A few days ago, I was sorting through some boxes of old stuff around the house. I stumbled across a couple of party invitations—both that I printed at the shop some 30 years ago. It was for a party Bob Allbery and I hosted back when we were college-era roommates—before families, before we became business partners—just two guys who wanted friends to come help us “stock the bar.” (Hey, we were living on a budget.)

Seeing that invitation brought back thoughts of that time—stuff I hadn’t thought about in ages. It was like that little slip of paper had unlocked a hidden store of memories in my brain. In an instant, it all came flooding back.

You’ve probably had an experience like this before. Whether it’s a high school yearbook, an old box of photographs, or a letter from a friend, printed records have a special way of transporting us to the past. Call them the “keys to memory.”

Yes, web and mobile technologies have crept into that realm, allowing us to capture, curate, and share every aspect of daily living. But print has a place in our minds and our memories that digital just can’t touch.

Take books, for example: there’s no question that e-readers are here to stay. But we’ll never toss our hardcovers and paperbacks altogether: there’s something about a book’s smell, its pages, the way its cover tatters over time—that keeps us coming back.

It’s the same with any kind of communication. A banner ad flashing at the top of a browser window holds your attention for a second or two. But a print ad does something different. When executed correctly, it forces you to take a second look. It evokes ties to other things you’ve read, other words and times and places gone by.

As I think about our role as a 21st-century printer, I keep thinking back to that old party invitation.

I’ve realized that what’s special about print is that it has a way of sticking around. Working its way into your memory—and showing up when you least expect it to.

Print feeds our need to remember things, to tell stories and revel in our experiences. If you ask me, that’s a job worth protecting.

Thinking about giving your print materials a refresh? Contact Oregon, and we’ll help you get started.