Are Greeting Cards Dead?

NPR did an interesting article today about sending eCards versus paper cards. As the owner of a newly launched small greeting card company, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. The article spoke mostly about how Facebook users send cards to friends, and how the sender’s entire network can see they’ve sent the card, which in my mind, dilutes the personal touch of sending a card in the first place.

I come from a family which has always reveled in sending cards. My grandfather was a dedicated correspondent, sending letters and cards to all and sundry his whole life. My mother and aunt sent each other, and their friends, cards for every holiday and notes in-between (a habit my aunt continues to this day.) My mother kept detailed lists of the Christmas cards she had sent, which card went to whom, so that she wouldn’t duplicate her efforts for at least several years following. My mother was a huge collector of contemporary greeting cards (as well as the vintage ephemera I work with now.) She loved to shop for cards, and had several favorite small card companies that she bought whole lines from (including Green Tiger Press, which is now Laughing Elephant, who make the most gorgeous high-end cards!)

Many years ago, when my children were small, my mother and I discussed starting a small greeting card company like Green Tiger Press. She had her huge collection of vintage images, and knew we could do the same sort of thing they do. She also considered licensing her images to a company such as GTP, which would allow her to keep her collection, but still branch out and perhaps generate some income at the same time (so she could buy more cards, of course!)

When my mother died, my father, who was not a collector or fan of ephemera, considered selling her whole collection (over 10,000 pieces of paper) to a dealer, just to get it out of the house (it practically fills a room.) I convinced him to let me sell the postcards on eBay for him, and KatyDids Cards was born. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve sold postcards, Victorian trade cards, and other paper items on eBay, in partnership with my dad.

But this fall, I decided I wanted to try to make my mother’s dream a reality. The technology of printers has gotten to the point now that I can print a card that is almost (not quite) as good as one printed on an offset printer. I am a fair hand with Photoshop, and can fix any blemishes or tears in the cards, and correct fading or yellowing with age. So I bought the company from my father, and have jumped headlong into the greeting card business. I still sell on eBay, but every card that is sold has a scan saved that I can use later (I had to buy a big additional hard drive to store the images!) And I sent out my first catalogue of Christmas cards just recently, and already have a number of orders for cards.

So my reply to NPR is, greeting cards aren’t dead at all! There’s no way an eCard can replace the personal feel of something you take out of your mailbox, sit down and open, and see the writing of the sender. The ability to touch and feel things is still very basic to human nature, and holding something that someone who cares about us has also held reaches deeply into our hearts. No eCard can replace that I think.

So I encourage you all to find a source for cards that you love, images that move you, and send cards! (And email me at katydidscards@gmail.com for a catalogue of holiday cards, and a sample card mailed to you if you’d prefer.) Note, my website, www.katydidscards.com is still under construction, but I hope to have it up and running soon!

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