The United States Postal Service announced Monday that it was tossing out its rule that its stamps honor only dead individuals and will be opening up this postage-stamp-size billboard space to the living, as well.
Eager — some might say desperate — to engage the public as postal revenues decline, the service has asked citizens to jump on Facebook and Twitter and submit the names of five living people they would like to commemorate.
Postal officials said they hoped the move would create some excitement and even prompt some young people to engage with snail mail, at least for special occasions.
“Having really nice, relevant, interesting, fun stamps might make a difference in people’s decisions to mail a letter,” said Stephen Kearney, the Postal Service’s manager of stamp services. “This is such a sea change.”
When the news broke Monday on the Web sites of various news organizations, including The New York Times, readers began promoting their favorite candidates. Popular nominees included Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Bob Dylan. CBS News gave readers a choice, listing options like Neil Armstrong (very popular) and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook (not so much).
Sources say that the post office has been facing severe financial problems and increasing in interest in stamp collecting could help boost income, since stamps that are collected rather than used for postage provide an added source of income.