Virtual Cards Earn Tangible Cash

from the real-cards-are-for-suckers dept

When I was a kid, I spent a few years collecting baseball cards. I knew they had the potential to be worth something, but I wasn’t always that careful with them, and so many of them got damaged. As the baseball card trading business became much more of a business, there were stories of people who kept every baseball card in immaculate condition, carefully guarded in case it was worth something later on. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise last year to read about the new Topps online baseball card trading site, where you could buy and sell baseball cards that you never get to physically posses. Instead, to make sure they never get damaged, the cards always remain in a specially guarded, climate-controlled drawer. Seems like it takes the fun out of “collecting” baseball cards – but it adds back in the fun for those who like to do a little market speculation, apparently. The latest on that site is that it’s doing very well, and people can’t get enough of buying and selling baseball cards they’ll never see. You can actually have the cards taken out of the warehouse and shipped to you – but then you lose the ready-made market for them. After that, you’re stuck trying to convince a dealer that it really is in mint condition, and that it’s really worth the price that the pricing books say it’s worth. While the current trading system (based on eBay’s platform) is more of an auction system – people involved with the site say they want to make more like a trading system. They want people to be able to do instant trades and (oh boy!) set up baseball card derivatives and mutual funds. They’re also thinking about ways to tamper with the market a bit to make it reflect a player’s actual stats. For example, if a player hits a home run, you could get a “dividend” of points that you could spend on more cards. It all sounds fun if you like playing the market – but it sort of takes away the fun of collecting baseball cards.

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