I just received a preview copy of a new book slated for release this spring that could get the hobby talking again.
It's called "Mint Condition", written by Dave Jamieson, a young but exceptional writer who has authored pieces for Slate, New Republic and the Washington City paper. The book's subtitle is "How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession".
"Mint Condition" will be about 250 pages and I'd categorize what I've read so far as sort of a hobby history book but it's also very relevant to some of the hot topics of today like card doctoring, shill bidding, card company lawsuits and the high dollar world of card grading.
Jamieson interviews a number of high profile dealers and specialists to get their take on how the baseball card hobby rose from a kids domain to a multi-billion dollar industry and on to its current state.
He goes inside a grading company and describes the process in some detail. He visits with Kevin Saucier, who describes some of what can be done to alter cards--even re-backing.
He talks about the hobby's beginnings, the impact of Mastro Auctions, the rise and fall of the card shop and talks ethics with REA's Rob Lifson. There are chapters on how the more well-known card companies got their starts and early pioneers like Jefferson Burdick.
I'll be spending part of Christmas week reading the rest and later this winter, when the publisher is ready, we'll try to go one-on-one with the author. What I've read so far is interesting--even if most hobby insiders probably are familiar with some of the topics and issues discussed. For average collectors or those who have been waiting for a good book on the hobby, I think it'll be something to grab. In fact, a quick check of Amazon.com showed me you can already pre-order the book via this link.