RIP: After 70 Years, IKEA Is Discontinuing Its Print Catalog

The 2009 and 2011 issues of the IKEA catalog.
The 2009 and 2011 issues of the IKEA catalog. / Azat Akhyarov, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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This year, IKEA is discontinuing one of its classic products: the print catalog.

As The Verge explains, the move reflects IKEA’s gradual pivot from traditional brick-and-mortar chain to innovative online retailer. While we won’t have a physical catalog to thumb through for the first time in 70 years, it’s not the first time IKEA is digitizing the booklet—it’s been available online since 2000.

“We are not starting from scratch. We have been transforming many aspects of how to reach and interact with our customers, and the work continues to find new ways to amplify unique IKEA home furnishing knowledge, products, and solutions in the best possible way—to inspire the many people through new ways, channels and formats,” Konrad Grüss, managing director of Inter IKEA Systems B.V., said in a press release.

Though this change makes sense in an increasingly digital marketplace—not to mention the importance of pushing an online presence during the coronavirus pandemic—longtime IKEA shoppers are already lamenting the loss of the catalog. Beneath the announcement on IKEA’s Facebook page, many people have expressed disappointment and mentioned how much they prefer the catalog to the website.

The subscriber base may be slowly dwindling, but those comments are evidence that plenty of people still look forward to receiving the catalog in the mail. When IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad created the first catalog in 1951, he printed and sent 285,000 copies to prospective customers around southern Sweden. As recently as 2016, the catalog reached its peak: a staggering 200 million copies in 32 languages.

To soften the blow, IKEA is releasing a commemorative book “filled with great home furnishing inspiration and knowledge” in fall 2021—no doubt the perfect volume to rest on top of your IKEA coffee table.

[h/t The Verge]