|Does Beckett have a clue about Card Prices?|
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Posted by jaygross
Not too long after I started started collecting cards, my friend's father asked my friend and me while visiting a local card shop "Why is that 1960 Mickey Mantle worth $35? Why should you buy it at that price?". We were probably 7 or 8 years old at the time, and our response was that is what the price book says the value is.
He was a successful businessman and went on to explain basic economics principles about supply vs. demand, elasticity, etc. I am not really sure it mattered what he said and the validity of his points, as having a price guide made it easy for us to relate perceived value to our collections. Isn't it amazing how that viewpoint is shared by so many collectors and dealers, and has completely powered this hobby?
I was at Target this past weekend, and I was thumbing through the Beckett and Tuff Stuff Price Guides. I am not a fan of either of these and would not buy them. It is my opinion that they clearly do not reflect anything close to accurate prices for sports cards. I don't know anyone would ever need to pay the values in those overvalued guides unless it is for commons or harder to find issues.
I may be wrong, but I have always felt like it really doesn't matter what Beckett puts in their guide for a particular card. They are still going to sell lots of printed magazines and subscriptions to their online service - just because of their brand. And the fact they sell cards through their marketplace that they price/grade blows my mind.
I realize Beckett has market share and has been the brand we all have known for 30+ years. I've seen they have made a fairly significant investment in technology to improve their site ever since Dr. James Beckett sold the company a few years backs. I still would not use their site.
I had heard rumblings that Beckett magazine was changing their format to be more like Tuff Stuff, by including multiple sports in one magazine (and raising the cover price). What I didn't expect was only to see pricing for cards from that past few years. I have to think that a significant portion of collectors are most interested in vintage items and would like "pricing" information on these items. Now it's even worse than Tuff Stuff...
Somebody sent me this link to the YouTube video below and I was blown away when I saw this video that Beckett produced. It makes a joke about how they determine prices, and it's amazing that most collectors would actually think this is how they determine prices - getting a bunch of folks in a room giving opinions with little to back up them up.
I really hope to one day see a good alternative. In the past year I have seen a couple of decent subscription based price guide sites pop up that base their findings on actual auction results - but they are only considering graded cards. Since 99% of cards available are not graded (and I have no interest in graded cards), I still think this is an extremely flawed offering that I would never use.
In 2004, I got fed up and created a piece of software that allowed me to figure out how much items were selling for on eBay and see trends. Sometimes being a programmer has its advantages. I now know what was a good range to bid on particular cards - and it has helped me know what to bid and to be more patient to get better deals.
In 2006, I brought this to Internet as http://www.AuctionCapture.com. It's completely FREE and really easy to use. Over the past year and a half, it has grown significantly and now quite a few buyers have been using these free tools pretty regularly.
I am always amazed with buying trends, especially as I love statistical analysis. I love to go to the Popular Items page (requires you to log in) and see the variety of cool things people are interested in. To my surprise, there were very few of the most popular auctions that had anything to with sports or things I am interested in.
Over the next few months, I plan to add a few more important pieces of functionality - including tools to help sellers track and promote their auctions. Please stay tuned...
Although I am very proud of http://www.AuctionCapture.com and how it has helped buyers, it is not (and was never meant to be) a properly organized sports card price guide. So I feel like there is a big void for our hobby that collectors deserve. I'm wondering what you guys think.
Is a site with more accurate market based results on sports cards something that would interest you and be something you would use (especially if it was free)?
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