3 important changes to the IKEA BILLY bookcase

The first thing I said was “Oh no!”

The IKEA BILLY bookcase is one of the most beloved piece in IKEA’s stable and a favourite for IKEA hackers. As far as I can tell, nothing’s broken, so what is there to fix?

Designer Gillis Lundgren conceived the idea of a “proper bookcase” on a paper napkin and named it after a friend. Since then over 120 million units of the flat-packed bookcase has been sold in the last 44 years. Quite a feat for a humble bookcase.

How will the IKEA BILLY bookcase change?

Structurally the BILLY bookcase retains the same design. However, IKEA will relaunch a new version with 3 changes to springboard BILLY into a more sustainable future. IKEA aims to be a circular company by 2030 and updates to the iconic bookshelf will use less plastic and make it more easily assembled.

1. Wood veneer to paper foil

The new BILLY will no longer be finished in wood veneer but in high-quality paper foil with printed wood effect.

“For many years, we’ve worked with wood veneer. But natural resources have become more and more scarce”, says Product Design Developer Bonnie Yu. “Shifting to paper foil, we’re using already mass-produced and less scarce material. We harvest less trees, while customers will see the product looking better with a more competitive price.”

Paper foil is not new and you may have noticed it on the labels at IKEA. You’ve already seen it on white BILLY bookcases which explains the $20 cheaper price tag. With paper foil, IKEA has more options with colours and finishes. We can expect to see the new BILLY in black oak, dark brown oak, brown walnut, oak, and birch. 

3 changes to the IKEA BILLY bookcase wood veneer to paper foil

2. Plastic edge bands to paper

Next thing gone are the plastic edge bands covering the exposed edges of the particleboard. You see the plastic trim on the front edges of the frame. Covering the edges with paper will offer a seamless look and decrease the amount of plastic edge bands used to enclose the bookcase.

“Using only 60 centimeters of edge band is already very little, but we want to go further by replacing the plastic with paper edge bands”, says Bonnie.

3. Snap on back panel

The last change is what I’m most excited about. It will solve headaches like this. The new BILLY will have a nail free back panel set to snap in and out of place more easily. If you want to move, you can easily disassemble and reassemble the bookcase, without fear of tearing the back panel.

“When there’s no choice of buying new, you always try to look at what you have, taking care of it, and reusing it. By building disassembly into the new BILLY, we make it easier for people to take it with them in every move and to enjoy it for a longer time”, says Bonnie.

Let’s hope the new backing board removes the sliding in problem too.

“The new BILLY will be smarter about resources, even better for thin wallets, and beautiful,” says Bonnie. “I think that’s amazing.”

The new BILLY will launch in Asian Pacific markets in July 2022, and in other markets starting January 2024.

Do you like these changes to the IKEA BILLY bookcase? Tell us in the comments below.