Penthusiasts and journalers got a little nod from the Telegraph the other day with a sprawling article about how stationery shops are flourishing, despite the digital revolution.
In an age dominated by the dizzying proliferation of digital communications, of iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys, Twitter, Facebook, email, SMS and hundreds of other technologies, the simplicity of pen and paper suddenly commands a timeless attraction.
Ancient communication technologies are current like never before. Boutique stationers like RSVP and The Paperie in Chester are thriving: people haven’t stopped handwriting today any more than they eat lunch in pill form or commute to work in electric maglev cars.
The article, “How Twitter made handwriting cool,” covers the popularity of Moleskine and Field Notes notebooks, among others, and reveals interesting details such as the fact that Moleskine sold 12 million journals last year and expects to sell 14 million this year. It also explains why some journal-making companies think they’re benefiting from the reliance on tech.
Stuart Kirby, of the British company JOTTRR, offers notebooks with radiused, numbered pages, alternately lined and blank, plus perforated, pull-out grid leaves and elastic fasteners with yellow, fuchsia or black covers. JOTTRRs have been ‘flying off the shelves’ according to Young.
For Kirby, a self-confessed hard-core notebook user, they are the chance to capture something in a different way. Rather than diminishing the importance of the notebook, he says, digital has enhanced it.
‘In the digital age there is so much information, but using notebooks is a very different process to writing on a screen – you go back over notes, cross things out, amend and review. You remember it,’ Kirby says. Indeed, there are endless scientific studies proving that taking the time to form a letter – instead of just hitting a key – promotes neural activity, creativity, memory and fine motor skills.
While the article probably was one of those over-reaching trend pieces that tries to prove a new movement is afoot by trotting out a few isolated bits of anecdotal evidence, it still scored with us for a few reasons.
One, the heart of it was true: There is still a large community of those of us who will always enjoy the experience of communicating with the handwritten word. Two, it managed to articulate the emotional and tactile satisfaction we all get from writing on paper. And three, it mentioned one of our favourite blogs, Dave’s Mechanical Pencils, as the authoritative source for all pencil-related information. (Congrats on getting some well-deserved recognition!)
This is how the writer closed it out:
Notebookers and stationery fetishists stand firmly on one side of a modern social divide, representing intimacy and privacy; on the other side is the compulsive self-exposure of social networking, commenting and blogging. More reflective and considered than the digital diarrhoea of status updates, comments and tweets, less coldly perfunctory than emails and texts pecked out on an iPhone, iPad or BlackBerry, the vogue for notemaking returns writing to an act of expression instead of communication.
What do you think?