"Card Sharks is the full-length expose we'd been waiting for. It will make you sick. But a good kinda sick; sicker but wiser. Williams provides 270 pages of details on perhaps the sports industry's ultimate insult to modern America."
- Phil Mushnick, The New York Post
"A disturbing tale"
- The Bergen (NJ) Record
"A well-researched, well-written look at the cardboard industry, from both historical and ethical standpoints - and Williams certainly does dig up the dirt."
- New York Newsday
"A dim look into Upper Deck and some of its business practices"
- The Orange County (Calif.) Register
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.
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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.