Jan. 11, 2012 at 8:46 AM ET
No matter how high-tech you are, there’s still something special and sweetly old-fashioned about getting a “Wish you were here” paper postcard from a friend or family member who took the time to buy a stamp, scrawl a message and locate both your street address and a mailbox.
For a while, it seemed digital cameras and camera-equipped mobile devices would making carrier-delivered postcards obsolete. But now there are apps and websites that make it easy — and fun — to turn digital images into high-quality, personalized, and in some cases, scented postcards that arrive in the mail.
Here are few options:
Cartolina is predominantly a paper greeting card company with an app that allows users to send text and e-mail messages with vintage imagery, but last month Cartolina Postale released an app that allows users to mail postcards that mix the company’s signature designs with their own pictures.
“It’s already become quite popular,” said Cartolina founder and creative director Fiona Richards. “You can put in a partial e-mail and the app will pull the mailing address from your contact list. You can also put an address list from your desktop onto our service provider’s website and the app can draw from there.”
Cost: The iPhone app is free. Printing and mailing: $1.99 to addresses in U.S., $2.99 elsewhere.
Launched in April 2011 by Sincerely, Inc., Postagram allows users to turn a digital photo into a mailed postcard with a pop-out picture.
“A printed photo sent in the mail is the simplest, least expensive and most ubiquitous and appreciated gift on the planet,” said Sincerely, Inc. CEO and co-founder Matt Brezina, who came up with the idea for Postagram while snapping photos with his iPhone along a highway in Maui. “I can’t think of anything else people would like to get from a friend and there’s nothing you can send across the world for this cheap a price.”
Over the holidays, Sincerely, Inc. introduced an app called Dotti. Users take a "roll" of 12 pictures on a mobile device, e-mail the roll in and in a few days receive a packet of high-quality prints in the mail. “You can review them before you send them for processing,” said Brezina. “And even though I’m a high-tech guy, I feel that in the future, there’s a better chance someone will look at the photos I have in a shoebox than those I have posted on Facebox, which may not be around.”
Cost: The iPhone and Android apps are free. Mailing a postcard anywhere is 99 cents.
Dotti: The app is free; $4.99 to develop and mail a ‘roll’ of 12 pictures.
Postcard on the Run
“No matter how old you are, everyone loves getting mail,” said Josh Brooks, CEO of Postcard on the Run. “As long as it’s not a bill or junk mail.”
Brooks, who calls his digital photo-to-mailed postcard app a “utility convenience,” notes that there was a time when printing photos taken on vacation was just what you did. “Now you just email them or add them to Facebook or Twitter, and the memory from that fades in seconds.”
In addition to features that include the ability to add a signature to a card with your finger and a patent-pending service called Postal Gopher that tracks down a recipient’s street address by e-mailing them an alert message, in November Postcard on the Run began offering a unique option: Smell Mail.
Users can add a scratch ‘n smell coating in one of 11 different scents, including baby powder, chocolate, popcorn, bubble gum and holiday spice. There’s also Brooks’ favorite: Teen Spirit, which he said “smells like a mix of band sweat and skunk.”
Cost: The app is free. Mailing a postcard costs $0.99 to $1.69, depending on the number of postcards mailed. Smell Mail is an additional $0.50.
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