The Relevance of Paper Maps in the Digital Era

Arquivo em: Map Printing / October 20, 2017

As Americans become ever more tech-obsessed, the relevance of paper repeatedly comes into question. Paper books. Paper maps. Even the completion of homework seems to be transitioning over to the digital realm. Does this mean print is dead? Hardly. Buried under the latest shiny new fad, print, whether a map, menu, or math homework, offers tried and true benefits that refuse to die. Among them….


Printed maps aren’t going anywhere when the internet goes down, or if your battery dies. They don’t ‘malfunction.’ Barring flame or flood, paper maps – and other paper media – can be stowed to go anywhere. From the hustle and bustle of New York to the most remote, off-the-grid locale, paper maps offer reliable access and ease-of-reading. And that’s not just a printing company’s take on it: From young to old, studies show people still prefer paper.


Paper maps still outshine digital for both precision and dependability. The U.S. military still relies upon paper maps over digital. And in the rare cases instances protocol was breached and paper maps overlooked, such as with the ‘USS Guardian,’ the fallout was massive. Apple, Google, GPS and other digital mapping failures have likewise led to unintended consequences, from the maddening to the tragic. Detailed and dependable, paper maps may not point to where you are, but they won’t give you the wrong directions.


From tourist traps to low income populations, paper offers an affordable distribution method. Packed with information, data can be disseminated with ease and for pennies, as opposed to expense of sensitive electronics and boxed-in update requirements. The government of Portland saw this, and in 2011 used paper maps to encourage low-income residents to visit local bike and walking trails – an ideal solution for those lacking access to the internet or smartphones.

Outdated? Hardly. Impersonal? Grab a pen and problem solved. Paper versus digital is just another example of necessary coexistence. With unmatched benefits, paper maps are here to stay.