Memories are more fond on paper.
A memory is something you hold in your heart. But thanks to paper, you can also hold it in your hand.
Reading those old letters from your grandfather to his young bride during war time, seeing his handwriting, smelling the lingering scent of his cologne – no digital experience could compare. Nor would a scan of that bookmark you made for your mom for Mother’s Day when you were six (is that a cat or a donkey?), or that first Valentine from your secret admirer in fifth grade that still lies carefully preserved in your memory box.
The tactile experience that comes with a memory on paper is part of the richness of that memory, a notion supported by a survey conducted by the Royal Mail, which determined that our mood will improve by up to 29% if exposed to a positive tactile feeling.1 And while the medium may become worn or damaged, and the ink on the page may fade over the years, handwritten letters, printed photographs or homemade crafts will never become obsolete, incompatible or inaccessible.
The relative permanence of paper is one of the reasons that the thank you note, for example, remains classic good manners. As Lisa Mirza Grotts, etiquette expert and authors said: “The look and feel of a handwritten note is incomparable and deeply personal. Compared to emails, Evites, and everything else electronic, paper stands the test of time.” She goes on to cite an even bigger authority on the matter, Tiffany & Co., which declared: “All good guests write thank you notes.”2 A handwritten thanks is not only a way for the sender to relive a pleasant experience or the thrill of a well-chosen gift, but can become a treasured memento to the recipient, who feels appreciated for their efforts.
Life’s milestones can be marked in many ways, but photos have been one of the main vehicles for keeping special occasions alive ever since that fateful day back in 1827 when the first picture was taken.3 Today, one of the most popular showcases for such snapshots and other memorabilia are scrapbooks. In fact, the craft of scrapbooking has become big business, with almost one in four people in the U.S. taking part (that’s over 32.1 million scrapbookers).4 In 2004, this breed of crafty individual spent $1.4 billion on supplies like albums, stickers and other embellishments to make their photos “pop” and tell a story to friends, family and generations to come.
But scrapbooking is far from the only big business banking on keeping paper memories alive. Somewhat ironically, technology giants are some of the most successful marketers and sellers of tools to make the most out of print. Home printer giant Hewlett-Packard has an entire section of its website, the HP Digital Photography Center, dedicated to helping customers take and print better photos, create photo gifts and, yes, enjoy their hobby of scrapbooking. In its Hit Print ad campaign, HP hails print as “the way we make our mark, our way of making sense of our experience, of telling our story.” It also points out “you can’t kiss a jpeg.”5
The marketability of memories in print has also been recognized by Apple, whose iPhoto digital photo management tool gives customers the opportunity to create and order customized photo books, cards and calendars featuring their own images.
Whether it’s coming from technology companies, the booming crafting market or just those who still like to sit down and write a note to a friend just to say thank you, the message seems to be clear. There is a place for paper in this digitally-driven world.
1 Harnessing the power of the five senses to create brand connections, Brand Sense-Royal Mail presentation.
2 The Perfect Stationery Wardrobe: Business, Social and Thank-You Notes, Lisa Mirza Grotts, www.huffingtonpost.com
5 HP - Hit Print