Lost in our transition to digitized libraries has been the social aspect of displaying and handling physical media. What you have on your bookshelf, lying on your coffee table, or stacked in your disc rack makes a personal statement.
Young people have begun to recognize that value, spurring a return to physical books after what had been a steady decline in the industry. From The Telegraph:
[Research shows that] 48 per cent of those who bought vinyl do not play it within a month, with seven per cent not owning a record player at all.
“I do think there is a certain percentage of people who buy books and don’t actually read them,” [trading director of Foyles bookshop Siôn Hamilton] told an audience, when asked about the trend.
“The problem with digitalisation is that I could invite you over for dinner and play music in the background, but you’re only going to be aware of what I’m playing in that moment.
“To express my personality, I need something physical on my shelves.”
Owning books one has not read is nothing new. But the modern age presents an environment uniquely conducive to the purchase of physical books for the exclusive purpose of displaying them. No one knows what’s on your Kindle after all.