Sorting through my mail at home last week, I came across a thick, beautifully printed magazine promoting this season’s hottest toys.

It was a throwback to mail catalogs of yesteryear.

I wondered who would publish such a nostalgic piece – it wasn’t immediately obvious. Flip it over to the back, and there was Amazon smiling at me.

I smiled back at the irony. One of the world’s largest tech giants, the disruptor of the retail industry, is now publishing an old-school mail catalog in print.

Amazon just proved what we at El Paso Inc. believe to be true: There is great value in printed publications.

This is Amazon’s second annual toy catalog, and I’m betting we wouldn’t be seeing it if the first one wasn’t a success.

Amazon has set the standard for streamlined process, target marketing and data-driven results. Everything they do is calculated.

At least three of us at the office got a catalog, although none of us got it last year. There’s probably a reason for that. I’m guessing they did a limited run to test it out last year and have the justification to increase distribution this year.

Open it up, and page two says: “Once you turn this page, you’ll enter a world where holiday dreams are made. So stack the cookies high, keep the cocoa toasty and cozy up together because you’ll definitely want to check this book twice.”

Who can resist that? You bet I sat down to check it out. The book is well done. It’s fun to look through even if you don’t have little ones, plus they made it interactive for kids. Inserted next to page 2 is a perforated card to make a wish list and stickers to earmark favorite items. The very last pages are titled “Get crafty with cardboard.” It includes a How To tutorial for creating stuff out of the Amazon boxes, which proves the second thing I believe to be true: No toy is better than a cardboard box. Pets agree – the bigger, the better.

My kids have outgrown toys (never boxes), but I have younger nephews and even a grand nephew. I’m sure Amazon knows that. They probably knew about those kids before I did. They also know that it is incredibly overwhelming to pick out Christmas gifts for them. I get online and don’t know where to start.

The catalog does that for me and was wonderful validation that sometimes, the printed piece is just a better experience.

It’s the same with El Paso Inc. While digital access is handy and the archives are a goldmine of El Paso information, there’s nothing quite like sitting down with the printed paper to digest the week’s news. Someone’s already cut through the clutter, you’re not bombarded with distractions and you never run out of battery.

As a staff writer in The Atlantic wrote about reading the printed newspaper, “some joys can’t be digitized.”

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