Monday, July 21, 2008

Beckett and It's Relevancy to the Hobby...In My World!!!

It has to be a slow news day in the hobby world. Thanks to the Sports Card Blogroll, I am able to read many really good blogs written by many really good writers. Today's big hullabaloo seems to be about the problems with a certain Hobby magazine who says that their brand is the number 1 publication in the Hobby. And by all accounts, Beckett Media can lay claim to the title (I mean, have you seen the competition???), and for good reason. They've been around for a long time, and have been reporting prices in a guide of such fashion since the late 70's.

Before the internet age, Beckett's "guide" was pretty much the absolute end-all when it came to pricing singles and sets. There was always the header at the beginning that stated that Beckett gathers its information from sales from stores throughout the country. They even factored in the idea that in certain regions, prices for cards were higher in one market for a player or team's card than it would be somewhere across the country. The prices listed were there, but the disclaimer at the end was that the prices listed in the guide are just to be used AS A GUIDE!!! The value of a card is always what someone is willing to pay for it at that certain time. If a store sold by Beckett's pricing, and a customer bought it, then that's the price paid. In many of the stores I visited, they would list the "Beckett" price, and then their real price. Beckett was THAT influential in the minds of those who ran shops and sold at shows when it came to pricing their cards for sale.

Now with the internet, many collectors have started to drift away from "Beckett" and now claim that eBay (or some other site) is the best way to determine pricing. I'm not going to argue that point. In today's market, and realistically, in today's society, we demand instant answers. We demand to know the answers right now, and don't want to wait until later to get what we need. If we don't like what we see, then we'll go somewhere else to get an opinion that is more favorable. And with many of the cards that are out there, with limited print runs, or those with something extra like an autograph or a piece of jersey, a printed guide can be deemed outdated as soon as it comes off the presses.

The prices realized on the Bay in many instances, do become the price that people are willing to spend for a card at a certain point in time. You can use the KO aftermath when 2006 Topps Alex Gordon cards were selling at "insane" prices. Two years later, after Keith stopped buying the cards, some sellers will still put up auctions for these cards at those "insane prices" and somehow, people are still willing to buy them at that price.

The big gripes, from what I have read, that some people have (and it's not just the bloggers) about the Beckett guides is that the company advertises stuff from the manufacturers themselves. Topps, and the other guys, spend a lot of money on advertising in Beckett (if you think that not buying the magazine is going to cause the staff there to lose sleep, are you ever wrong) for the latest products. And what used to be the practice of buying a random box of cards at a local store ended when the companies began sending them the boxes themselves. When those video box breaks came out, and somehow they opened boxes that had what was deemed by the collecting public as the best card in the entire product, it pretty much laid the foundation of conspiracy theories that have abound since. Now can this be considered a conflict of interest? Perhaps. But the company never claimed to be Consumer Reports, and I am pretty sure that they don't plan on changing to become it any time soon.

After reading all the gripes about the magazine that a couple of blogs put out, I ask myself, does this really matter to me? Should I be concerned? Should I join those who have complained out loud about how outdated Beckett is in it's pricing?

The answer to all of the no.

To me, the guide is just that...a guide. If someone wants to sell a card that I want to me at Beckett pricing, and I think it's a reasonable price, then I'll buy it. If not, then I'll ask for lower or move on. I do look up to see what the last prices were on a card or a set I want sold on eBay, so I can see whether or not the demand has gone down or to see if I can find it at a cheaper price. This is the way I went about getting most of my insert sets from the late 90's.

I'd be lying if I said that I am not overly obsessed with the value of my collection. I do think about it, but I don't lose sleep if my 1988 Topps set loses value from one day to the next. I don't plan on selling it any time soon. However, if ever the day comes that I decide to insure my collection, be sure that I'll be using the prices in the Big Beckett Book to determine a value on what I have.

I still buy the Beckett Baseball magazine, since my focus is 99.9% on baseball. I did buy the combined monthly magazine for the first few months, then decided that I really didn't need to read about football, basketball, hockey, or racing cards that I would never purchase. I just wanted the baseball stuff, and am going to stick to the bi-monthy magazine. Of course the pricing is going to be "outdated," but that's going to be on new products. I don't think the value of 1985 Topps commons is going to change any time soon. Besides, I don't do a lot of trading. But when I do, I trade for what I need for what I want. As mentioned in a previous post, I don't care if I have to send 100 cards to someone, if that person has at least one card that I need, I will send all I can to that person to help him or her with their collection. What the cards "book for" don't matter to me, as long as I get what I want, and that the other person's want list is reduced significantly.

I still do read the actual price guide for the pricing information, then until the new magazine comes out, I mainly focus on the articles in the front of the magazine. I still read the magazine for the articles. They have good stuff, and they do the job of promoting the hobby, and putting it in a positive light. As they should. And because of reader's demands to balance the good with the "bad" of the hobby, Beckett has, albeit slowly, done so with their critiques of some of the hobby wrongs (pack searching, card trimming, et. al).

To me, Beckett is still relevant to our Hobby. They still play a huge role in determining what the "value" is on cards. And I will still be buying the magazine (the Baseball only magazine) because of the information that they provide. Am I a bit more wary about their practices, yes. Does it affect me at all, not one bit. It's not like I have my eyes glued to every word they print, but the information they provide, when the articles are worth reading, are more valuable to me than any pricing they can put in the "guide."


JayBee Anama


Anonymous said...

Some people complain about anything. Keep up the good wrok.

I am sick of the complainers out there who make fun of people for liking beckett or even for liking some kinds of cards.

I think some people just like to say the f word alot. THey are just trying to be kings of the dorks anyway. WHo cares about being king of the dorks? I like my cards and I like my ways of doing things, and I am glad you do as well.

Oh and you don't swear either.

Wax Heaven said...

The King of Dorks? Anyone who would say something like that, well.....

Gellman said...

JB, this part I like.

"What the cards "book for" don't matter to me, as long as I get what I want, and that the other person's want list is reduced significantly."

The rest of the article is definitely the opposite of what i believe to be true. I really think you need to think a little bit harder about all those articles you love so much. Its kind of scary that you dont really care what is behind the curtain.

Im not going to be revisiting this comment, so please email me if you would like to discuss.