The Pen Is Mightier Than The Tech

While sales of computers and tablets are relatively flat there’s one market that continues to grow at a strong rate. Despite our increasing dependence on tech to capture information, pen sales are growing according to Belinda Lyone, the group general manager of office supply company COS.

“It makes no sense but it’s true,” said Lyone.

Based on COS‘s numbers, cheap pen sales aren’t all that exciting but people are spending more on premium pens. For example, retractable pens are outselling capped ones two to one she noted.

Lyone said that as people are using pens less that they are becoming fussier as they want to use something they like more for those limited times. The other thing is people aren’t hanging on to pens until they run out of ink, so they are replacing them earlier in the pen’s lifecycle.

While some people don’t care what pen they use, others will argue strongly over the preference for black or blue ink, caring about specific colour shades, ball-point versus rollerball, nib thickness, ink depth and other specific attributes. For some people, the pen they use is a very personal decision.

“Lefties have to be careful about smudging. Lefties have specific preferences about inks that don’t smudge while they write”.

Lyone said that last year, the company sold two million boxes of pens, With each box holding about 12 pens, that’s well over 20 million pens. The market growth is coming from speciality pens such as rollerball and fine-liners.

Interestingly, while pen sales are up, paper sales are hitting a “turning point” said Lyone. Paper sales are flattening even though pens have been growing year on year for the last couple of years. While there have been some fads, like colouring pencils for adult colouring books, pen sales are still rising.

I have to admit, I’m not very fussy about pens. I tend to collect them from hotels as I travel so it’s been a long time since I spent money on a writing tool. But I imagine many Lifehacker readers are fussier than me.

Do you care about the pen you use? What is it about your pen that makes it special for you? How do you choose the pen you use?

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