Thursday, April 10, 2008

Book Value? PFFFFT.

Yesterday I ventured down to a local money pit and thought I would get some stuff. I walk into the store and they have a huge-mungous sign that says "Singles now at 50% of Beckett Value!"

After looking around for a little while and seeing that even at 50% BV, most of the singles were still 10% above eBay prices. I walked out of the store with some supplies and a bag of chips - no cards - because who wants to pay more than they have to?

Using beckett values to price things, trade things, or even measure your own collection is like using "Wins" as the way to determine the best pitcher in the league. Its widely done, but completely fucking asinine. People dont seem to understand the prices printed in Beckett are completely stupid and unnecessary when you have a free auction based system like eBay around. It only helps my cause that just about every single god damned card is on that site, from the commons to the big hittahs.

Burt Reynolds BV: $Texas

Lets use some random examples:

2006 Bowman Sterling David Wright Jersey card
Beckett Value: $15.00 high $6.00 low
Last eBay completed auction: $5.00 - 1 bid
Percent below book value: 66
Amount below low book: 1 dollar

2006 Derek Jeter AL Artifacts Jersey Card /325
Beckett value: $25.00 high $11 low
Last ebay completed auction: 10.25 - 4 bids
Percent below book value: 59
Amount below low book: .75

2006 SP Authentic Dan Haren By the Letter Auto /180
Beckett value: $30.00 high $15.00 low
Last eBay completed auction: $7.10 - 3 bids
Percent below book value: 67
Amount below low book: 7.90

Now, those are pretty random things I pulled off eBay and out of the Beckett. As you can see, the prices are fucking ludicrous. I want to know why people are so dependent on them when clearly the worth of these cards does not in any way hinge on the prices listed in the magazine.

History lesson: I know that back in the day, Beckett was the end all and be all of the pricing world because there was no mass pricing methods available through "teh interweb." Even though Beckett is like the old racial epiphets shouting grandpa who never makes sense, at one point they actually had a purpose besides being my daily toilet paper. Hell, 15 years ago, that card shop deal from above would have been fucking grandiose! Now, its just a laugh factory.

For those of you who still have the sac to trade by book value and scorn me for using eBay, please take notice of simple economics. I will not give you more than your card is worth because a magazine with little to no connection to the hobby still thinks they are god of the card collecting universe. I will give you exactly what it is worth because I can know that pretty easily. Shit, if I am feeling nice, I might give you more!

We are moving everything over to so please bear with us if things dont move as smoothly as we hope. Click the contact us button at the top if you are having problems.


  1. I once thought about creating a blog whose sole purpose was for pricing "inaccuracies", much in the same vein as what you have pointed out.

    I then realized I would have to quit my job and work on the blog full time to really get the message across, and to show the project the diligence it deserved. And I was only planning on dealing with hockey cards, arguably 4th in volume of Beckett's publications, ahead of only Racing.

    Beckett's prices went out the window as soon as eBay became a real tour de force in the collecting community. Regional premiums shouldn't exist because eBay is the world's marketplace. People got so blinded by the price guides and were so accustomed to referring to it as the bible of prices that it's a habit at this point. A bad one at that.

    Anyone who thinks Beckett's prices are spot on are either card shop owners or people who think they are gonna make millions off of each box break.

  2. Hey, if you actually took the time to go through and do that, I would read it just to salute the amount of effort it took to re-price every single card in that lame ass guide.

  3. I am sure glad somebody has finally said it. "Book" prices are way out of line relative to actual value. Value being what you can really sell any particular card for. Still 90% of show dealers or anyone else for that matter, sitting on an inventory of cards will insist on trying to sell for something close to "book". I routinely see prices at the shows for items I know sell on eBay for half that. That being said, now lets discuss the other "big" issue you see at the card shows: condition. It is very common for the dealers to have cases full of what are essentially damaged cards still trying to sell them for close to "book" as if condition were not a factor. Joe Montana rookie cards with bent corners, bad centering and skuff marks priced at $150.00. Maybe if you inquire the dealer well "let it go" today only for $100.00. It's not worth $10.00 in that condition.

  4. I chuckle everytime I go into the shop next to my office. I am not sure if they have actually sold any singles in the past two years, I am pretty sure that Joe Collector keeps them in business by picking up those 6.50 packs of 2006 Topps Basketball.

    Is it us? Are we the only ones that realize this? I am confused, although I have been guilty of this when I was 12 and I would wait for the new Beckett to come out to see how much my 1987 fleer Kevin Seitzers were worth. Remember when that card was hanging around 10 bucks? It was a big deal, I had two.

    It pains me to say that it even affects the "classics". 1983 Topps Sandbergs, Boggs and Gywnns can be had for 10-20% of beckett regularly. What I want to know is: Who are these people that go to the national shows and pay these prices?

  5. Book Value should be compared to sticker price, nobody pays ( or should pay ) anything near to BV. So it is pretty much irrelevant.

    The general card market has dropped a lot in the last few years. Before about 2005, you could find a whole AISLE of cards in a gas station. Now it is rare to even find a little stand at the register of them.