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Not Quite Obsolete
May 08, 2012

What is the impact of a hard-copy letter sent through the U.S. Postal Service these days?

It definitely isn’t what it once was. That’s why the post office is losing so much money.

I still get numerous letters to the editor through snail mail, though the number has fallen to less than a quarter of all letters submitted. The number can shoot higher when there is a hot topic being considered by readers of Numismatic News.

Email is clearly now the preferred method of communication. The end of hard-copy letters is looming.

However, the end is not here yet. I still will take the time to read hard-copy letters and to input them into the Letters page of the paper.

The time has not yet come with letters to the editor, as is the case with questions sent to the Coin Clinic question and answer column, to require all submissions be electronic.

Letter writers’ views are important and I consider the extra effort required to publish these letters worth it. After all, one-quarter of the typical 2.5 pages of letters that appear each week in Numismatic News is more than half a page, 0.625 pages if you make the quick calculations.

At some point, of course, the number of hard copy letters will cease to be significant and the points made by the writers will have been made more quickly by writers of emails.

When that day comes, I will think about my first few weeks at Numismatic News when letters to the editor were assigned to the new guy on staff. One of the skills I acquired in those long ago days was an ability to decipher handwriting. To even mention it these days is to classify myself with the horse and buggy, isn’t it?

So let’s just keep this between you and me.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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