Although reading online articles is a great way to delve deeper into the hobby, there's still something to be said about curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee (or perhaps something a little stiffer on those extra-cold winter nights). Here are ten must-have books that belong on every collector's shelf, Kindle or iPad.
10 Must-Have Books About Sports Cards
by Stephen LaRoche and Jon Waldman
Lists make for great reads, particularly ones that are well thought out and entertaining. Stephen Laroche and Jon Waldman do both with Got 'Em, Got 'Em, Need 'Em. Not only do they give an in-depth countdown of their picks for the top 100 cards of all-time, but they also include several side articles on things like the hobby, collecting and the worst cards ever made. Printed in April, 2011, it's also one of the most current sports card books on the market.
by Michael O'Keeffe and Teri Thompson
If you're looking for a happy story where the hobby is shown to be all rainbows and Kumbaya campfire songs, you're not going to find it in The Card. The controversial book, written by Michael O'Keeffe and Teri Thompson, looks at the history of the T-206 Honus Wagner and delves into the questionable legitimacy of the most famous of the Wagner's -- the one once owned by Wayne Gretzky and Bruce McNall. Half mystery, half editorial, the book is an entertaining and charged read no matter which side you believe.
by Dave Jamieson
Charting the history of baseball cards, Dave Jamieson goes all the way back to the hobby's roots through to the very recent past. Written in such a way that anyone could enjoy, even non-collectors, Mint Condition is an informative ad breezy read that goes by quickly.
by Bob Lemke
For me, this is the bible of baseball card collecting. Full checklists and background information for thousands and thousands of sets, it's my go-to resource when I need very specific information. We're not talking about just mainstream sets either. Bob Lemke is constantly updating the extensive catalog as new sets are uncovered. While there are places to find modern card information online, this book is exhaustive for everything up to 2010. Because new editions come out regularly, you may be able to get away with a clearance copy of an older version, particularly if all you want is checklist information and insert odds.
by Pete Williams
Charting the meteoric rise of Upper Deck from a start-up to a hobby king, no hobby book is in need of an update more than Pete Williams' Card Sharks. Printed in 1995, it is now out of print, although used copies can be picked up easily. Although Williams charts Upper Deck's history, he's also documenting how the hobby went from an innocent child's pastime to a billion-dollar industry. Like The Card, the hobby is always portrayed in the best light, but that's part of the history.
by Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris
Another book with several editions, The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book dates back to 1973 and could be credited as being the first book to reflect on baseball card collecting, much like may hobby bloggers do today. Boyd and Harris do a great job of conveying what makes sports cards so much fun and innocent. It's perfect for those looking for a kick of hobby nostalgia.
by John Gall and Gary Engel
Largely a visual guide to Japanese baseball cards, Sayonara Home Run! also has profile snippets of several of the country's biggest stars from the past. Although the history is interesting, the real draw here is the stunning card pictures that show a totally different side of the hobby. It's unfortunate that these designs aren't more iconic to the broader hobby so that they might be recycled like a lot of the old Topps and tobacco designs are.
by Tom Zappala and Ellen Zappala
Published in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the classic set, The T206 Collection isn't merely a collection of photographs. It offers stats and bios for the nearly 400 players who were included in the set. The result is a book that brings collectors closer to the players and the cards many are still chasing today.
by John Bloom
Should anyone decide to teach a university course in baseball cards, chances are that A House of Cards will be on the reading list. While most hobby books are told in a light-hearted way, John Bloom takes a more academic approach. Targeting both collectors and non-collectors, the book may be a little to heavy for some. Reading it, I wondered if Bloom himself was a collector. Agree with the arguments or not, A House of Cards should make most collectors think.
by Josh Wilker
Part memoir, part cardboard history, Josh Wilker connects with his heroes from the 1970s to make sense of life. Starting out as a blog, Wilker's honest and often funny writing shines. The book combines nostalgia, personal reflections and player profiles all into one great read.