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Members Suggest…

A few months ago I wrote about efforts being made to grow the hobby. I encouraged APS members to write to me with ideas, and I was pleased to receive a number of excellent letters and e-mails that addressed this issue.

Several letters contained suggestions that the Society should strongly censure the U.S. Postal Service for issuing self-adhesive stamps, stamps with frivolous subject matter such as cartoon characters, too many stamps or too few stamps. I had messages that said the U.S. Postal Service was issuing stamps that were childish and gimmicky, as well as letters that said we needed more stamps showing rock stars and video game characters to attract the younger generation.

It is undeniable that APS members are passionate about current stamps, but I could garner no consensus from the comments received. We have 43,000+ members and at least that many differing opinions! One recurring complaint about the U.S. Postal Service was the closing of philatelic sales windows and the difficulty in general of acquiring new issues at local post offices.

I, too, become frustrated with how hard it is these days to buy stamps at post offices. I like to use current commemoratives on every piece of mail I send, but I can't always get them. I use commemoratives even on mail to commercial establishments hoping that the stamp might catch the eye of someone who receives it and spark their interest. I suppose that might be a little far-fetched, but I am sure some collectors started collecting that way.

Besides, how will collectors of the future ever be able to collect used stamps and covers unless we start using and saving the ones we receive now? I'm always surprised at the number of stamp collectors who don't use commemoratives on their mail. It is such an easy way to promote philately.

Some members wrote to suggest that the APS advertise in the magazine published by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). The idea is a good one in theory, but when a weekly philatelic publication placed an ad there several years ago, the results were extremely disappointing. I believe the best way to attract AARP members to stamp collecting is to have a well written and attractively illustrated article published in the AARP magazine that expounds on the joys of collecting stamps, as well as the benefits of keeping one's mind active and inquisitive. Who wants to write this article?

I always get letters from members who suggest a service the APS already has. This is troubling to me and to our staff because we try very hard to publicize our member services and make them easily available to you.

For example:
"The APS should have instructional information for those who want to start a stamp club."
The APS has a 110-page "how to" book that has been in publication since 1996. It is entitled Building Better Stamp Clubs. The cost is $10 postpaid, available from APS, 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823.

The APS has many other services for stamp clubs. All clubs that apply for and receive chapter status receive the Chapter Activities Committee Newsletter three times a year. This is sent to the club member who is the APS Chapter representative appointed by the club. Back issues are available online at www.stamps.org/CAC/Inedex.htm. There is a host of other valuable information for clubs on this website.

"The APS should have a service to help members identify oddball stamps in their collections."
We do. It is called Quick I.D. The cost is $2 for the submission and $4 for each scanned item to be identified. Details are found on our website at www.stampstore.org/ser_quickid.asp.

"The library should have a card catalog that is available to researchers so we know what is available."
It does. You can access it online and do searches by title, author, or keyword at www.stamplibrary.org.
A recurring suggestion involves what I call "menu selection" memberships, where members could pick and choose from the multitude of APS services just those they wished, paying only for the right to use the services they want.

Apart from being an administrative nightmare, the economics just don't work. The costs of all the services are spread among all the members and not just a few. To do otherwise would mean we would have to offer far fewer services because they could not be supported, or that some services would be priced prohibitively high because fewer people used them.

All things considered, your membership buys you a lot of bang for your buck. In case you have forgotten, the benefits of APS membership include:
  • American Philatelist - our monthly full-color award-winning magazine
  • High ethical standards of membership espoused by our Code of Ethics.
  • Estate advisory service that provides advice to heirs who have inherited an APS members' collection
  • APEX - our expertizing service that certifies stamps and covers from all over the world.
  • Insurance for your stamp collection at competitive group rates.
  • Sales Division where you can buy stamps in the comfort of your own home and where you can make money by selling your duplicates.
  • Internet Sales Unit, which places your submitted stamps online and then handles every detail of the sale for you.
  • Translation service that will decipher letters and markings on covers.
  • Discounts on a wide variety of APS books, supplies, and novelties.
  • Full use of the American Philatelic Research Library
  • Our annual STAMPSHOW and APS Winter Show/ AmeriStamp Expo. And speaking of shows, don't forget the big International show, Washington 2006, May 27 - June 3 next year.
  • APS represents United States collectors on the international scene because APS is the US national federation.
  • Our Education Department provides online courses through the Virtual Campus, instructional courses for beginners at Stamp Saturday, a week-long Summer Seminar course of instruction at our headquarters, a variety of youth services including All Star Stamp Clubs, Young Stamp Collectors of America, beginner assistance and mentor services, and scouting merit badge assistance.
  • Services for clubs and specialist societies that include slide and video programs, mailing lists for membership solicitation, and the Chapter Activities Committee newsletter.
  • Instruction for exhibitors and maintenance of the accredited judging program.
  • The annual Stamp Cruise that offers members the opportunity to combine philately with their holiday travels.
Help the APS grow! Earn a $5 bounty for every new member you recruit to the APS. Membership applications and business reply cards (these are great used as enclosures for those who do business on eBay!) are available from the APS Administration Director at our headquarters in Bellefonte.

Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome. Contact me at P.O. Box 250, Pleasant Plain, OH 45162 or by e-mail: TongaJan@aol.com

Janet Klug
August, 2005

Published by permission. ©2005 Janet Klug

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