Follow me on this for a moment.

If your bank is like mine, you now have to pay a small monthly fee if you want a paper statement. If you get your statements over the computer, they are free.

In Pennsylvania, they use the EZ-Pass system for toll roads. There is a small electronic device mounted to your windshield, just behind the rear view mirror. As you go through the toll booth, it captures your device number and the toll is charged to your credit card on file. People using EZ-Pass pay about 25% less for tolls than people who pay cash.

You can think of more cases where a person pays a higher price because they are using cash or doing something that requires more manual work. I think I will live to see when the USPS routinely charges more for the use of adhesive postage stamps. Youíre seeing signs of it now.

For people who sell on eBay, you have the ability to pay for postage online. You print out a form that has your address, the person itís going to and a barcode for the postage amount. The form also has bar coded information to aid in sorting and routing the mail. If you pay online, there is a small savings in postage. Because you have the label with the bar code already on it, the USPS has less work to do to process the package. So you save a few pennies in postage.

I think the USPS will someday require all mail to be bar coded before it is mailed. That isnít true today. But I donít think itís that far away.

For example, if you want to use adhesive stamps which will require your letter to be sorted, then you will pay, say, 50Ę for a first class letter. However, if you go online, you can put in your address and the address of the person the letter is going to. And for, say, 45Ę, youíll print out a form that is attached to the envelope.

Mail that has stamps on it will be slower to process. It will go to a sorting facility where it is first bar coded. However, envelopes with a printed label including the bar code will likely be delivered much sooner because there is less processing involved.

So the USPS will shift some of the work to the person mailing the letter. If you want to save 5Ę and have your letter delivered faster, you must go online and print out the postage. Otherwise, you can pay more for adhesive stamps and maybe have your mail delivered a little slower.

The USPS already does this for large mailers and for online purchases such as eBay. How long will it be until they push the everyday public to stop using stamps and persuade them to use printed labels with bar codes instead? Or maybe someday adhesive stamps will go away completely and everyone will use barcoded labels to send mail?

Someday, it may change the face of stamp collecting. What do you think?