Where Do We Go From Here?

Its been a long time since I have posted directly on the state of affairs around the Card Blogger Network, but I feel at this point it is necessary for the new people who have come on lately (and there have been a lot of them). For those of you who are unfamiliar with the situation, check out Mario’s final post over at Wax Heaven. Mario, though I believe he will be back, was the top blog for card info by far, and that source is closed indefinitely. Love him or hate him, Mario was a driving force around here, and his departure creates a new situation for the rest of us.

First off, for those of you struggling to find a new place to go for all your info, Mario could not have picked a better time to leave. Thanks to social networking, the card companies are much more transparent in news dissemination than ever before. You can check out Upper Deck, Panini America, and Topps all on Twitter as well as facebook for a great run down of the news without fluff. Upper Deck also has a blog and twitter account stemming from that blog, both of which you will see content from me and other bloggers. Earlier this year, there were only a handful of independent sites dedicated to providing actual up to date hobby info, though now, it’s a completely different story.

If you are more looking for news plus commentary, there are a lot of great sites around in addition to this one. As Mario said, the Sports Card Blogroll is a great way to stay on top of every bit of news that comes flowing down the pipe. I have a number of favorites, and though I wont single out any of them due to the shear number of sites I read every day, I would wholeheartedly suggest you develop your own list.

Secondly, I would rush over to Blowoutcards‘ Forum and Freedom Card Board and get signed up right away. These forums are free and filled with an above average amount of informed collectors. I visit these sites regularly because they are unlike some of the other Mojo-loving pantheons that have sprung up over the last few years. I know both of these boards owners very well, and I also know that they are only about providing good service to their members rather than forcing an agenda down your throat.

In addition, there are a ton of the blogs and collectors on Twitter, and I follow most of them to get better connections with what is going on. Most of the bloggers post links from their site, or shortened commentary, and I would think there is no better way to just flood your mind with card news each morning. Here is a link to a list I think does a great job of giving you some suggestions on who to follow.

Thirdly, to all the bloggers out there, its time to step up and show what you got. You may only get 20 hits per day, but that is still 20 people you are reaching. I would check out this post I wrote a while ago about getting your blog on track, and continue to pump out thoughtful commentary and info at every turn. One of the most effective parts of running a successful blog has always been frequent updates, so I would encourage all of you to do as much as you can to keep people on the Card Blogger Network train.

Lastly, if you are a reader of this site or of Mario’s, there is nothing better to replace the downfall of the biggest site around than starting new blogs that have just as much talent in writing and new viewpoints to offer. I have always said that the best part of having new bloggers is having voices in the fray, and I will never hesisate to give you a spot on the blogroll to your right. Also, Chris at Freedom Card Board has created a place for you to start a new blog with little problems if you are unfamiliar with the medium.

I think this is going to be a tough time for the information network we have built, mainly because of how many thousands of people loved reading Mario’s site. Although I think he did a good job with what he did, it was not mainly discussed of the service that the blogs provide. Unlike the douchebags over at Beckett, we bloggers do this all for free and the love of the game, and our business is promoting the things we love and our profit is giving commentary to place we feel needs improvement. We don’t care about ad money, readership or profit margins, and the only green we strive for is a refractor out of Chrome, not cash. The extract that is created from this fruit is pure, unadulterated opinion and content, and you can bet your ass that every word is important. As long as we continue to voice our praises and criticisms, the only thing that can be hurt is culture of mistrust and criminality in this hobby.

Guys, I cannot be the only person rallying the troops, and I need you to match my commitment to helping keep the online community as the number one source for hobby information. Hopefully over the next few months we can rebuild a greater place for collectors to come than ever before.

Thanks again for all of your continued support.

A New PLATINUM Look At The Hobby Media

Yesterday, amongst all the bonanza at Wax Heaven, Mario has hit his 1,000,000th visitor making him the most visited card blog on the net. It wasnt anything surprising as Mario has worked his ass off for the last year and a half to get there, but what does that mean for the rest of the hobby media?

This blog has never hesitated to tout that because of the CBN, Beckett is no longer the hobby’s number one source on anything but Wrestling cards. Thanks to people like Mario, who have tirelessly promoted his brethren, there are more people coming to the blogs than Beckett’s monthly readership. Of course that really doesnt matter all that much these days, because more people use Beckett for checklisting than price and news anyways, something evidenced in their declining constituency, massive layoffs, and outsourcing of jobs.

