four reasons why pen and pencil are still king

From children choosing their essential back to school items to grown men and women channelling their thoughts on paper, our love of notebooks and pens has endured.

Whether it’s a treasured leather bound notebook, college ruled spiral bound book or classy ink pen, we’re not just loyal to stationery but positively enjoying it. In the last quarter of 2015, UK consumers spent £835 million on stationery and drawing materials, the highest quarterly spend of the last four years according to Statista.

As Cathy Bussey writes, ‘What is it about a new notebook, a beautiful pen, a gorgeous letter writing set or a cheeky and fun note card that unleashes such powerful emotions?’

There are a few theories on why the digital tsunami has not consigned paper and writing instruments to history:


According to psychologist Emma Kenny, stationery gives us a form of control and independence from an early age. Children may not have a huge say in their day to day lives but they can choose and use paper and pen. At school and home, children learn to tell their stories and write about their world on paper, with many a young generation expressing itself through notes or diaries. It’s likely this early memory of gaining a kind of control is imbedded in us, which may be why we turn to notebook and pen in meetings, training sessions, lectures and conferences.


Every time we choose a new notebook, thank you card, letter or envelope, we’re telling the world a little about ourselves. Trendy or timeless, mono or colour, the stationery buying decision is a personal one. Whether we’re perusing online, in a catalogue or in the aisles, the choice of colours, shapes and textures that stationery offers goes far beyond the anonymous grey, black or white of a keyboard or screen.


Sending someone a written thank you note, wedding acceptance or birthday card is still considered by many as the most respectful way to communicate. There is an absolute feel about a reply or invitation that drops onto the doormat, compared to the more temporary, all-too-easy nature of a Facebook message or text message.

Whatever our digitally enabled future may hold, it looks like we’ll be holding onto our stationery for a little longer.

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