Paper and the Art of the Comeback… a Global Perspective

“It’s a vital tool that’s evolved over thousands of years,” notes the narrator in this BBC video How Paper is Making a Comeback, “enabling the world to share stories, news and religious scripture.

The video is part of a BBC series called “Made on Earth,” developed to help us understand the global economy, its changing trends, and where we all fit into the larger scheme.

“Although we live in a digital age,” the video continues, “it’s a product that’s not just survived, but thrived.”

They give the example of one woman in the UK who, over the past 16 years, has created a thriving business creating beautifully decorative cards, made of high-quality stock on which designs are embroidered. This, she notes, requires the right quality paper at a price she can afford to pay.

“I don’t know what I’d do if I could get a quality card at a reasonable price,” she explains. Initially stocked in local shops, her reach has evolved into an online business with international customers seeking personalized cards.

It’s indicative of a trend in consumer preferences for print books and stationery. While newspaper sales have dropped off with the rise of digital media, greeting cards, paper books and other printed consumer goods are showing strength.

“In fact, in 2018,” the video notes, “paper book sales rose 1.3% in the U.S., selling 696 million,” proving that people truly do still love paper.

Another trend, the rising concern for our environment, has helped the multi-billion dollar paper industry reinvent itself with a focus on sustainability, both in the initial production and the rising importance of recycled paper.

The video points out there are undoubtedly challenges in reclaiming and repurposing paper for recycling, yet technology is fostering creativity that is solving some of those difficulties. Overall, it gives a fascinating glimpse into the true state of paper in the global economy, and our human connection to printed products. Definitely worth viewing if you want to understand paper’s true place in the new global economy.