Screen or Paper?

If you’re making a list (and checking it twice) this Christmas, whether it’s for all the presents you’ve yet to buy or a food list for the big day, how are you making this list? Are you picking up pen and paper and writing it out in the ‘old fashioned’ style or are you more a tech guru who’s got everything written and stored on your phone or tablet?

Stationery is an industry where we can’t seem to put a finger on whether it’s being taken over by the tech industry or not.

Just last month, the owner of stationary specialist Staples, stated that its UK stores would be closing. Although Staples may have suffered recently from people buying less of the everyday stuff when it comes to stationery, more of us seem to be falling in love with more specialist branded stationary, items such as Moleskine Notebooks and Filofax.

Because of this there’s a few businesses of stationary that are doing a good trade. “There’s no question that our stationery business at present is doing incredibly well, and in fact it’s somewhat of a surprise,” says Geraldine James, buying manager at Selfridges, where stationery sales are up 20% this year. “It’s the same as carrying a handbag you’re proud of. It says something about you,” she says.

Lisa Rutherford, buying manager at John Lewis, agrees that stationery is a “fashion accessory” these days. “It’s really cool now,” she says. “There’s lots of creativity with stationery right now. Personalisation is important”, she says, “for instance items that say things like Master Plan or Busy Bee send a message about your personality”. And, she adds, “you don’t need to feel guilty about spending the money because stationery is useful. It’s a virtuous purchase”.

So, could stationery provide a balm for our overloaded, over-digitalised lives? Psychology writer Oliver Burkeman thinks perhaps it can.
“I definitely feel like my life is more under control when things are on a list, but the interesting question, I suppose, is why that feels more the case with a paper notebook than a digital list,” he says. “Perhaps it’s because the world of digital technology is ultimately mysterious – I don’t truly understand how my laptop or smartphone work, after all – whereas a paper notebook is physical, down-to-earth, easily understandable.”

It looks like stationery is for now safe from the threats of the digital world, being a stationery fan myself, I hope that it stays for a long time, although saying that I can see the benefit of technology, i.e. using computers in the office for file storage & sending emails, however when writing a list I’ll take out a notebook and pen and write it myself!

What do you prefer, stationery or tech? Let us know by commenting below!

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