– Hello Mr. Miller and thank you for agreeing the idea to be part of my Q&A project! With its 131 years, ’The American Philatelist’ is the oldest continuously published philatelic magazine in the world. How is to be the editor of such a piece of philatelic history?
– Cătălin, first let me thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your project! My position has often been referred to as a philatelist’s dream job. I have the opportunity to work with some of the most knowledgeable researchers and writers in the field. I am honored to be part of such a rich legacy and I take my role very seriously. ‘The American Philatelist’ plays a very important role in stamp collecting and I am striving to bring new things to our readers while maintaining a high level of scholarship in the journal. The job is a tremendous challenge, but also a great responsibility.
– For daily news about your philatelic activity you use the social media channels, but how do your team choose the subjects for each edition of AP?
– At the end of a year, I sit down with a blank calendar, a list of significant historical events, information on upcoming global activities and a preview of important philatelic events. I review all of this information to develop an editorial calendar with basic themes for each month. It is not uncommon for these themes to be rearranged and rescheduled, but I try to create a working calendar of subjects. I then sit down with the editorial staff, other staff at the American Philatelic Society and experienced members to determine more precise details and to discuss potential authors.
I also receive 2-3 manuscripts each week that I review and consider for publication. We are working on expanding our online content, so several of these new works are being directed to our bog and other outlets. I encourage all of our members to submit materials for consideration. It is a good exercise that helps all of us expand our knowledge and skills.
– So the articles are written by your members! What are the main criteria that a member must accomplish in order to be welcomed to write for AP magazine?
– Every member is encouraged to write and submit their work. However, competition to actually be published is very high. I am looking for reliable research around which a writer can create a compelling philatelic story. With a subject as broad as philately, the materials and the story lines are very broad. So far this year, we have had a first time author worthy of a cover story, we’ve seen postal history articles that relate the story of a World War I soldier and articles that related the history of the British Empire to popular collecting areas.
As I mentioned, I hope all of our members will eventually write something for submission. Even materials that do not get published in ‘The American Philatelist’ are valuable to the hobby!
– Like I said, we live nowadays in a digital era. I saw that you offer even an AP bonus content on your website. What do today’s readers preffer – paper or e-paper edition of the AP?
– Today’s readers have mixed expectations. There are publishes who try to relate it to the age of the reader, but the fact of the matter is that readers will accept virtually any medium as long as you offer valuable content. I do think there are aspects of philately that make the printed word more important to readers. However, we have a growing distribution in electronic format.
We are also working on new ways to provide digital content and to make the content richer for our readers. Combining the printed version with the blog, website and social media gives us more ways to reach our members and potential members.
– Being the editor of this magazine, I’m sure that you have faced many challenges while conducting the stuff. Could you tell me one of them?
– The job itself is a big challenge. My expertise is in communications, so I have to work a little harder on the philately. I’ve been a collector since childhood but, I have collected for the enjoyment of the hobby, not necessary to be an expert in any small area.
Shortly after taking the position, I printed a statement about a particular series of stamps. While the statement was accurate regarding the two stamps I pictured, it was not true for the entire series of those stamps. When I heard from the preeminent expert on that series, I had some explaining to do.
– Who do you most admire in stamp collecting past or present, and why?
– It may sound trite, but I am a fan of the late postmaster general James A. Farley. He served during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt and was a rather colorful character. He led the US Post Office Department through some rather difficult times and created a lot of interesting materials for stamp collectors (then and now) to pursue.
– I’m sure that you collect stamps as well! Please tell me what’s the decisive factor when you purchase a new stamp for your personal collection?
– Historically, I have been as much a hoarder of stamps as anything. Over the past few years however, I have worked to narrow my focus to the things that really have meaning to me. I collect the original National Parks series of 1935, the original West Point issue of 1937 and postal history involving the battleship USS North Carolina.
However, the decisive factor for me is whatever strikes my interest at the time. I am an avid student of history and art so, when those interests collide on a new stamp, I’m likely to make a purchase.
– Have you noticed some new trends in stamp collecting nowadays? Do you think it is a good idea to popularize this hobby among young generation?
– The trends are constantly evolving and that creates challenges for all collectors. Traditional collectors have their expectations and sometimes dismiss the new trends. Newer collectors are often more interested in the experience that the stamp supports, so traditional collecting is an unusual concept for them.
I think it is a very good idea to promote stamp collecting to all ages. Stamps teach so much about history, culture, art and language. Today we find people collecting stamps in new and different ways: through postcrossing; stamp swapping via social media, and; in the work of mail artists. The key is to encourage collecting in ways that the collector can find a love for stamps. There are no ‘rules’ for collecting, only a hobby that can bring great enjoyment and learning about the world around us.
– Many thanks for this interview! Please address a short message to my readers.
– Cătălin, I want to thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts and, especially, for your efforts to promote the hobby. It takes all of our voices to share what we love in a culture that has so many distractions. I encourage your readers to collect what they love in stamps, and then to give voice to their collections by sharing them everywhere they can. Naturally, I hope they will learn more about the American Philatelic Society (stamps.org) as we work to grow the hobby worldwide.
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