While I browsed Craigslist for bookshelves a couple of weeks ago my friend eagerly unpacked his Kindle. And just like that, a whole species of furniture was put on the extinct list.
I imagine sometimes how the move from print to online will change the landscape of our lives. All that wall space we’ll have once the shelves are gone. Will art sales increase? (I confess, I’m not doing struggling visual artists any good. Perhaps because I’m so used to seeing things on screens anyway, I’m replacing the iconic New Yorker print behind my couch with a 4 x 4 set of Etch-a-Sketches so anybody can make a picture for my walls. It’s like open-source Warhol.)
What will happen to nightstands now that we don’t need to sleep beside a leaning tower of literature?
Will bags become smaller, carry-ons slimmer, briefcases more like clutches?
Already graduation season is harder to buy for – I can’t remember the last time I gave someone a reference book. Even my dictionary, the one book I consented to have laying out while I worked, I’ve now shoved beneath my computer monitor to make the space more ergonomic. I don’t think I’ve opened its pages in five years and am chagrined to admit I don’t miss it.
What feels more poignant is knowing that all sorts of things that I took for granted – navigating by guide words, routinely hauling boxes of media mail to the post office, yearning for a living room with built-in book cases – will be unknown to babies now being born. Already they live in a world without the Twin Towers, Michael Jackson, and the
I keep some of the last in my nightstand, in a drawer with my address book, a good paperback, and a pile of foreign currency. The stash used to be my must-haves in case I ever had to travel overseas in a hurry. Now I keep it around just for nostalgia’s sake, a trove of fossils.
Kelly Nuxoll is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.