Sunday, March 16, 2014

Does "book value" matter?

I've bought a bunch of unopened retail packs and boxes in the past few weeks.  There were those three "nostalgia" boxes -- 2008 Goudey and the 2008 and 2013 Allen & Ginter -- that I blew through last weekend.  Then, during the week, my wife and I were at Target and she encouraged me to buy a bunch of things to open (so she could watch her various "reality" shows that she likes and I can't stand, like Survivor and The Bachelor).  Finally, I bought a few boxes from DA Card World on their "daily deals" page.

So, the cards and the inserts have piled up.  I'm talking about a mishmash of stuff too -- everything from this nice 2012 Topps Chrome Orange Refractor (which was on the front of one of those Fairfield repacks that includes an unopened 2012 Topps pack):

and two of these Nolan Ryan 2012 Topps Cut Above inserts:

to these two inserts from the 2008 Topps Heritage set -- a Chipper Jones refractor numbered to 559 and a Clubhouse Collection jersey relic for Ryan Zimmerman:

So, my question to everyone is this: should book value really matter to me with these items?  I mean, I know enough to store these at least in penny sleeves and a toploader.  But, how much do you look at either the Beckett value or the eBay auctions for cards when you are considering trading them to others?  

Or, is book value really just something that is a rough estimate to determine whether you keep or sell a card? Is it something else?

I don't want to fall into the 1980s-spiral of "I can't get rid of this card for that because Beckett/SCD/Baseball Cards Magazine/Zoltar the Magnificent says it's worth $8 and I'm only getting $3 of 'value' back!"  At the same time, I also don't want to feel like either I'm taking advantage of someone or vice versa in a trade.  

What do you guys think?


  1. Here is my humble opinion. I don't generally worry about what I'm getting in return as far as a "value". I've been trading with other bloggers/readers since 2008 and I try not to concern myself with what I'm getting back in return. I try to overpay in a sense, send more than I'm getting back, just because I enjoy the trading so much. Beckett has ZERO bearing on anything I do and I think most bloggers would agree that Beckett has ZERO clue about the value of cards. Ebay is a better source for what a card is worth because a card isn't worth what a magazine says, it's worth what someone will pay for it.

    Just look at the cards you pictured. Since I collect Joe Mauer, that card has the most value to me. Any Braves collector is going to tell you the Jones is worth the most and no one thinks that Zimmerman relic is worth anything. Well, maybe Ryan's mom.

    I've been doing this long enough that there are a handful of guys that I don't even worry about "trading" with. I send them cards on a fairly regular basis without there even being a conversation about it. Eventually they send me something back. The same goes the other way as well. I'll get a package of cards unsolicited and then I start working on sending cards back. I don't keep track of the "value" of what I'm sending or receiving. I would hope that if someone sent me something exceptional I would try to reciprocate, but it's usually just sending cards back and forth. If I felt the need to track value, it would quickly cease to be fun for me and I'd stop. I actually wrote a post about this way back in October of 2009. Check it out if you want.

    1. That pretty much sums up what I was thinking -- both back in the 1980s and now. I came from a similar background as you -- little town of less than 2000 people, but pretty close to the big city of Milwaukee.

      My main concern is that I feel like I'm not doing enough when I send out stuff to people because, well, I don't have much of recent vintage to help people there and I have a ton of junk wax.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope that most folks are of this opinion as well -- I think they are based on reading their blogs, but I sincerely worry that people will think what I've sent isn't very "valuable."

  2. I typically use "book values" as a source of entertainment. Although I actually think Beckett has made an effort to update their price guides to be more accurate... they're far from reliable. I know there are people who live by it and I respect that, but I for one don't.

    On the flipside... I also don't live and die by eBay completed sales every time either. I feel they're a lot more up to date compared to Beckett. However they have their faults too. Sometimes people list cards with very low or very high BIN and it sells. But that doesn't mean it's accurate. It just means that a buyer got very lucky or failed to do their research.

    When the day is over... I don't think there's an exact value for sports cards. It comes down to what people want and what people want to pay for something. A smart buyer or trader does their research and can typically come up with a certain range for what they believe a card is worth to them (which may or may not fit the range of another collector).

    Book values in regards to trading is an added, slightly more complicated layer for me. When trying to trade with people on forums or with other bloggers, I'll usually ask them their preference and try my best to use their terms. I personally have no problem using eBay values or Beckett values as long as both parties are happy. I also have no problem using "no values" either. I've completed plenty of blind trades with other bloggers where we just send "cards" without listing contents. Sometimes one party ends up with better cards than the other... and if that happens to be me, than I'll try my best to find stuff for that person to even things up. I'm a big believer of "cardboard karma" and would never want anyone to feel that I ripped them off.

    Ummm... hopefully this comment makes sense. Sometimes I tend to ramble on and on.

    1. Fuji, you made perfect sense. If you haven't been able to tell by now, I ramble too!

  3. I don't worry about book value either...and believe it or not, some of us set collectors out here need junk wax.
    I have run into the same problem where someone is so specific in what they collect that I have absolutely nothing that they need. I've gone to card shows looking for stuff for other people. If you look hard enough, you can find stuff they like for relatively cheap.
    Since I'm a set collector, what I send out are my dupes. They are just sitting here taking up space. You could send me 2 cards from 1988 Score and I could sent you a couple of team bags of cards you needed and it wouldn't faze me a bit. Told you I needed junk wax.