10 Reasons to Send a Letter Rather Than Email

Last time I checked, I was getting about 800 emails a week. That sounds like a lot, but it’s manageable. I never have more than a hundred in my inbox at any one time. My goal is to get to empty, every single day. Usually, I succeed.

Stamped Envelope

Conversely, I usually get about three traditional letters a week. You know what I am talking about, right? It looks similar to an email, but it’s printed on actual paper, neatly folded and inserted into an envelope, with a real, honest-to-goodness stamp on the outside.

Believe it or not, receiving three letters a week is more hassle than 800 emails. So why should anyone send me a letter? I can think of 10 reasons:

  1. You don’t need me to read your correspondence for a couple of weeks.
  2. You don’t need a response back in less than a month or a response is optional.
  3. You are looking for a simple way to add to my workload and yours.
  4. You have a longing for the 1980s.
  5. You have invested a lot of money in beautiful stationary and feel guilty for not using it.
  6. You are trying to develop a meaningful relationship with your postal carrier.
  7. You feel the need to subsidize an obsolete government agency.
  8. You like buying stamps—especially with pictures of dead presidents.
  9. You believe your letters are immortal and hope that someone will collect them for posterity.
  10. You are Amish.

If none of these apply to you, then please—puh-leaze—send me an email and be done with it. You will get a faster response—usually the same day.

Update: As several readers have pointed out, in some situations, there’s no substitute for a handwritten note. I agree. Thank-you notes, condolences, congratulations, etc., are still a more personal, meaningful way to communicate. Even I agree with that and practice it.

I was really speaking to more traditional business or transactional correspondence where the sender expects the recipient to take some action based on that correspondence. The bottom line: If you expect me to reply or forward your correspondence onto someone else, then email is still your best option.

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