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by Lloyd A. de Vries

Vol. 42 - Kindling Philatelic Interest

After reading a discussion online about how the latest Scott catalogue CD-ROMs won't let the user print from them, and various reviews of Amazon.com's new Kindle reader, I went to the bookseller's site to see whether it had the catalogues, or any stamp catalogues, available for its electronic reader.


There are only two really philatelic titles available. One is a public domain book, "Stamp Collecting As A Pastime," whose author, Edward James, died in 1909. Amazon.com does note that you may be able to find the book on the Internet for free.

There's also a book titled Stamp Collecting As A Pastime For Beginners, Advanced Collectors And Investors. No author is given, and no other edition of the book is listed on Amazon.com, so I can't tell you much about it or whether the information in it is valid.

The other titles are about rubber-stamp collecting, the Stamp Act, or by people named Stamp or Stamps.

Too bad. It's an opportunity missed.

The Kindle reader is about the right size to take to stamp shows (instead of print-outs or photocopies of the Scott catalogues), and smaller, lighter and easier to operate as a reader than a laptop computer.

You buy the device from Amazon for $399, and then individual titles for as little as 99 cents (the price of the James book). The texts are transmitted over a free wireless cell phone network to your Kindle. (Since you place the order on the Internet, I figured it's fair game for this column.)

I don't see the Scott catalogues coming to Kindle or any other "e-reader" in the near future. Quite a few years ago, a Scott executive told me he envisioned the company selling.pdf files of the listings for individual countries online, rather than forcing collectors to buy entire volumes. It hasn't happened.

The first stamp catalogue on Kindle? My money is on Michel, which already offers some of its catalogues as online databases.

"In space, no one can hear you scream" was the tag line for the movie "Alien."

No one can hear you scream in cyberspace either. So when I get some really stupid spam, I talk back to it as I delete all six copies of it:

"We can cure any desease." Except chronic misspelling.

"CONGRATULATIONS. YOU HAVE WON $100,000" and can now hire someone to read this nonsense for you. (By the way, if you're dispensing that much money, can you afford lowercase letters?)

"We can make debt disappear" along with most of your credit rating.

"Turn your computer into a TV" which is all it will be good for after installing our device.

"Download and forget" ever using your computer again.

"Never clean a toilet bowl again." You probably won't be able to. The product isn't called "Kaboom" for nothing.

"Hello, I am a nice girl." Oh? Then why are you looking for sex in a mass e-mail? And why do all these messages come from senders with male names?

But "in cyberspace, no one can hear you scream" is a good maxim for participating in message boards and sending e-mail, too. Before you send that "nastygram" that will scorch the person who offended you (no matter how deserving), take a deep breath, let out a scream, pound the desk (not the keyboard or mouse!) — and then hit the CANCEL button.

Recently, on my own message board, in response to an explanation I'd given about cachets on first day covers (my collecting specialty), someone declared, "The enticement then, for what seems to be the preponderance of FDC collectors, is a poor piece of artwork rather than the philatelist's attraction to postal history and the particular 'specialness' of stamps sent on the very day of their issue."

My reply was, "You're certainly entitled to your opinion, however denigrating to another group of collectors."

Trust me when I tell you that that was not the first response I wrote! My keyboard melted. The monitor hid, quivering, behind the CPU.

Then I erased the text and wrote, "You're certainly entitled to your opinion, no matter how stupid." Oops, let's edit that, too.

I don't mean to imply that I am a paragon of online virtue and discretion. I've posted my share of zingers and barbs, and engaged in too many "flame wars." However, this time discretion won.

Stamp Collecting & Kindle: What philatelic titles do you think should be available on Kindle? Who should take the lead in getting more stamp collecting books on Kindle? Discuss the subject in our message board here.

Snappy Comebacks To Stupid Spam: What are some of your favorite come-back lines to stupid spam? Share them with us here in the message board.

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