BILLY is one of IKEAs most iconic products and will continue to live on holding books for the many people. BILLY loves books and so does IKEA."]

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-- Shan Li

Photo: Original version of the IKEA BILLY bookcase, still intended for books. Credit: IKEA 

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