Where do we go from here, now that Mario has hit platinum? Well, considering that all the bloggers do what they do for free, working outside of any responsibility to a manufacturer buying ads in their publications, and dont have to worry about pissing people off, Id say we are well on our way to bigger things. It used to be that people had very few places to go when they needed card news, and they were forced to use places that couldnt say anything real about the news they needed. This is no longer an issue, as more commentary is offered daily on the blogs than in all the major publications combined for the month.

On top of all of this, with growing dissension amongst the masses about conflicts of interest, I would say the hobby media has more X’s than blank days on their calendar to extinction. Hell, more people at the Beanie Wells event had seen my site than I ever expected.

Lets face it people, though things seem to be struggling in an industry with major ethical and financial problems, Bloggers are going stronger than ever. Congrats Mario, you deserve all the hoopla you get. Be sure to go check out all contests over there and get entered for boxes, cards and even a $50 gift certificate to DA Cardworld.

Card Shows: A Response

Ahh the card show, a place where every card collector can go to be with their brethren. According to Mario, they are dying because sports card sales are declining, but I don’t think that could be farther from the truth. I think the real reason has to do with a number of things that are mostly stemming from the rise of eBay’s prowess in the hobby, as well as a decline in the number of people who could benefit from going. I want to go into this a little further because I think it’s a topic that many of us think about every time we walk into that stale air filled ballroom.

Card Show Pros: Why Its Still Good To Go To Or Sell At Shows

1. It’s a place with a lot of collectors, its something to do

Lets face it, we have all become accustomed to faceless dealings on message boards devoted to gathering like minded people. Instead of actual interaction with actual people, we have all decided to go anonymous and spend hours fighting over who is the gayest in an argument. At a show, you get to be around collectors and actually watch the hobby in action. Its fun to have people to discuss things with, and though I think this is an overrated plus to the overwhelming amount of minuses, its still something that would draw me to a show.

2. People Who Arent Looking For Expensive Cards

Im not talking about people who want to buy a few 10 dollar singles, im talking about the people who will spend the time to go through bin after bin of 4 for a quarter cards to complete their set, or people who are looking to spend very little and get a lot. The shows are filled with tables who use this as a way to pay for their spot, which means there are tons of places for you to scavenge.

3. Sellers Who Do It As A Hobby Rather Than A Source Of Income

A lot of sellers still think there is lots of money to be made at shows. There probably is some, but only in VERY specific situations. Those are the people who will populate my list of why not to go to shows. Every once in a while you find a guy who sets up at a show to make connections, or find new customers to his shop. This is the guy who goes to shows as a hobby rather than a career. The shop is the career, not the show. This is the guy who will chat you up, give you what you need, be a nice person. He isnt there to make money, and will more than likely have all the things mentioned in number 2. Because there are a captive audience of people, it’s a good place to advertise your shop for those of us without a regular money pit. However, this could be dangerous if you are already in the red for your business.

4. People Who Want To Trade And Not Buy

When I say trade, I mean trade with other people there, and not with the dealers. There is no reason to go and trade at shows unless you are okay with taking a bath on the cards you are giving away. However, if you deal in inexpensive cards, it may be worth your while to trade with the dealers to get the stuff for the people in number 1. For the rest of us, there are a lot of people there who will be available to trade, and those are the best people to make friends with. Its basically message board trading without the mail, which is a great situation.

5. To Watch or Window Shop

It is great place to go just to see what’s out there. Until I went to a show in Minnesota, I had never seen an Exquisite card in real life, it was always on a site or youtube. There are going to be a lot of amazing pieces at these shows, though at highway robbery prices, but its still worth seeing what they are like in real life. Think the Triple Threads XXIV Relic cards look amazing online (shame on you!)? Try seeing them in person, it’s a true eye sore. Also, if you like watching case and box breaks on the tube, this is your chance to see them in person. If you do breaks on message boards, you can avoid the douches who post pack by pack and scream like 12 year olds whenever they pull a jersey card. OMG! BARRY-JO!!!! Fuck you.

6. You Get To See What You Buy Before You Buy

But you will pay through the nose to do so. Yes this is a good thing, but with high quality scanners today, its becoming less of an issue.

7. No fees, no chargebacks, no scams

We all know what feebay is capable of, and we definitely know what the sellers and buyers are capable of. At a show, what you see is what you get. That means, if you want the card on the table, it will be the card on the table and not a similar card or a completely unrelated item. All of those have happened to me online.

