Yesterday, I'm Your Average Card Collector asked the question: Is Beckett really relevant anymore, or will it go extinct?
Well, yes and no.
When Beckett magazine started, and all through the 1990s, collectors didn't have access to the wealth of information the internet provides, especially current real market prices through sites like eBay. If I want to know what others are paying for the card, I just need to complete a couple searches and find my answer. Unlike fifteen years ago, there can be dozens of sellers offering the same card I'm looking for, and they're all instantly accessible. In the past, I would have to call up or travel to multiple stores and hope they would have what I want.
When Beckett was at its prime, there was no way of knowing what similar cards had sold for in the past, and if your card shop dealer was charging a fair price. The magazine armed collectors with the tools necessary to equalize the playing field.
Do the prices in the magazine match real sales? It depends on where you're looking. eBay sales rarely match Beckett high prices, but should they? The high book prices are meant to represent the highest retail prices one would expect to pay. I generally expect to pay somewhere around the low price in an environment like eBay. Plus, auction sites have added variables of excitement and timing which can cause the same card to sell for completely different prices within hours.
But what about the cards that don't sell very often? Data on those cards isn't readily available. I think the price guide is important for use as it was originally intended - as a guide. Sure, it's not so helpful with volatile prices, like rookies, but I think it's helpful for most cards. Do I use the price guide to be sure I'm getting a good deal? Not usually - I generally expect to pay a certain price range for different types of cards. But it comes in handy when I don't know enough about a set or player. Plus, the big books (both Beckett and SCD) are excellent reference tools when it comes to expected prices and details on rare sets.