The Resurgence of Paper

Dec 04

After two decades of our culture slowly transitioning into a world of digital proliferation, traditional paper is experiencing a resurgence. Don’t call it a comeback though, paper has been here for years (over 2,000 in fact), but now more than ever, writers, artists, business professionals, and students are putting their smart phones aside for something tangible and reliable. Read on to learn more about the resurgence of paper.


According to The Washington Post, today paper is a $132 billion industry, and its industry leaders are working hard to continue to prove to the masses why paper will always be essential to our everyday lives. In 2015, paper and packaging manufacturers launched a multimillion dollar advertising campaign aimed at reminding consumers about the tangible, predictable benefits of paper. The campaign leveraged the emotional ties that we associated with a wide variety of paper products.

Consider it for yourself—that feeling of holding a physical birthday card in your hand, the convenience of writing down driving directions without fear that a dead battery will result in wrong turns, and the convenience of being able to see your plans for the day, week, or month, displayed in large format and hung on your office wall.

The goal of the 2015 campaign was to remind consumers about the ways in which paper can solve problems, provide an outlet for creativity, and connect us to one another in personal, meaningful ways.

What paper loyalists understand is that paper will never leapfrog digital, and will never replace smartphones, computers, and tablets as our primary communication method. Our society is too ingrained in the digital space to expect smartphones and tablets to go the way of the Laserdisc, the word processor, and the palm pilot. The goals of bibliophiles and other paper lovers, however, is to peaceably co-exist with technophiles and gadget gurus. Based on the sales trajectory of paper planners, notebooks, and writing accoutrements such as fountain pens, the hope that paper will serve as a permanent counterpart to digital technology is starting to feel like a reality.

After all, what would scrapbooking be without paper? How could young children experience the magic and thrill of mailing physical letters, scrawled in red and green waxy crayon, to the North Pole? How could millions of children and adults have learned to adore the world of Harry Potter, if author J.K. Rowling hadn’t been able to write the first book in her famed book series on a traditional typewriter?

What gives paper manufacturers hope that future generations will continue to value all that paper has to offer, are the positive results of recent research. For example, studies have shown that Millennials, those born during the apex of the digital revolution between 1982 and 2004, actually prefer printed textbooks, despite never leaving home without their mobile devices. The majority (57%) of college students in particular, who have had the opportunity to experience using both eBooks and traditional textbooks, prefer paper books.

For years, paper was fighting to keep its place among eBooks and iPads, and in 2012, paper book sales hit an all-time low. New research has shown, however, that traditional paper book purchases are on the rise. According to Nielsen BookScan, in 2014 the number of paper books sold to consumers increased 2.4 percent, data that includes sales at online book seller Amazon and retail shops across the nation.

Despite all of the value that digital technology continues to bring to our culture, imagining a world without paper children’s novels, printed photographs, and paper concert tickets is inconceivable to many. It is that preference for the tangible and tactile that will always make paper a necessity for many. As more and more people continue to experience digital fatigue, they will continue to turn back to the comfort and reliability of its perpetual standby: paper.

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