Cory hit the nail on the head there. I use Beckett as a trade guide, or as a "replacement value" guide as far as Insurance goes. If someone is familiar with the hobby I would assume they have enough info from ebay, COMC, etc. as far as actual sell values are concerned.
I don't think most "collectors" could function w/o a price guide to hold their hand. I started collecting in 1978 and didn't even acknowledge a price guide until someone showed me a monthly Beckett in 1988. Before then, we traded based on what the people actually needed/wanted and when it came to buying, if the price seemed OK, I bought it. If it seemed too high, I didn't!
I will refer back to one interesting time on this site where I priced up something from a boxed set and the potential buyers response was one of shock and disbelief that I would want so much for a card "worth" X. Needless to say, that transaction didn't happen and it was as much me as it was the potential buyer. I wouldn't have sold to that person even if they had accepted my original price after that.
Point being, the guides have become a necessary crutch. Most shops, sellers and traders won't act on anything w/o getting a price first, period! This is especially true of new issues, where (and I have talked about this before) people wait to price it until after Beckett prices it, yet Beckett supposedly prices based on market activity??? How did they come up with a price if nobody was selling until they printed a price???
Back in 1988 dealers sold at high bv and bought at either low book or at some percentage of high book. Now retail is less then 50% of bv. Not sure what the best way to judge value is these days. Im actually not sure how triple threads go so cheap on ebay, major hits, selling for under $20, when a 2 pack box costs $175. Why buy boxes? When you could buy your favorite card on ebay for a fraction of bv and your guartanteed to get the card you want. Paying $175 to try and get some 1/1 few people care enough about to pay $3,000, Id rather try a different sort of gambling.
i have been saying for years and years, that ebay i the "new" beckett. it was a great run for beckett, but i think its time has come to ride of into the sunset. i say this because why would i want to reference beckett, which price guide is probably 30 days old by time it hits my mailbox, when i can log onto ebay and get "current" values of what cards are "really" selling for, versus a price guide that by time it goes to print cant be outdated or not "realistic current" prices. just my 2 cents worth.
Personally I think you have to use all sources when buying or selling cards. Beckett’s, eBay and any other resources you can find be they Amazon, or some of the card shops that sell on line too, that way you can cat a “flavor” of the value. One thing Beckett’s does do is allows you to adjust for card grade. I know we want to think that all of our cards are mint and one of a kind but in reality we also know that s not true. But that’s where this group comes in handy where we have to be honest on what we represent in the trade.
But just like when you buy gas, you look for the closets and cheapest station, so goes the same or selling/buying cards look for the best deal and shop around. Know the price you want to spend or sell at and see what the market will bare.