by Lloyd A. de Vries
Vol. 6 - Stamps vs. The Internet
My, how times have changed. Four years ago, as the Microsoft Network canceled the contract for its collectibles forum and turned me down for a philatelic forum, I was told, "There's no interest in stamps on the Internet."
In fact, it can be argued that the Internet may be the salvation of stamp collecting.
"Huh? E-mail is going to kill snail mail!"
Two major philatelic organizations, the APS and the American First Day Cover Society, both say their major source of new members is the Internet. Run through a dealer directory, in print or on the Web, and count the number of e-mail addresses and Universal Resource Locators (URLs or web addresses) you see.
I know that I personally have met many collectors on the Internet who don't belong to stamp societies or clubs and don't subscribe to stamp newspapers, but consider themselves collectors.
The Directors of the American Philatelic Society have held discussions via e-mail. (I am Secretary.) All of us have e-mail, and use it. I think a "chat" (real-time conversation using typing) for the Directors of a major philatelic organization is just around the corner. I know I've used Instant Messenger to discuss APS issues with a fellow director and concerned members.
And during major shows, we at the Computers in Philately booths get a number of people who just have to check a lot or bid on a lot on eBay.
Stamp collecting is now more global than ever: A would-be student in Brussels heard about the APS Internet courses much more quickly via the Internet than he would have in the print media or via regular mail, and was able to ask a question and get an answer much more cheaply than telephoning across the Atlantic. I have sold and shipped U.S. first day covers to collectors in the Netherlands, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and Germany.