Join the Paper Chain

Share Our Love of Paper

Become inspired to enjoy paper and print in all its glory.

© Nomad_Soul –

The paper map revival: Why people are choosing paper maps over satellite navigation?

Satellite Navigation has without a doubt revolutionised the way we plan and navigate our journeys. It nearly wiped the need for the humble paper map off the chart. So, are road maps now extinct? It seems not.

It appears, rather than completely disappearing off the radar, paper maps are seeing a bit of a resurgence. In fact, in 2018, the UK’s national mapping service, Ordnance Survey saw a 7% rise in sales of paper maps. Growth in the U.S has been even higher with sales of maps and atlases rising by almost 15%.

So, what has spurred this increase in demand for paper maps? Satellite Navigation systems are part and parcel of most driver’s journeys and continue to improve. Google Maps houses 21 million gigabytes of data and over 75% of the world’s roads are covered by the service. There doesn’t seem to be a practical reason for the surge of paper maps. It does not appear as though there is a growing need for paper maps but more that there is a desire for the paper map.

The trend seems to allude to the human need for more than just a stoic computerised voice handing out cold instructions. What you get from a traditional paper map, is the ability to see yourself in your surrounding – to grasp the context of the space you are in. Digitised mapping solutions simply have the mission to get you from one point to the next in the most convenient and efficient way. There is no need to gaze at the world around you.

It is for reasons like this that Ordnance Survey has reintroduced their OS Road Range map series after an eight-year hiatus.

“Sat navs and digital mapping are fantastic for getting road users from A to B, but they can be very restrictive when it comes to more leisurely driving and discovering something new.” Says MD of Ordnance Survey, Nick Giles.

Road maps can be intricate, artistic and even beautiful and are perfect examples of when design and function come together. They can be enjoyed as well as utilised.

A return to traditional road maps is not a sign of the pending death of sat navs. In fact, consumers see the traditional map as an accompanying tool to be used alongside the sat navs – a complementary pairing of paper and digital. The resurgence of paper maps is a welcome one in our mind and just as nearly every UK car has some sort of digital navigation it could be that each one includes a roadmap in the glove box.

For more interesting articles, sign up to our Paper Chain.