Recently, we came across a very interesting article about how the invention of paper has had an impact on our world. The article, written by Tim Harford and published on the BBC website, generated a series of reflections on what we think the future of paper will be and whether this incredible invention will survive extinction in our increasingly digital society.
Once upon a time in China
The author opens his article explaining that Gutenberg’s printing press could not have had such an impact on the Western world without an often overlooked invention: paper.
Overall, we think that Tim Harford’s article is a great bedtime story for other paper lovers who seek to gain bites of knowledge about the print press and the different processes used to make paper since being invented by the Chinese nearly 2,000 years ago.
Here’s the link to the full piece if you’d like to check it out.
Like the author states at the end of his article, we also believe that paper will survive extinction. Below we try to summarise the reasons why we think that Kindle and the Internet will not kill the material we love.
Digital vs. Print
Surprisingly, despite the advantages of digital that lets us travel light with a library at our fingertips, a lot of people still prefer print on paper for leisurely reading and learning. While most of us now get the news from the web and communicate via email and social apps, many still enjoy reading a physical book instead of swiping a finger on a screen.
Furthermore, according to a survey published by TwoSides North America:
“…a large majority of people see the benefits and value of print on paper. This not only includes leisure reading, but also critical tasks like managing finances.”
Certainly, the digital age has brought many advances and has revolutionised the way we can work, educate ourselves and engage with others. We are totally supportive of the digital revolution and think that we should all try to embrace it.
While some digital communication might be missing the charm that a more traditional paper version can carry—such as a scented love letter versus a message on WhatsApp, an invitation on premium paper complete with a wax seal versus a facebook event invite—one cannot deny that it is certainly a more practical, reliable and instantaneous way to communicate.
As a result, mail correspondence you would write to a friend or relative are dead, having been replaced by email. Emails have, in fact, replaced paper letters for everyday communication because they offer a more efficient mean of communication.
However, from our research, it emerged that many people still prefer to receive their bills and statements on paper versus digital formats and we think these activities should shift to digital instead—we do not see the point of accumulating piles of paper around the house to manage one’s finances and carry everyday tasks which can be dealt with digitally.
On the other hand, print still plays a major role among high–end brands that use paper as a sensory stimulus to connect and engage with luxury consumers.
We are thrilled to witness how paper is shifting its role and hope it will continue reinventing itself and survive the rise of digital. Surely, for some things, our love and attraction to paper still make us nostalgic of the materiality of a paper support.
Apparently today, those who are enchanted by paper and might be feeling a bit nostalgic of its scent can buy paper-scented candles… 🤔 We think that nothing beats the fascinating things that you can do with a piece of paper—get a new notebook instead, open it, appreciate its pristine paper fragrance and then doodle your thoughts on a sheet, fold it into a paper plane and throw it out of your window. Or how about writing your wishes on a piece of paper and then stick it in a bottle to set it free in the ocean?… use a glass bottle, of course, as there’s enough plastic in the ocean!