by Ryan Friedman
Any collector involved with the hobby over the last few decades has a bookshelf, a closet, a room filled with various auction catalogs from numerous sports memorabilia companies. Back in the days prior to the Internet, the only way to participate in an auction was to register by phone/mail and get your auction catalog in the mail.
The auction catalog served two purposes; your guide to bidding and as a great reference tool post auction. These catalogs were filled with pages of images and description of the great memorabilia, cards and autographs. There have been some amazing auction catalogs produced, some of which would even be considered collectibles themselves (Think Barry Halper Collection 1999).
However, times have changed. The Internet and technology have made such great advances over the years that it's possible we will see the end of the printed auction catalog very soon.
Why? Because for most, there is no longer a need for them. With the Internet, the interactive web sites, and e-mail the whole purposes of a printed auction catalog is no longer as valid and useful as it once was.
Here are some facts to keep in mind if you're skeptical.
1. 95% of auction companies clients are registered with a e-mail address, own a computer, and place bids and view auction items over the Internet. This means the auction companies can distribute auction information to clients much faster and much cheaper.
2. Interactive web version of auction catalogs (Zmags) offer everything and more that a printed catalog can’t and can be accessed by more than 95% of all of the auction company clients.
3. The evolving technologies of Smart Phones, Tablet PC’s, Netbooks, and Notebooks continue to make it easier to access any and all auction information 24/7.
4. All of the information that is contained in a printed catalog is also produced with more detail and more information on every auction company's website in real time.
5. The auction companies can save ten of thousands of dollars in costs of a printed catalog and save weeks of production time, which in return, could lower consignment fees and lower buyer premiums for collectors.
6. From a reference standpoint, the post auction results are 1000 times easier to access via the Internet (searchable with prices realized) in comparison to flipping through piles of catalogs trying find what you were looking for with no closing prices listed.
I am not saying that this is going to happen overnight, but you will see that the death of the auction catalog is coming before you know it. It's a trend that began with newspapers and magazines, which have seen their readership decline rapidly over the past ten years as 'eyeballs' moved online.
I must point out that Huggins & Scott Auctions is even offering $50.00 in auction credit by opting out of receiving their printed catalog. It's an incentive you will likely see spreading among other companies soon.
It's been a bit harder duplicate the experience of sitting in a favorite chair or lying in bed paging through a catalog but the new devices are even making that possible.
And you don't have to worry about your favorite pages falling out.
Ryan Friedman is the editor of Auction Report (www.auctionreport.com)
a premier web site for news coverage and information on the top auction companies, dealers, and authentication services in the sports memorabilia and sports card business. Look for his column here each week.