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Card Sharks: How Upper Deck Turned a Child's Hobby into a High-Stakes, Billion-Dollar Business

Pete Williams

28 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0026290618 / ISBN 13: 9780026290616
Published by Macmillan General Reference, 1995
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Ergodebooks (RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Card Sharks: How Upper Deck Turned a Child's...

Publisher: Macmillan General Reference

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

About this title


Taking the reader from the birth of sports cards in the 1880s to the present, Williams investigates the success in the shady world of baseball cards. At the center of the industry is Upper Deck, the largest manufacturer, with sales of over $260 million each year. Williams exposes how the power brokers in the game of baseball have changed this once-innocent hobby forever.

Published in 1995 when Williams was a writer and columnist for USA Today Baseball Weekly, Card Sharks has been frequently cited by other authors and remains the definitive investigative look into the trading card business.

From the Inside Flap:

Sports cards were invented in the 1880s when tobacco tycoon James Buchanan Duke thought of putting a piece of cardboard in cigarette packs to prevent them from getting crushed in shipping. The cards served as free advertising space and premiums to boost sales.

Things have changed in 110 years. No longer a premium for another product, sports cards are the product. And a hot one at that. More than 10 million Americans collect sports cards, hoping one day to reap their "investment" benefits. How has the sports card industry, specifically the baseball card market, become a billion-dollar business in the past five years?

Pete Williams, who has covered major league baseball and sports memorabilia for USA Today Baseball Weekly since 1991, has the perfect vantage point on what's caused this explosive success in the shaky and shady world of sports cards. His gripping narrative takes us from the birth of trading cards to the present, when the buying and selling of cards has become everyman's stock market. At the center of the industry is the Upper Deck Company. Once a one-man shop in Anaheim, California, it has grown into the largest manufacturer of sports cards, with sales of 1 billion since 1990. Along the way, Upper Deck has revolutionized the trading card business by introducing a stunning array of wildly designed cards with incredible action photos, ultraviolet coating, and holograms to prevent counterfeiting. Williams's account is the first solid investigative look at what goes on at Upper Deck and he reveals the tactics its owners use to dominate the trading card market.

This book is a fascinating investigation of yet another facet of sports that has lost its innocence at the hands of greedy power brokers. But it's not just a story about sports; it's an absorbing tale about business, the costs of always going for the quick buck, and the way commercialism has seeped into every part of our society. Card Sharks will have you marveling at what this once-simple child's hobby has become.

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