WASHINGTON -- Hoping to boost sagging revenue, the U.S. Postal Service on Monday abandoned its long-standing rule that stamps cannot feature people who are still alive and is asking the public for suggestions.
It's a first that means living sports stars, writers, artists and other prominent -- or not-so-prominent -- people could take their places in postal history next to the likes of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. and Marilyn Monroe.
"This change will enable us to pay tribute to individuals for their achievements while they are still alive to enjoy the honor," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said.
But it seems to be at least as much about money as admiration.
For years, the post office has been facing severe financial problems due to the growing use of email. A burst of interest in stamp design and collecting -- which the Postal Service is seeking to promote partly through social media -- could bring in new dollars, since stamps that are collected rather than used for postage provide added revenue.
The post office is inviting suggestions for new stamps through Facebook, Twitter, a Postal Service website and by mail to the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee, c/o Stamp Development, Room 3300, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC 20260-3501.
Stamps can be viewed on Facebook at facebook.com/USPSStamps, through Twitter@USPSstamps or on the website beyondtheperf.com/2012-preview.
Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service's online site for upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.