Don't buy packs. Don't. They're beyond -ev and well into the realm of just plain stupid. "Book value" is an absolute farce. Since the advent of ebay and the come-lately existence of a large, central market that arbitrates card prices in real time, the entire concept of a few guys at a publishing company arbitrarily setting prices is a dated (and laughable) concept. Sure, the idea that little cardboard pieces with pictures of athletes have "value" to begin with is a farce to begin with, but if they are to be valuated in some way, trust selling prices, not "price guide" prices.I'm a "returning" collector myself and I must admit, I'm a bit disgusted at what the hobby has become. Ridiculous "parallel" sets, too many brands and variants... It's next to impossible to collect new players with any sort of chance of ever being complete. I will admit that the autographed stuff is cool and I've picked some up (mainly of the old guys), but I think the "game used" thing has gone overboard and the "historic game used" cards that cut up Babe Ruth bats into little pieces border on being criminal, IMO. The hobby as far as newly produced cards has evolved into a totally illogical mess. For example, this
Rosa Parks "cut" autograph card sold for more money than a comparable well certified autographed 8X10 picture, or even a complete, Rosa Parks signed document! There is no reason why a cut signature integrated into a little trading card should be more desirable than a complete signed document or an autographed picture, but such is the nature of the hobby nowadays. This is overlooking the fact that Rosa Parks cards in a sports card pack begs the question; WTF does this have to do with sports, anyway? Here are a couple tips that I've found have really helped me enjoy the hobby again:1) Do it for fun. Yes, people always preach this axiom about collecting, but it's easy to get caught up in the "value" of everything. Don't worry about that shit. The only "value" you need to know can be had with an ebay completed auctions search. If you want the card, buy it. If not, don't. Pay no mind to what it will be worth in the future, because by all indicators, it likely won't be much. 1) Stay away from packs. Seriously. They're a roulette wheel that pays 4-1 if you hit your number. Just an enormous suckers game. 2) Have focus. Understand what players you want to go after (as far as players from the past or players of today) and go after them. Don't waste your time with "trade bait" or buying crap that you don't want. 3) Think back to the players you enjoyed as a kid and consider collecting them. Right now, cards from the 70's, 80's and early 1990's are in the absolute doldrums of pricing. This presents great opportunities for people who lived in this era and remember those players fondly (and also remember how much some of these cards used to sell for). To give you an idea: I'm pretty much 100% complete as far as having every major baseball rookie card from 1970-1993 and it hasn't cost me that much. 4) Lay in for a stock of supplies up front. I decided to go with Pro Mold PC1 snap tites sheathed in team set bags for all my cards and ultra pro 1/4" recessed screwdowns for anything with a sale value above $200. Toploaders in penny sleeves are fine (and cheaper) too. Having a decent stock of supplies on hand will make your collecting life easier. 5) Make lists of what you have, what you paid and what you need. Card collecting can be overwhelming- the better handle you have on it, the more you will enjoy it. That's all. consider this your subscription to my newsletter.