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Letter

Alright, I’m sentimental.

If you open my nightstand drawer, you’ll find a card from my grandfather (congratulating me for making the dean’s list,) a Valentine from old lover and several Mother’s Day cards signed in crayon. They share space with anniversary cards from my husband, supportive cards from my girlfriends, and a stack of sympathy cards that I received, but could not bear to read when my mother died.

That’s why the news that greeting-card industry sales are down – battered by free competitors online – is so unsettling to me.

Technology companies launched electronic greetings – no stamps, no handwriting needed. But we can’t save those sentiments as tangible reminders of the ones who love us. Emails and E-cards have no lasting significance.

Of course some people still buy paper cards: The average customer is in their 40s, according to American Greetings Corporation, which was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1905. That company still generates 89% of its revenue from cards and gift packaging. Interactive business accounts for just 4% of its revenue.

That’s good news for those of us who prefer the printed word to trendy new digital offerings. There’s a certain comfort that comes from reading a message in my grandfather’s meticulous penmanship or holding a birthday card signed by my mother’s hand.

Quite simply, the new way to share old sentiments isn’t as satisfying. Am I wrong?

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