We show that the formation of membrane tubes (or membrane tethers), which is a crucial step in many biological processes, is highly nontrivial and involves first-order shape transitions. The force exerted by an emerging tube is a nonmonotonic function of its length. We point out that tubes attract each other, which eventually leads to their coalescence. We also show that detached tubes behave like semiflexible filaments with a rather short persistence length. We suggest that these properties play an important role in the formation and structure of tubular organelles.