Thursday, March 6, 2014
The Economic Irrationality of Sports Card Magazine
I haven`t actually bought one of these in a few years, the one in the photo above is from 2005 which I just picked up at random at a used book store for 100 yen. The only time I bought one new was in 2002. At the time I was living in Himeji and a sports card store had just opened up downtown. I used to go there after work a lot and bought packs of 2002 BBM from them pretty regularly, I came close to finishing both series entirely through packs. My business wasn`t quite enough to keep the store going though and it was closed by 2003, thus putting an end to my foray into baseball card collecting for a while.
Anyway, to get back to the magazine, I only bought one copy of it for two reasons. One is that it cost 1000 yen, which is a bit pricey. More importantly though is the fact that the prices in it just make no sense at all. Nothing in it makes sense.
I noticed this at the time. Take a look at the 2002 BBM set for example. Common cards are listed as being worth between 50 and 80 yen each.
Now a pack of 2002 BBM with ten cards in it cost only 200 yen, or 20 yen per card. So by Sports Card Magazine logic, if you got a pack entirely filled with nothing but commons you would still be getting between 500 and 800 yen worth of cards. What?
When I read criticisms of Beckett pricing and how it bears no resemblence to reality I always have to laugh. You Americans think Beckett is bad? That is amateur hour. If Sports Card Magazine was pricing American cards, your 1991 Donruss commons would be worth 50 cents each and a complete set of 1989 Topps would probably be listed for about the same as the blue book value of a recent model Toyota Corrola.
I really have no idea what they think is driving the price of these cards. I mean, I bought a 3200 card box of random BBM cards including stars a few months ago for 2000 yen (about 20 bucks), which works out to less than 1 yen each. These are not rare cards nor would anyone be well advised to be paying that much for them. Also, valueing these cards so high actually kind of undervalues cards which are actually hard to find and might be worth that much. Calbee commons from the extremely hard to find sets of the early-mid 1990s they price only slightly higher (100 yen each mostly). Those cards are several orders of magnitude harder to find, and much more sought after, than BBM cards from mass produced sets and yet according to Sports Card Magazine they are only worth 20-50% more.
The next logical question is do dealers actually price cards that way? Actually, some of them do. Which begs the question of whether or not anyone actually buys them. I could see buying one or two to finish your set at that price, but that would be it. And dealers can`t survive off of the odd one or two collectors buying the odd one or two cards for 50 to 80 yen each, so why would they even bother stocking these?
OK, this is making my head spin a bit. I haven`t bought a copy of Sports Card Magazine in a long time, I`m not sure if they are still this bad or not. Some of the articles are at least kind of interesting, but that is about all I can say for it!