What's For Sale - and What You Can Sell:
Buying and Selling Formats:
Ask a representative sampling of collectors about eBay and you are likely to receive the entire spectrum of feelings in return. Love it or hate it, the industry leader in online auctions has dramatically transformed the hobby of sports cards.
More sports cards change hands via eBay than by any other method, and it exerts more influence on their actual values - from realized sales as opposed to book values - than any other force. The listings in the Sports Memorabilia, Card and Fan Shop run the gamut from single cards to unopened packs and boxes to mixed lots of cards, and they cover all eras.
It's quick and easy for buyers to register and costs nothing to create an account. Selling cards will cost you money: an insertion fee that depends on the starting price (or reserve price) for the item, and a final value fee that is charged when the item sells and varies with the closing price. If the item goes unsold, there is no final value fee.
The big advantage of buying sports cards on eBay is the unparalleled selection. Just about any card one can imagine can be found on the site - if not at the current time, then at some point in the future. The vast amount of sales means plenty of information to search to make sure you pay a fair price, and competitive pressure helps create some good deals.
On the flip side, there's an inherent trust issue that comes from comes from buying directly from other collectors (though many companies, dealers and stores sell on eBay too). The site takes steps to prevent fraud and has an extensive feedback system, but long-time users will be quick to tell you these measures aren't perfect. It behooves buyers to study up before bidding and be wary of anything that seems too good to be true.
For sellers, eBay's big strength is the audience it delivers. Posting cards for sale on the site can expose them to scores of potential buyers, more than any other site can boast. It's also helpful that eBay owns PayPal, the most widely used electronic payment service and a powerful tool for sellers.
There are disadvantages too, including the ever-changing system of fees. eBay's large user base also creates a buyer's market for everything but truly rare items, and cards can sell for surprisingly low prices if there are many other similar ones listed.
With millions of collectors using eBay every day, it certainly doesn't hurt to be familiar with it. If nothing else, it's a quick and easy way to identify trends in the hobby.