Blown To Bits

Getting Your Postal Mail by Email

Thursday, September 4th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Fewer and fewer people pay their bills by writing checks and putting them in the mail; the payments go electronically. The bills themselves arrive electronically if you want; that’s certainly the way your utility and credit card companies would prefer, given the price of postage. Your daughter in Omaha certainly doesn’t send you a postal letter, unless you are both quite mature; she sends you email, or texts you.

But postal mail still arrives. From your plumber, probably. Your real estate tax bill hasn’t gone electronic either. Official legal and business communications aren’t trusted to email, for very good reasons. Unless email is encrypted, it’s not secure, and it’s spoof-able.

Of course, paper mail demands postage and the slaughter of trees. But another problem, more serious sometimes, is that you may not be there to receive it. You could be at your summer place, or on a long business trip, or even on an extended stay in a hospital. And that creates a business opportunity.

As David Pogue reports in a terrific column in today’s New York Times, there are now services to turn your incoming postal mail into bits and deliver the bits to you electronically (not by insecure email, but through log-in to a secure web site). Bingo. One of the services,¬†, scans just the envelope first and asks you whether you want them to open the envelope and scan the contents. You can have the physical mail forwarded to you, recycled, or shredded.

Of course, you have to give your correspondents your earthclassmail address, which can be a P.O. box, or a nice office address in New York or San Francisco. (That costs a little more money, but not nearly as much as a nice office would cost in New York or San Fran.)

These services (the competing service is¬† fill a special niche. Depending on the price, I might consider using one of them myself, so I don’t miss anything important while I’m away on vacation. But the niche seems to be a momentary fracture caused by the digital explosion — in five years, I’d guess, business and even personal correspondence practices will have evolved in some way that will make these services irrelevant. Right now we’re at a sort of wrinkle in time, where the physical world has not fully evolved into its parallel bits universe.

2 Responses to “Getting Your Postal Mail by Email”

  1. Sandy Talem Says:

    Interesting read. Can you give more details on this?

  2. Büyü Says:

    Interesting read. Can you give more details on this?