When I was a kid, I collected sports cards. Football and baseball, mostly, but through trading and "flipping" at school, I ended up with some basketball and hockey cards, too. I wish I still had some of those late 70s basketball cards.
But I digress.
Collectable cards have been a part of sports for decades, and even though the market seems to have slowed a bit, I don't see it stopping any time soon. That makes this news even more interesting.
Powell's Books has introduced collectable author cards. The set of 16 cards is available for a limited time when you purchase one of Powell's featured titles. The cards are full color and look very nice.
It's an interesting concept. Most people have their favorite authors just like sports fans have their favorite teams and players. Some even have favorite positions. My collection of hockey goalie cards is growing fast enough that I need to get a bigger box. Now readers can collect cards of their favorite authors - as long as they are in this set of 16, of course.
I can see it now - 2010 will mark the debut of the Topps Author Cards series. You can collect authors by publisher or genre. Sought-after "insert cards" will feature cover shots of an author's first published book. Imitating the "game-used" phenomena, you'll be able to get author cards with pieces of manuscript paper embedded in the card (an extra premium card will have actual writing on the MS scrap).
Upper Deck will come out with a card set for each genre of fiction. The science fiction insert set will include cards with fragments of Robert Heinlein's typewriter ribbon, or Isaac Asimov's manuscript paper. The Fantasy set would include autographs by some of the big names in fantasy, but the must-have subset will be the three-card Lord of the Rings Cover set, with selected cards autographed by Tolkien's son.
Both companies will feature a Rookie Update set with cover art from upcoming first books. As the books increase in sales, special Rookie Cards of the authors will be included, showing the writer holding up the contract for their first book. And you know someone will start manufacturing agent cards.
One day, third-graders will be swapping author cards: "I've got a Stephen King MS card. I'll trade it to you for your Holly Lisle cover card." "I just pulled an Asimov Historic Covers card! Look that up in Beckett's for me!"