Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Screw you, book value

In the blogosphere, we seem to inspire each other quite a lot.

I can't tell you how many times I've composed a post as an add-on to another blogger's idea over the course of this blog's history.

I've been fortunate enough to have a few others build off of a few pieces I've written in the past as well.

As I addressed a couple days ago, that "inspiration" is a major part of being a member of this wonderful community.

It took only two days into the new year for me to be "inspired" by another blogger.

As it turns out, I'm not the only blogosphere member to have emerged from the deep trenches of trading forums.

In describing a recent "iconic" pickup, Adam of "ARPSmith's Sportscard Obsession" recounted his previous trading forum experiences.

More importantly, he went on to describe how the blogosphere went about changing everything he'd learned during his time there.

It sure was comforting to read.

In terms of purely cardboard, I think the most important lesson I've learned from the blogosphere has to do with one of the recurring themes of Adam's post.

Book value.

More importantly, the sheer worthlessness of it.

After reading what Adam had to say about the topic, I went back and took a deep look at how much the ideals of the blogosphere helped shape me into the collector I am today.

Although it's something I've thought and written about quite a bit in the past, I learned even more about my collection this time around.

And myself, for that matter.

In order to really convey that fact, I'd like to give you a little look into what my pre-blogger self looked like, similar to what Adam did in his writings.

Sure, I loved dime boxes. I have since long before I became a blogger. And I did indeed have my few personal favorites I'd pulled from the dime box depths in the past.

However, a lot of what made a card "valuable" to me back then was its book value.

If a card had a nice "book value", it became an instant favorite of mine.

This Roy Halladay card was the first one I thought of when the ideas started flowing for this post.

During my trading forum days, I loved this card.


Because, last I checked, it had a book value of fifteen dollars.

Fifteen dollars!


Forget the fact that the blue borders actually work quite well with the design. Forget the fact that it was one of Halladay's first cards as a Phillie.

And forget that fact that he's airbrushed into Steve Carlton's retired #32 Philadelphia uniform.

Forget the stuff that really matters.

Didn't you hear me?

This card is worth fifteen dollars!

It's my favorite card ever!

Ah, the trading forum.

I spent hours a day on that thing before I found the blogosphere.

Hours spent trying to make the "book values" of 40 extra base cards from 2011 Topps match the handful of inserts I wanted from someone else.

If they didn't exactly match, well...then I'd have to remove one or two of the inserts I wanted from the swap.

Even if I really wanted them. And even if they were just sitting around in someone's basement, serving no real purpose otherwise.

But, I didn't mind.

That's the protocol on trading forums.

I came to accept it after a while.

Seconds wasted. Minutes wasted. Hours wasted.

Days of precious collecting wasted.

I don't know what I was thinking back then.

That's how I've come to see it now, anyways.

And what so quickly changed my views on my trading forum way of collecting?


You guessed it.

The blogosphere.

It's basically acted as a 12-step program for former book value "addicts" such as myself.

Except it's really only one step.

So, what was that one step?

It forced me to ask myself one simple question.

"Am I really getting the most out of this hobby with this whole 'book value' thing?"

And the answer invariably came back.


That's when I really realized how special this place is.

It taught me to take a deeper look into all these pieces of cardboard. Way, way past that whole "book value" sham.

I still love that blue bordered Roy Halladay card I featured at the top of this post.

But I love it for all the right reasons these days.

I could care less about the fact that it's supposedly "worth" fifteen bucks.

It could be worth a dime for all I care.

And I love this Fred Lewis card. And all my other short-prints, for that matter.

But not because SPs are "worth" a few bucks a piece.

I love them because I have something that few others can say they have. That's what makes this one such a prime piece of my Giants binder.

Book value or not, I will never, ever trade Mr. Lewis away.

In the end, that's really all that matters.

As if the post wasn't inspiring enough, a comment left on Adam's post made me realize how sheltered my pre-blogger self really was.

It came from none other than Mr. Night Owl.

"Glad to hear so many bloggers are changing over to what I consider 'real' collecting. Every time I read one of those stories the collecting forums sound so sad."

He's right.

Although I can laugh about it now, my forum ways were quite "sad".

Since Larry Lintz isn't a "binder guy", this would've been just another worthless twenty-cent common to me back in the day.

Now, "binder guy" or not, I see it as one awesome piece of cardboard. Afros don't get much better than that.

