I think that many folks confuse the decline in stamp organization memberships with a decline in the overall hobby. My opinion is that the hobby itself is in good health and is not suffering.
One of the few ‘health' metrics that anyone has to consider is memberships levels, subscription numbers (i.e Linn's or local club newsletters), or show attendance. Without question organization membership levels, hobby publication subscription rates, attendance at local clubs/shows, and the number of brick and mortar stamp stores have been declining. But the truth is that these are not good metric for understanding the overall health of the entire hobby.
Traditionally hobbyists used memberships and subscriptions to gain access to philatelic information. And for decades the typical methods for buying stamps and supplies was done at either the local dealer store, show, or approvals.
Of course, this all changed around 2000 when the internet became widespread. Suddenly philatelic information became easy to find in real-time and without cost. Existing organizations who previously used access to philatelic information as a justification for the cost of dues were now directly competing with the internet. Online selling exploded in popularity and folks could now buy from thousands of dealers across the world.
So the hobby has forever been drastically changed; and the biggest casualties is that the legacy methods for measuring the hobby's health are no long valid. Today, any method for understanding the hobby's popularity would have to encompass online hobbyists. There is a huge population of online hobbyists who do not belong to clubs or organizations; perhaps numbering into the millions. This ‘forgotten' group of hobbyists are very active, spending money, and enjoying the hobby as never before.
If anyone has any quantified metrics that includes online hobbyists I would love to see them; but until that happens the opinions that the hobby is declining is speculation. Don APS #094826
Jack, Sure enough. But perhaps the younger hobbyists are mostly online? I guess I was trying to say that until someone comes up with a good way to include online hobbyists, we are missing a significant percentage of hobbyists and that using the tradition ways to measure the health of the hobby are not longer very applicable. Don
"I dunno Don. When I go to shows, etc, all I see are old people like myself. Not exactly a metric, but certainly an indicator."
I had to laugh to myself when I went to a local stamp fair, and the organisers had laid on a couple of nurses and paramedics to wander around the area!
But in terms of age, wasn't the same true 30 years ago? or 50 years? I don't know but were stamp clubs in the 60s frequented by 30-year-olds? I doubt it. My hunch is that it's something people embrace later in life. And when work is done, and retirement looms, out come the dusty old stamp albums and enthusiasm is rediscovered. I don't see why that cycle should stop.
I don't know how many kids take up the hobby these days, but when I look at modern GB stamp issues - children's TV, Dr Who, record sleeves, Harry Potter, Star Wars etc etc - I can see that there's something going on with younger people. I know my six-year-old collects too. Why think it's drying up?