Card Show Cons: Why The Above Stuff Means Absolutely Nothing

1. You Have To Pay To Get In

See, everyone is out to make a buck, including the people who run the show. Want to do any of the things I just talked about? You will be forced to pay to get in, most of the time. Guess what? Ebay is free, and has four thousand times the number of cards you will see at the show. It also has a money back guarantee on paypal, which can USUALLY work to your advantage, and you don’t have to drive anywhere. I cant tell you how liberating it is to buy cards in your draws.

2. You Have To Live In Beckett’s World

Yup, just about every single dealer will still be living in 1992. They will pull out a Beckett every time you want to trade, and they will pull out a Beckett every time you want to buy. You will be forced to buy on percentages of BV, and we all know what a fucking joke that is. The best thing? You have to lie through your teeth to support them or they may not give you as good of a price. Oh yeah, I love Beckett and think the book is the bible of cards. Right.

3. You Have To Pay More Than A Card Is Worth

This will kind of feed into just about every other thing on the cons list, but basically you will have to be prepared to pay more than you should for a card, mainly because of number 2, but also because you are a captive customer. On eBay, you have the choice of what price to pay, and you can avoid the whole book value thing unless the guy is a clueless tool. See, on eBay, most of the cards are posted thousands of times, and you will only pay exactly what the card is worth, as long as you can use auction format. Even with BINs, most of the time you will be able to negotiate TO market value, unless, again, the guy is a clueless tool.

4. You Have To Associate With People Whose Only Goal Is To Make Money

You may say that ebay is the same thing, but it is and it isnt. People’s goal on eBay is to make money, but most of the time its very hard to make more than you should. At a show, you live in a Beckett world, so the dealers have the ability to charge more. Its kind of like a
shop. Never buy singles from either because prices are always adjusted for the fact that the storefront is not free. At a show you also will get nothing in terms of trade, because they will need money on their side to make it worth it. Even if the market value is exactly the same, they will not accept the trade because it doesn’t make them any money. Ebay provides all of the ways to buy cards at or below market value, and message boards usually provide a good way to do trades without having to put up with the 66% rule of how much ill give you for your card. That is, unless you are dealing with a clueless tool who has no idea that Beckett Value is about as relevant to the hobby as a Model T is to cars.

5. You May Get To See The Cards, But Do You?

Yes, you can see the cards in person, but the presentation is controlled by the seller. That means they decide what cases they use, how you see it, and what you can do with the card. Want to take it out of the holder? Its up to them. With eBay, you get the same kind of presentation, but you usually have quite a few cards to choose from. Plus, most people place hi-res photos on their auctions which are almost as good as picking it up. Don’t think they are representing the card correctly? You are the sought after customer, so most of the time they will give you what you want. At a show, you are there for them, not the other way around. On eBay sellers usually want to sell at the best price, so they are there for you. Most of the time.

6. Personalities Are Always On Display

This can be a good thing and a bad thing. At a show, its usually the latter. Again, number 4, so they are usually scrotastic douches who think you are just another sheep in the herd. Because most of the dealers at a show know when they have something they want, you have to gravel to them, where on eBay, its different. 90% of the sales I have done have been 100% communicationless, and yet I am still satisfied because I got what I want. Whether you are talking to them or just handing them your hard earned money, you will get a good idea who they are, and them you. Its usually quite off putting to give a douchebag your money regardless of what you get. Although douches are all over eBay, most of the time you don’t have to deal with them face to face.

7. On Ebay People Are Specifically Looking For The Stuff You Are Selling

Which means that you don’t have to cater your presentation to anyone other than the people you want to sell to. At a show, its every type of person and then some. On eBay its one card at a time if that’s the way you want it. That means your steelers auction can be filled with steelers shit rather than just putting it on display for everyone, including the cowboys fans. You may have to pay the fees on eBay, but there is a bigger guarantee that your stuff will sell if it’s a desirable piece. Even if its not, it will probably still sell, and it wont have to take up space on your table. At a show, you have to sell only your a-list stuff if you want to make any sales. Go up with a bunch of 1990 Hoops Basketball cards and people will pass you by. Not usually so on eBay if catered correctly.

When it comes down to it, would I care THAT much if shows or shops went the way of the dodo? Not really, as long as the internet was still running strong with sales. I also know for sure that it is all the reasons above as to why shows are going bye-bye rather than a nebulous decline in sales. If anything, its not the sales themselves that have gone down, but rather the ways the sales are completed.

In the end, its going to be eBay or the highway, and really, im okay with that.