Fittingly, it arrived on my doorstep a few months ago from Mr. Owl himself.

He knew I'd like it.

No matter what its "book value" might be.

I imagine a few non-bloggers might say that we are in no position to judge between "right" and "wrong" in terms of collecting.

Maybe that's true.

But we do it the "right" way around here. Most people who blog or who have ever read a blog would probably tell you that.

And given how awesome everyone is in the blogosphere, that should tell you something.

No matter what anyone else might say, we do things the "right" way here.

Having dipped my toes into both mediums, I can say for absolute certain that I'll never go back to the whole "book value" thing.

I'll never fall off the proverbial blogosphere "wagon".

Thanks to the great people around here, I've developed a fairly simple motto these days.

"Personal value, not book value."

Remember that, kids.

Screw book value.


Brad's Blog said...

The way i see it if both parties are happy the trade was fair. Book value in my mind is more like a guideline for current market supply and demand. Actual value is whats important (if selling) ebay,comc lets you know what cards are going for, and gives you good ammunition if you want to haggle at card shows.

tourist504 said...

I couldn't agree more. I have pages and pages of cards that have huge value, but no monetary worth. And that is not a problem for me because I'm a collector. I also have 20 dollar cards on the page next to 20-cent commons. That's where they belong.

My problem is that my collecting fetish is a guy whose cards go for real money. Walking that line has been expensive....

William said...

I keep trying to tell my older brother that book value and card condition aren't the keys to the hobby like they supposedly were back in the day. I still run into folks all the time who are so handcuffed to condition and book value when they are wanting to trade. I think we, as a group are moving away from BV as a whole. It is a nice guide, especially if you want to put out an insurance policy on your collection. I believe a card is truly worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

Ryan M said...

You nailed far as I'm concerned, if both sides are happy then it's a good trade.

Robert said...

I actually first ran into you Nick, if I remember correctly on the bench. I think you had just started writing this blog, and you had asked for opinions.

To be honest, after I replied to you how I felt about your blog, I don't think I've traded there since.

I don't miss it either.

Great post!

Chunter said...

A friend of mine recently dropped off some cards for me to look at and "see how much they're worth." But after having read the many card blogs that have the attitude you're talking about, that's actually kind of hard to do. Just because I like a card doesn't mean it has a high BV. Anyway. Neat stuff Nick!

Joe Average Card Collector said...

I use book value as ONLY a reference. Cards for me are valued by how I feel the card is or should be worth. To Beckett they think a star player as someone who never has been in the big leagues but thinks of someone like Larry Walker, a true star as a common. A player I have may be valuable to me but not as much to you. I think BV is a way for card companies to justify charging so much for their cards. How many people buy an autograph from a never heard of minor league pitcher for $8? ZERO! If I meet someone who is trying to sell their cards at BV most of the time I will walk right by them because they are at the mindset of BV is king.

Jeff Wilk said...

If you are in this hobby as an investment, then you care about book value. But if you are this hobby because it is fun and enjoyable, then you don't give a rat's behind about book value, because you know the value of the card is your emotional attachment to it.

Do you know that a human life has value? Real monetary value? It does - Congress set it years ago. And the reason why they did is simple - it's all about business. It's all about putting the dollar before a human. And that is why book value sucks, and having fun and giving WAY more than you should to a collector rocks. If any of you saw the joy and excitement in my face when I have opened envelopes you have sent me, and then realized you gave me that happiness from a piece of printed paper, you would comment what a bargain you got out of the deal.

P-town Tom said...

I completed at most 15 trades in 2012, but it made me feel like a little kid again.

I'd get home from work and literally run down to the mailbox to check and see if a trade envelope had arrived. Nothing in the mailbox? No problem, I'd blissfully run to the mailbox again the next day.

The blogosphere is so generous with its trades. I always try to put something extra in with my trade packages and I'm never disappointed on my end.

I'm big on value when it comes to cards, just not monetary kind of value.

arpsmith said...

Great post Nick as usual, glad to have inspired you once and returned the favor - you have inspired me many times.

hiflew said...

To be honest, book value on the trading forums actually helps a "lesser" team collector such as myself. Most of my Rockies are vastly undervalued by the "book" and I can trade one Derek Jeter for like 2-4 Todd Helton or Troy Tulowitzki cards. I prefer trading the "blog-o-way," but the trading forums are useful too. If anything just to freshen up my trading inventory.