are bookshelves becoming a thing of the past?

This week I saw two stories about bookshelves suggesting they are going the way of the record player and rotary telephones. It seems that in the dawning era of electronic books (and I am the first to confess: I LOVE my Kindle) that bookshelves are becoming obsolete. Both Time.com and The Economist wrote about Ikea’s plans to remake its famous Billy bookcases to contain all sorts things besides books. The shelves are becoming deeper and they’re getting optional doors – all the better to hold things that aren’t books, like tsotchkes (and I am the first to confess: I LOVE tsotchkes).

In our house, we still have a lot of novels and other assorted paper products, like magazines, kids books, cookbooks, photography books. But it’s true that they are not the only objects that live on our shelves. When we staged our apartment to sell, in the photo above, we cleaned up the bookshelves so they contained very few books. Our realtor thought this would be more appealing.

These days, I find myself drawn more and more to old books and first editions. Is it the nagging sense that classic printed matter is becoming more precious? On our mantel is a first edition of EB White’s This is New York, a must have and read. I’m not buying fewer books now that I own a Kindle. Rather, now I am buying books that I truly treasure and want to have and hold and display. And for those, I need bookshelves.

What about your home’s future? Will bookshelves still have a place there? — Angela M.

mongolia or bust? new anthropologie catalog sparks wanderlust

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Among the pile of September catalogs ready to launch us into the fall is Anthropologie’s stunning Issue 9. We’re not entirely sure where it was shot, but a story from Stylist last year hints that creative director Trevor Lunn and his crew were heading towards Mongolia. Judging from the vibrant textiles and textures sprinkled throughout, we’re guessing that’s right. If you’ve ever seen a story about a Mongolian Yurt (like this one on Flickr) or the movie Babies you will recognize the gorgeous patterns and embroidery. We’re keeping our eyes open for more behind-the-scenes info on this catalog (let us know if you find any), but in the meantime, we’re gonna drool over this one till it gets sloppy.

antique silverware: collected or curated?

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I’m a fan of collecting and using old silverware in unmatched patterns. The idea of it, anyway. Buying a curated place setting from Anthropologie, however, seems to defeat the purpose. For $36, you get a sight-unseen assortment of two forks, two spoons and a knife. Go to eBay, and you can find mixed lots of silverware for starting bids of $9.99 for 57 pieces. As an added bonus, what you see in the picture is what you get. Anyone have tips on finding antique flatware and creating a cohesive collection? — Sarah L.

post off: specimen boxes. cool or cruel?

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It was inevitable that as soon as butterfly specimen boxes began popping up in online magazines, an alternative would present itself. On Etsy, you’ll find plenty of specimen cases using real butterflies, raised for the trade. But now there’s also paper-crafted butterfly displays that are beautiful in their own right, like this one by CreativeJuiceDesigns. So which would you choose, real or paper? Me? I have to admit there’s something about the real thing that takes me back to being a kid at the museum in Chicago. I’d stand on tiptoes and look at the cases and dream of one day going to someplace where the butterflies were bigger than my hand. That’s a feeling that paper just can’t quite capture. — Sarah L.

put a bird on it: abigail brown’s avian textile art

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I’m a bird-watching geek but even if I wasn’t, I have to think I’d still love these handcrafted textile birds by UK artist Abigail Brown. It’s not just the texture and layers of stitching that’s so appealing. It’s also that she seems to capture the spirit of each bird in her work. The shy, sleepy owl. The hummingbird that even while sitting looks poised for flight. The curious blue tit with its head turned, watching. While they’re not cheap — prices range from just under $100 to over $600 — they’re beautiful works of art and certainly special-occasion worthy. Which one’s your favorite? — Sarah L.