Since today (August 6) is the last day to sign Chris Barkley’s petition asking the White House to issue a set of SF author postage stamps, I thought I’d see how it is doing.
It’s doing horribly.
Chris Barkley hoped to get 100,000 signatures in a month. At this hour the White House petition has only 295 signatures.
A counterpart petition at Change.org has done even worse, collecting only 201 signatures.
That’s a pathetic turnout considering the overwhelmingly positive attention the idea garnered everywhere, from Facebook to fan sites and the SFWA Blog.
Barkley’s petition is not even doing as well as the petition to place a Pennsylvania state historical marker on Asimov’s WWII apartment building. That one has received almost 4,000 signatures.
I signed both stamp petitions, for whatever that may be worth.
My paternal grandfather collected stamps, my father inherited them and built upon them, and I had a separate collection as a boy. I’m sorry now that I never kept it up.
The general public has no idea who Heinlein is. To them, Starship Troopers was a bad movie that came out years ago. Books they don’t read. Stamp campaigns require people with commitment and motivation who can schedule meetings with important politicians.
Online petitions are lost in the cacophony of the Internet.
Well, it is a dismal failure.
If this effort had gotten some coverage from National Public Radio, the New York Times, Locus Online or USA Today (who were among the many recipients of press releases I sent out) had given it a mention or a full fledged story, there might have been a chance that these petitions could have gotten several thousand signatures.
Is it possible people don’t care about commemorative stamps? Or about influential genre writers from the past three generations? Or their place in our collective cultural history? Or is there just too much going on for everyone to take notice? Probably a combination of all the above, I suspect.
I hope either the postal authorities in have taken note of these petitions or that one day someone else will have better luck than I had.
Certainly would have helped, but thousands of fans saw it anyway. That’s why I’m surprised.
One other note…I had planned to start a Facebook page about this last month but I had just moved and between unpacking and work, I had no time to establish it.
I will get a page up and running within the next week or so just to keep the idea circulating in some public space. We should remember and honor our elders…
The reason I didn’t bother signing it: I thought that a petition to revive the original proposal for six stamps might have had a chance of being taken seriously, but combining it with a demand to add a large number of other authors doomed it to failure, no matter how many signatures the petition might have gotten.
What Morris wrote. I doubt the Postal Service has ever come close to issuing a 60 series theme stamp set, and certainly not for something as relatively esoteric as SF/Fantasy authors. Also, change.org really has no impact on anything. If a huge number of people signed, it might get press coverage and possibly get a response. But the petition itself is essentially a no-op.
One: most people don’t read novels. Two: they will read comic strips, which is why the USPS has done well there. three: Yes, people will ask, “Isaac Who?” more often than not.
The use of stamps is in decline. I don’t know if the number of collectors has fallen with the use of computers and e mail.
If the USPS does six, it’s a win. The USPS is part of the government. Don’t expect too much.
…and the number of unsold extra surplus Simpson stamps was 682 million as of 12 August 2012 Needless to point out that these will not be trashed, but held onto and pushed out as other stamps decline.
Maybe it’s for the best. They might have included L. Ron Hubbard among the six chosen. After all … what does a government committee know about the politics, personalities and history of the science fiction genre? All someone has to do is have a vague idea that Gene Roddenberry was a major SF writer (and he did write a handful of Star Trek scripts), and voila — he’s on a stamp, pushing aside Philip K. Dick or Theodore Sturgeon.
The Church of Scientology championed for a stamp shortly after Hubbard’s death, and were axed down. Adortation politics and cult figures really don’t have much sway in stamp profiles in the USA.
In the UK, there was a stamp for “Carry on Screaming”.