Ikea’s beloved print catalog is no more

After 70 years of print and billions of copies circulated worldwide, the catalog will now only live online.

Ikea has announced the official discontinuation of its print catalog after 70 years of publication, as more people than ever flock to the company’s website to browse and buy products. A retrospective book will be published during the fall of 2021 to commemorate the catalog’s impressively long history.

“Turning the page with our beloved catalogue is emotional but rational,” Konrad Grüss, Managing Director, Inter IKEA Systems B.V., said in a release. “Media consumption and customer behaviors have changed, and IKEA is already increasing digital investments while volumes and interest in the catalogue have decreased.”

More surprising than the print magazine’s demise is, perhaps, how long Ikea has held out on making this move. A large number of print publications have moved their operations to online-only or mostly online in recent years; it seems the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out any remaining loyalty to the medium.

The Ikea catalog will undoubtedly be missed by the company’s avid fans. Overall, though, its downfall is a good sign for the company’s ability to adapt to an increasingly digital future.

Goodbye, friend — Ikea’s decision definitely seems like the right move here, but we’ll still mourn the loss of the company’s print catalog, which has been a steadfast retail friend for longer than baby boomers have been alive. As Ikea highlights in today’s announcement, Ingvar Kamprad, the company’s founder, put the first catalog together himself in 1951.

The catalog didn’t actually hit its peak until 55 years later, though — in 2016, it was distributed in 69 different versions spanning 32 languages, with more than 200 million copies in print. That peak came a full 15 years after Ikea began offering its catalog online.

Adapt and grow — Though the tenets of what makes Ikea successful have largely remained constant through its history — inexpensive home furniture that can be assembled by the consumer — the company has also proven infinitely adaptable for modern times. Products like pocket-sized Bluetooth speakers and Lego-collab storage sets have allowed Ikea’s range of products to wield their full potential.

The latest iteration of the Ikea we know and love exists in our web browsers. Last year the company saw online sales increase by 45 percent worldwide — and received more than four billion visits. Given that Ikea’s massive stores all around the world have had to spend a fair amount of the year with their doors closed, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if these numbers skyrocketed even more in 2020.

And while we wait for the retrospective book to be published, there’s plenty of catalog nostalgia to be explored at the online Ikea Museum.