An Open Letter to Beckett

Dear Beckett,

 My name is Scott Brown. I have been a sports card collector since I was a child. I began to spend serious money in the hobby in the late 80s early 90s which included your magazine.

In fact, I have purchased hundreds of your magazines over the decades and I still have them stored in my my man cave:

Beckett Magazine Collection

I have supported you for over 30 years, and am one reason why you became the large company you are presently.

I still purchase your print magazines through my LCS. I know you have a large presence online as well, but with the bulky and user-unfriendly nature of your website, I have avoided paying for that.

My online presence in the hobby came about when I discovered the great website Zistle. It was simple to use, and although quite time-consuming to add your collection to, was interested in rewarding you for your hard work. Rewards included badges and statistics and most importantly an automated trade manager. It took your hard work and translated into matches with other users who wanted your duplicates in exchange for their duplicates. It made trading an easy and enjoyable experience.

Zistle Front Page

You saw Zistle grow from a small insignificant site to a more attractive site to use than your own. It allowed users to contribute to the database and the reward was that they could use the site for free. How could you compete with that? You couldn’t it seems. Not only did Zistle offer a better service at no cost, but they managed to convince COMC to let them use their images on the their site as well.

Perhaps the fact that COMC, a company you sued in the past and lost to, allowed Zistle to use its images was a motivation to make Zistle the next website you would send your lawyers after.

Where COMC had the resources to fight your suit, Zistle did not. They eventually caved to your aggression and let themselves be bought out. 

Some took this event as another sign that Beckett has no care for hobby other than what it affects their bottom line. Beckett was mentioned again and again in various forums as the big bully picking on smaller entities.

I was also of this mode of thinking. But as the reality began sinking in, that Beckett now owned the best cataloging and trading site on the internet, I thought perhaps Beckett, with its larger resources, could push Zistle to the next level. Where the previous owners set up Zistle to be not only a database of cards, and a site that simplifies trading, it also had the infrastructure to list card pricing. But it did not have the resources to use this infrastructure in a meaningful way. Pricing was far from accurate. This is where Beckett could shine. Using its own pricing on Zistle would put Zistle in a great position to be the greatest website for sports cards in the industry. Beckett also has a larger card catalog database than Zistle. If Beckett added all the cards and sets that Zistle is missing then Zistle would shine even brighter

If you are a true fan of the hobby that you purported to be back in the time when Dr. Beckett ran the magazine, but now seems to be a distant memory, you would give Zistle users specifically, and sports card collectors in general, a site that takes the advantages of Zistle with the pricing and massive set lists of Beckett, and create the best site the hobby has ever seen.

I can just imagine the ease of use of Zistle, with the more accurate pricing and expanded set lists of Beckett, in a site that allows users to trade any and all cards. They can see whether these trades have similar book values rather than just numerical equality. The would have no need to update there card inventory as Zistle does this automatically with each completed trade.

You would be able to get a more accurate value of your collection both for personal satisfaction as well as for insurance purposes. 

It sometime became tedious to add missing cards to the Zistle database so that you could add them to your collection. With the more complete set lists from Beckett this problem would be eliminated. We would just need to add the cards to our personal collection not to the database. The numerous duplicate sets on Zistle could be eliminated with Beckett’s catalog.

This new site would be the perfect collecting site. It would have everything any collector would want.

You have owned Zistle for months now without any communication on what will be done with the site. Many users who have been with Zistle for years have left the site because it can’t be updated with the most recent card sets. Why not let us know what you plan to do with the site? If you plan to eliminate Zistle, I think that would be a bad idea unless you gave the hobby something very similar which they could use at a reasonable cost. Otherwise, some other group will reinvent Zistle in another form, and you would be back to where you started.

Listen to me with the best of your abilities. Expand and better Zistle. Do not eliminate it. You now own the Golden Goose, use it to better the hobby for all collectors and you will be rewarded.

Thank you for listening,

The Ignorant Intellectual
a.k.a. Scott Brown

Zistle: A Fun Way to Trade

Zistle Front Page

Zistle Front Page

Anyone who collects cards for a hobby and wants a place to catalog their collection has probably come across Zistle in the last few years. Hands down, it is the best at doing this out of all the different cataloging sites online. So much so that Beckett, in order to try and keep its share in the marketplace has sued Zistle for theft of its checklists (read the article).

Beckett did a similar thing with COMC and lost, and hopefully, in this writer’s opinion, the same result will happen for Zistle. One of the great features of Zistle, if you decide to spend a small amount annually on the upgrade to Zistle Gold is the feature called Trade Manager.

Trade Manager

Trade Manager

After you have cataloged your collection, and put in all the cards you want but don’t have,  you can use  the Trade Manager to find matches with others on the site. It shows how many cards they want of your extras, and how many of their cards you want of their extras. You initiate the trade, select the cards you want and cards you will give and Trade Manager sends a message to the other party.

Trade Recommendations

Trade Recommendations

Trade Manager lists all the best matches between you and other traders, lists all your active trades and at what stage in the process the trade has advanced to (trade proposed, trade accepted, counter proposal offered, trade rejected, cards in the mail and more).

Active Trades

Active Trades

Once a trade has competed, Trade Manager adds it to the completed trades list on bottom part of the page.

Completed Trades

Completed Trades

Out of all the sites, I have found trading on Zistle to be the most fun with the least hassle. One drawback is the need to use a mouse click for every card you choose to add on either side. If the trade involves hundreds of cards it adds up to a lot of clicking. Once the owners of Zistle finish with Beckett’s suit, perhaps they will think of a better and less time-consuming way to add cards to trade proposals. Until then, I will persevere.