The threat of e-readers and tablets to destroy the relevance of your trusty bookshelf never quite came to fruition. And even if you did take the big step to shunning your paperbacks for the characterless, black screen of an e-reader, you hopefully couldn't bear to get rid of all your beloved books at the same time. Scourge of the student, frustration of the flaneur and annoyance of the autodidact: Those stacks of books by your bed side just never gets smaller.
But while your book collection may not be getting much newer, there is a certain tasteful significance that your crinkled paper back collection has started to earn. What with the ever-increasing popularity of the vintage trend, and the emergence of age as a defining characteristic for our accessories, the old book is actually quite cool. And a good collection of books can be as effective on your wall as a known piece of art. A bookshelf is a design feature in itself and should not be ignored as a genuine style choice. From feature walls lined with books to kooky bookshelf arrangements making the most of your vertical space, the bookshelf is a key part of the way we live.
Sure, if it's overdone, books can sometimes seem like the epitome of pretentiousness. But there has always been a fine line between the cutting edge of fashion and pretension. You might say that no one would go out just to buy a meticulously aged set of penguin classics. It's maybe a step beyond the authentic look you're going for. But that wouldn't exactly be true.
Buying in pre-aged books is precisely what all the trendy bars and coffee shops are doing at the moment. Just like you might buy some faded jeans off the hanger, so too can you buy books simply for the look. And no collection is cooler than a shelf of uniform Penguin orange-spined classics. In simple terms they're considered to be a modern antique.
To book lovers this might seem a bit of a travesty. These iconic classics, from publisher Penguin, date from the early to mid-twentieth century. This was a time when affordable books revolutionised a new throw-away read culture. They have historical significance; and it's these books, or any similarly aged collections, that have become the go-to accessories for fashionable urban joints. No longer is a Warhol on the wall the definitive statement piece of your local barista. Even the faux-Banksy mural is being outdone by a new trend, or, rather, an old one, for classic literature.
A quick visit to eBay and you'll see that a job lot of old books is not as cheap as it once was, or should really be. People just don't throw away their material-bound hardbacks anymore. Even charity shops are hanging on to esoteric miscellany - books on horticulture, architecture or legal tomes, so old the content is almost worthless. But it's the spines that are being paid for: In reality, those faded blue, green and brown edges are the sought after trendy aesthetic feature. You don't have to go that far: from a style perspective you can leave the pretensions to the fast-paced fads of the city bars. But in our homes, we still have many books we've read or might someday want to read. This is a happy reminder that there is still space for our beloved bookshelves, even if all our future reading is done online.
Lining the walls of your dining room will look amazing, for instance, and act as a great talking point for guests. Even the simplest of Ikea shelving can be brought to life with a colourful array of books. And experimenting with the way you display them is a good step too. Put them in colour order if you want to make a real impact. Turn them all around, spines facing the wall, if you want to be different. Or alphabetise them if you like to think of your book collection as something other people can benefit from.
But, most of all don't be embarrassed about your expanding library. If the future has anything to do with it, your book collection will be a thing of rarity in 50 years, so whatever you do, don't go donating your hardbacks to the coffee house around the corner, turn them into a style feature of your home by integrating them into your designs.