Outbox turns snail mail into digital mail

OutboxI travel quite frequently and this month was no exception. I spent most of the first two weeks of February on the road. Under normal circumstances, this would mean coming home to a small pile of mail. During the Month of Letters it meant coming home to a mountain. I only realized this would be the case around the middle of December as my travel plans solidified. This is in no way a complaint, though, because coming home to a mountain of letters did fill me with a certain joy.

Dealing with mail while on long trips can be an issue, especially when you don’t have a housemate or family member at home to open things and take care of urgent business.Yesterday, I read about a service called Outbox. They recently expanded from serving Austin, TX to San Francisco, CA. Outbox turns your paper mail into digital mail by gathering your letters, scanning them, then uploading the files to a digital mail box that you can access via a browser or an iPad app.

Outbox will come collect your mail every three days and holds on to the paper for up to 60 days. Customers may request re-delivery of their paper mail if they want to keep it. Outbox also sorts mail by type — bills, junk, flyers, personal correspondence. Just as with email, you can flag a letter as Junk and the Outbox team will stop scanning mail from that source and just toss it.

Some of you may be recoiling in horror at the idea of taking paper mail and making it digital. After all, we send handwritten letters this month instead of email or Tweets or status updates for a reason. And though the Outbox website says that they screen their employees better than the Postal Service does, I’m sure plenty of people would be uncomfortable with a stranger looking at their mail. Especially personal letters.

I can see this being a great service for people who are often away from home. Putting a hold on mail is useful, but only if you’re sure you don’t need to see any of it before you get back home. With Outbox you can keep up with bills or letters and still get the physical copies when you’re back. Plus, you can sort and search our snail mail almost as easily as your email.

Still, strangers looking at my mail…

Does Outbox‘s service tempt you even a little?

22 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?”

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

  2. I love your post. And I totally agree.

    Email, tweets n twitters, FB comments all have their place and moment in time where they are the appropriate way to respond.

    However, sending a letter, postcard, or notecard is the only way to connect with someone on a more personal, even intimate, level.

    The act of sending a missive does take time, but more importantly it takes thought. What paper will I use? What will I add (stickers, washi, etc.)? What will I say? Combined these choices will be a bright spot in someone’s day. Added bonus? It was created specifically for them.

  3. Great article on postcard apps but you should also take a look at Postsnap’s easy to use postcard app.
    The app offers a number of unique features compared to the other apps reviewed including:
    – Guest checkout with Apple Pay
    – Extensive personalization options including collage layouts, stylish borders which can be adjusted in size with a slider and the option to add editable text in a variety of font types and colors and position it anywhere on the cards
    – iPhone and iPad support
    – Apple Pencil support
    – Facebook and Instagram integration
    – US postal address verification and UK postcode lookup
    Cards are printed and posted in our facilities in the UK, USA and Australia on the same or next working day and so cards typically arrive quickly. Enjoy!
    Stephen Homer

  4. I have been writing letters for several years now. My go to paper is Rhodia Premium or Rhodia Ice pads. I also Life pads too. I like them because they are not quite as slick as the Rhodia.

  5. I too love journals to pull apart for writing. For me the most important aspect of the paper is the pattern. I love to have some colour and some design on the paper. I’ve managed to find a number of nice colours and designs at one of my local “Home Sense” discount stores in the book section. Most of the small journals are a perfect size to fit in the envelopes I use. If not I just give one edge a bit of a trim (but sometimes I really like the ripped edge look too!) ;P

  6. Hi, Christmas cards & more recently a letter (a bill) from the UK to Australia have taken 3 weeks to arrive. The exterior of these envelopes were stamped with a mark such as this from the latest envelope:
    DLC 992-4
    The example quoted arrived at the Australian address on 28/07/2017, unfortunately it contained a bill dated 06/07/2017 which had to be paid within 14 days, by 20/07/2017.
    Why is the post so slow? What does the DLC 992-4 stamp signify? Would appreciate your feedback.

  7. My letter that I wrote was in September. The person who it was for still hasn’t gotten it and it’s now November….
    I don’t understand why it’s taking this long. I live in AZ and he lives in NY. I want answers.

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