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If there were a lot fewer people, Topps wouldn't have increased the print runs on many products by 40% over 2 years ago. I agree that if people lose thousands on a rookie card, they might get turned off to the hobby. But that's always been the reason to nay-say prospecting in general.
Looking for 2011 Topps Marquee Museum autographs, rare Frank Thomases, and any Grady Sizemores I don't have
I'm not a prospector, and I kind of hate it because it drives up the prices on most new release autographs to some degree. I don't see prospecting losing steam in the near future, maybe some day but I think for the next 5-10 years it's here to stay. I would prefer the hobby was collector driven with profits a tiny part of it but that just isn't how most things work.