People Still Love Paper Maps

Smartphones have become the go-to for getting from here to there, but there are people who still love their paper maps.

Especially the Houston – Harris County Key Map Atlas book. Or whichever county you live in: there's a book for each. Why on earth would someone want a paper map?

“A lot of times they’re looking for the big picture. The screen is too small. A lot of times they don’t want to use up the battery life,” says Steve Hubbs, the owner of Key Maps, the Houston map store at 1212 Durham Drive in Houston and maker of those very handy map books.

Two big reasons people still like an old-fashioned paper map is privacy – no one can track your GPS on a paper map – and fear of running out of a charge on a phone and getting lost.

Especially for a generation that is literally lost without their Google maps. Hubbs suggests parents get one for new drivers. “It doesn’t take batteries. It won’t die. It will be there when you need it. We tell parents of young drivers, throw one in their trunk and when their phone is dead they can pull it out. Or shove it between your seat and it will be there for you,” he says. Not a bad idea if your 16 year old has no appreciation for directions or landmarks.

Most popular, he says, is zip code maps, a very useful tool for all sorts of businesses. And they have a wide variety of hanging maps, atlases, globes.

The paper map business, according to NPD Bookscan, is growing at around 7-10% a year. Yes, it’s a growth industry, in 2020. Now if only we could remember how to fold a map!

Houston map

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