Until last week I had no idea there were such things as stationery addicts. But it seems there are. And although I have been rather slow to understand the concept, it seems I have a couple of them among my customers at Admiral Self-Storage.
But unless you misunderstand me, let me point out that stationery addicts are not people who are secretive about their addiction. Rather they are quite open and ready to share the information with anyone who asks.
These are people who collect exercise books, notebooks, memo books, writing sets and rubbers, coloured pens, propelling pencils, fountain pens, marker pens, Post-it Notes, highlighters in all sorts of different colours, envelopes all shapes and sizes, and… well you get the picture.
What’s more, apparently the fascination is growing. As fast as computers take over our lives so the stationery collector fights back, collecting more and more and more and…
Apparently the sale of stationery products is doubling every 18 months. Big stores like John Lewis are expanding the area they give over to stationery. Even WH Smith is cutting back on book space to provide more for fancy notebooks and the like. Manufacturers report profits rising accordingly.
Specialist manufacturers have started to appear. Organisers, which flourished and then died a death, are coming back. So are pencil sharpeners.
All of this was news to me – as was the fact that apart from using such items or leaving them on a suitably antique-looking desk for the passing visitor to see and be impressed by the fact that a) one has a desk and b) one has a notebook, people actually collect them.
As with any collection, asking why people collect something is not likely to generate a particularly informative answer. But for everyone who is will tell you about how this fountain pen is perfect for writing on this style of paper, bound in this moleskin, there is another who just collects.
And a couple of those are storing their collection with Admiral Self-Storage.
Of course, some people use notebooks to write down original ideas, the thoughts that turn into novels which earn internationally recognised prizes and slots on late night arts programmes on TV channels that no one watches. Or at least they do in their imaginations.
But others are endlessly searching for the perfect notebook which, they say, will be put on display on the desk never sat at.
Of course, some people do use them. I know that in one collection at Admiral we have a beautiful book in which the most interesting things people have said to the owner is written down. (I peeked inside. The first quote said, “It’s cold inside”. The next one said, “The rainbow has turned blue; my eyes burn”.)
Some people – like the people who buy a diary with enough space in each day to write a monument dedicated to the events of the past 24 hours – actually believe they will soon fill the book, and, of course, some, like my customers, do.
But apparently there is a promise in a notebook, and that is that nothing will be lost. No thought, no passing moment. It will be there, recorded so that just as we look back now to Samuel Pepys we can look back to their notebook for a record of what life really was like in the 21st century.
It is a bit like Facebook, without a computer.
But I think times may be changing. As an awareness is growing that digital technology is not actually very reliable as a means of keeping the past for all times, and as we all come to live with the notion that if you have a thought, the best way to share it with the world (or at least with MI5, the FBI, Mossad, and the KGB) is to send out an email to a friend.
It is a bit of a puzzle to me, but I have been told that stationery actually affects how people feel. See some scrap paper that is used for making notes on and you feel like a load of scrap. See a beautiful notebook and you feel beautiful.
Now I know that the world has changed forever, because one of my stationery storage customers has told me that he is a stationery tourist, travelling the world collecting stationery from anywhere they make it. Lisbon, Venice, Vienna, London. Wherever there is a city with some culture there will be new stationery.
It has been one of the more unexpected discoveries of my life within Admiral.
You can find more information on our facilities on our website at https://admiralstorage.co.uk/. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.
Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Tel: 0800 810 1125