It is easy to see a time when there is no need for shelf space as so much of our media shifts to digital form. My oldest two have their own iPods that they fill with music. Many movies and TV shows are now downloadable, so there is no need to buy a Blu-ray or DVD. It's near impossible to even find a VCR anywhere other than a thrift shop. It seemed like books were the only mainstay, and then along came the Nook and the Kindle, bringing Star Trek technology another step closer to reality.
I don't want to sound like a Luddite, but I would hate to see the demise of the family bookshelf. I grew up in a house full of shelves. I'm sure being surrounded by books helped me to develop a love for reading. I don't know if the same would be true if I had grown up with a fully loaded e-reader. My mother adapted faster to the technology than I did. My sister and I bought her her first Nook for her 69th or 70th birthday. She recently upgraded to one of the newer models and gave me her old e-reader. My husband took to it faster than I did. I tried fiddling with the fonts, but I really can't pull myself into a story with it the way I can when I'm cuddled with a book. I do like it for playing audiobooks. I don't have an iPod, so I load my audiobooks onto the Nook and I can carry it room to room. Aside from accidentally hitting shuffle during a road trip, it has worked out well.
The nice thing about bookshelves is that they give me an unobtrusive way to get to know my friends and family. Browsing gives me something to do while they are off answering the phone or dealing with a child's needs. You can learn so much as you browse the shelves in someone's house. Some bookcases have interesting titles I haven't heard of among the jumble of books. Some shelves are so orderly you can tell the owner is very organized and neat. Some shelves are overstuffed with material. The books are in rows, two or three deep. This is a sign of a reader (or watcher, or listener) who can't bear to part with their stuff. Each has had some profound affect on their life or holds deep meaning for the owner. I like finding a book I've read, a CD of a favorite artist, or an obscure movie I thought no one else knew about on a friend's shelves. It connects me. It gives us something to talk about.
I know it would be better for our planet if we had less stuff. I know we can save a lot of trees if we use eBooks instead of print. I just need to move slowly into this new digital world. I'm not ready to part with my 45s and vinyls. Some of my audiocassettes still work and so does the old TV with the build in VCR.
And I need to finish reading the pile of books I've brought home from the library and the bookstores first.