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Are Greeting Cards Dead?

Are Greeting Cards Dead?
Indeed, it is an e-world. Everything is going electronic, and so are greeting cards. The situation makes you really wonder; are greeting cards dead?
Mrunal Belvalkar
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Anyone feels great when they receive an unexpected card in the mail.
- John Beeder, former President, Greeting Card Association
I could not have agreed more with someone. I mean, look at the collage alongside. Don't you feel a longing deep in your heart? Doesn't it make you reminisce about old times, when festivals called for repeated trips to the mailbox to see if anyone has sent you a card?

Greeting cards were, till quite recently, a common way to send out good luck and best wishes on different occasions in life. Right from Christmas, baby showers and birthdays, to the 4th of July and wedding anniversaries, there is always a card for every occasion. Or should I say 'was'? Greeting cards seem to have died. Or have they? Let's take a look.
It All Begins
The oldest instances of a greeting card being used date back to the Egyptian papyrus scrolls, the Chinese custom of sending good will and luck to celebrate the New Year, and the German's woodcut Valentine greeting cards. Apart from these, many people used to make and send handmade cards that were hand-delivered to the recipient. However, the introduction of the postal stamp greatly reduced the cost and hence increased the popularity of sending a greeting card to family and friends on special occasions.

Initially greeting cards were mostly sent out on three important occasions - Christmas, New Year, and Valentine's Day. Soon people came to employ well-known artists to make custom greeting cards for them for various occasions, and the practice got established as a business, with Marcus Ward and Co. being one of the earliest mass producers of greeting cards (1860s). Less than a century later, greeting cards became so popular that people actually did not need an occasion to send out a card to someone, with studio cards becoming the new rage.
christmas card
happy new year card
valentine card
The Good Ol' Days
Brooklyn based American Greetings is one of the biggest greeting card companies in the world. Would you believe me if I told you that the founder of American Greetings, Jacob Sapirstein, actually sold greeting cards from a horse-drawn cart before he founded the company? The story of American Greetings' success is one that starkly illustrates how an idea can turn your life around. The other big producer of greeting cards is Hallmark Cards. Hallmark Cards is one of the leading greeting companies in the United States. It was founded in 1910 by Joyce Clyde Hall in Dorothy's city, Kansas. What began as one man's idea of cashing in on the postcard rage of 1903, ended up becoming one of the biggest greeting card companies to be awarded with the National Medal of Arts in 1985.

The Greeting Card Association is a trade association that was founded in the year 1941 and has tried to promote the use of greeting cards by people. It has illustrious members such as the two greeting card giants mentioned above, and many other greeting card, stationery and gift wrapping paper manufacturers. It plays a major role in keeping all the greeting card companies going and making an effort though most people seemed to have gone electronic these days.
The e-card
The 1990s saw one word change the way people view the world around them; Internet. The Internet changed everything about life - education, entertainment, business, communication, everything! As the world caught on to the World Wide Web, the world of greeting cards retreated into itself as e-cards took over. E-cards became popular in the late 1990s, but are said to have been initiated around the early 1980s.

Why People Prefer e-cards - Many features of an e-card make it popular and rank above traditional paper greeting cards.
  • You can include animation in an e-card.
  • E-cards can be delivered by a single click of the mouse over thousands of miles.
  • E-cards allow an extremely high level of personalization. A user can upload his/her face in an animation video too.

These and many other reasons make e-cards highly sophisticated. Apart from this, you never miss a birthday or an occasion. Since e-cards are delivered within milliseconds, your wishes always reach on time. Besides, many greeting card websites allow users to make accounts and store the birth date of everyone they know. The card website then sends a reminder to the user on respective birthdays. So convenient, especially for those who can't remember birthdays!
The Current Scenario
The greeting card sections in many stationery shops appear deserted these days. You hardly see anyone buying greeting cards. Everyone prefers sending out an e-card rather than a traditional paper greeting card. Even greeting card companies have come up with websites that cater to the e-buyer. Hallmark Cards, American Greetings, Leanin' Tree Inc. etc., all have websites that offer scores of greeting cards for every occasion.

Being an optimist though, I would like to believe they are not. Indeed, the 'delivery to recipient' factor makes e-cards quite a favorite. However, there are still a lot of people who prefer paper greeting cards to their electronic cousins. You can see a handful of people making a beeline for the stationery stores when Christmas and New Year is around. Apart from that, many people like to supplement a birthday gift or a bouquet with a greeting card. I do that myself as well. I even make birthday cards at home sometimes. It feels nice, doing things for people you love.

The Greeting Card Association is taking a lot of effort to keep greeting cards alive. They still believe in traditional paper greeting cards. Recently, i.e. on 28th September 2011, Susan January, vice president of Leanin' Tree, Inc., was named as the new president of the association. January was quoted as saying - "The Greeting Card Association is poised to continue its excellent work on behalf of our entire membership, and I am committed - along with our Executive Committee composed of influential industry leaders - to celebrate, promote and preserve the tradition of purchasing and sending greeting cards... and to monitor trends and developments that are currently impacting the industry."
As I wrote this article, I revisited my childhood days. Memories of receiving all those greeting cards on my birthday put this wide, ear-to-ear grin on my face. It also planted a resolution in my heart - to send out a greeting card to all my near and dear ones this month; and this is one resolution I am going to keep! I will conclude this article with Hallmark Cards' slogan; Do not shy away from picking a card for a loved one "When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best".