Paper Road Map Sales Declining

For those of us who own a GPS, smartphone or a vehicle that has a navigation system, the news that paper road map sales are declining may seem commonsensical, but some believe that the experience of using a paper road map is unique enough to last.

TheNorthwestern.com recently reported in an article that states across the U.S. are seeing a drop in state-printed paper map sales. Compared to a decade ago, Georgia is printing half as many maps and map printing has dropped from 3 million to 750,000 in Pennsylvania. Washington state even discontinued map printing altogether in 2009 due to budget restrictions.

Some states, like Missouri, Connecticut, Mississippi and Nebraska, have not seen any decrease in map printing over that last decade, but even with their consistent numbers, no state is reporting an increase in map printing.

While transportation departments are cutting printing costs, the demand for maps is down. In-car GPS systems, and phones armed with mapping apps, are becoming more popular. Some travel agencies, such as AAA, are seeing fewer map pickups and are developing mobile apps, like the AAA TripTik mobile app, for digital users.

While many opt for the convenience of a GPS system, Chris Turner, a map-collector for Indiana, believes the freedom of using a real map will allow it to stand the test of time.

“With a GPS or other mapping system that you might use, you feel like you’re beholden to the GPS lady. You know? ‘Turn left here. Recalculating,” said Turner. “Well, with a map, you can trace your route and you can decide for yourself still where you want to go.”

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