Tuesday, February 12, 2013

PURGING & DOWNSIZING - Part 2 (Or The Death Of The DVD)

As I was cleaning the past several weeks I knew that the amount of DVDs that I had would have to be downsized as well. I had well over 1,200 DVDs in my collection. It was massive and well-rounded. I haven't looked at a DVD nor actually placed a disc in a player in about two years. They used to be "the thing" but since digital had taken over and I could place hundreds of movies on one hard drive, why would I keep the actual discs anymore. DVDs like comics, toys, music CDs, etc. multiply like rabbits and it can get away from you. If I wanted to watch a DVD it was also problematic as they were all in tupperware containers. They were in order previously but when they got placed back in the tupperwares through the subsequent yard sales I did this past fall, they got all mixed up and out of order. So to find a specific movie was a pain in the ass if you wanted to watch it.

My DVD collection started in late 1998 or so. Maybe it was 1997. I had gotten my first player and for Christmas my mother had gotten me Dr. No and Goldfinger as a gift. My collection had started with James Bond. Now I was also one of those that watched EVERYTHING on the DVD. I loved it all. I loved the commentary tracks and would wind up keeping movies I was so-so about just because the commentaries were so good. Robert Rodriguez still does the best commentaries for his films (along with his 10-minute film schools he does). The El Mariachi/Desperado double disc is still tremendous. I didn't think about how long the DVD would really last in terms of longevity. I do remember the change from vinyl records to CDs was a kick in the ass as you had to go buy everything you liked over again. I figured like most people that DVD's would be around for quite some time and if you kept them in perfect shape, you could resell them later on and maybe make a little something... weeeeeelllllll, that reality was not to happen. Prepare for some reality, my fine readers... as the announcer on the classic Batman TV Series would say, "The worst is yet to come."

Do you like my little Photoshopped pic? I think it works well. To begin though I feel like I should first relate the changes in technology over the past 12 year or so. If you look back to around 1997-98 and look at now, you'd have to agree that this techological boom over the last decade is the fastest that it has ever moved. I remember back in the early 1997 I was buying mp3s of old time radio shows off of eBay. You'd get the CD (DVD-Rs were not around then) and you then had to play the files on your computer or covert the files out to WAV files and then burn them onto CD-Rs so that you could play them on any player or in your car. I used to get 6 episodes of The Adventures of Superman onto one CD-R since each show was around 15 minutes. I then would burn 53 (as I recall) more CDs so that I had the first 325 shows on disc that I was easily able to listen to without being in front of the computer. I would burn CDs for several favorite shows but this large amount of one show was rare. It worked great for a while and you wished that they made a player you could play them on that was mobile. As it would happen, a few years later, Apple released the iPod. Still the greatest thing they ever released to my mind. I had spent $400 and gotten the 20GB iPod and loaded it up. Man, it was great and lasted for over four years and kept going! It was built like a tank and even if you dropped it accidentally onto a soft surface it was fine. They made them solid back then. All that content at your fingertips in a handheld device! We move along to eight years later and I now have an iPod Classic that holds 120GB of music, videos, etc and it's got around 1.9GB of free space left! Plus, now it was almost half the price of the original one I bought! An entire collection of entertainment that fit into the palm of my hand. Incredible! I'm amazed at it still. I gave away my old one to someone who couldn't afford one of the newer models as a gift and it's probably still going strong.

Now let's look at the computer, which has improved in speed and memory over the decade. I have four computers here now: two towers and two laptops. Over the course of this decade we went from CD-R to DVD-R to thumbdrives (or flashdrives) to external hard drives which only improved! Incredible. Technology is moving fast! I remember in 2005 when I was working on Strawberry Shortcake and my system crashed. I had only one computer at that time. I wasn't able to retrieved the work and so I had to redo my audition art over again. It was the worst feeling in the world laying in bed at night and looking up to the ceiling knowing that the files were lost. I then vowed never to have it happen again. I didn't lose much that I really needed, just the work files for Strawberry so it wasn't like I lost old photos and what not but it was stressful regardless. I then went out and bought spindles of CD-Rs (sometimes a CD-RW pack, but I didn't like to keep adding to them for fear that they would fail on me at one time and one did). You could go get CD-Rs on sale in packs of 50 or 100. When they had a big sale on them at CompUSA in Wilmington, Delaware (no longer around) I would buy 6 to 8 spindles and store them away. Every night I would burn a new CD before I turned off the computer or went to bed. If I felt like I was afraid to lose something I simply threw a CD-R in the drive and burned the files over. So by doing that you'd then get a stack of CDs that would quickly build up and sit next to my monitor. I never did lose anything again. Why go to bed in fear when you could have peace of mind for only .60 cents a day? Actually they broke down to even cheaper at the end. I would burn and consolidate all the work onto CD-Rs and store them once the final work was done and submitted. So needless to say I had a lot of them. I used to make up CD cover art and label it all and then store them in the right environment.

And then the CD-R and its 700MB weren't enough and the DVD-R had come on the scene! DVDs could hold whole movies and extras so this was a logical progression and now you had a 4.7GB recordable DVD that could hold the same amount of data that was originally on 4-5 CDs. So I used them for about 2-3 years. Then came the Flashdrive (or thumbdrive as many started calling it since it was basically the size of your thumb) and they would hold at least 1GB of data on them. The ones I still have here are basically 4GB and 8GB ones. I do have one that holds 16GB! But now even those sit in a little tin next to the computer monitor. I just counted them and I have seven. Flashdrives were so "in" that even DC Comics gave out their own thumbdrives to freelancers one Christmas as the yearly gift in 2008. It had their logo on it. I still have mine in the original box as I didn't need to use it as I had plenty here, but more and more artists were submitting their work digitally over actually mailing it to the company. I now only use my flashdrives for little file transfers if I'm moving between one computer to another here. Already out of date and relagated to doing small file transfers if that. Also, I might add, that while these little flashdrives were taking over, the CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R shelfs at stores like Best Buy were getting smaller and smaller. Phased out to barely nothing for a few people who needed them. The CDs on the shelves must have felt like the VHS tapes and audio tapes of old that used to sit there. You can see the techological shift happen at a store level if you remember what Best Buy was like when it first opened to now. Now they aren't even the place for best buys. Amazon.com has been kicking it's ass mostly.

Next came the external hard drive. The logical advance from the flashdrive with even more space though they were fairly pricey. They started at 320GB and quickly moved to 500GB and then to 1 whole TB. Most people didn't even know what a Terrabyte was let alone how big it was, nor how anyone could possibly fill one up. Then it went from 1.5TB to 2TB to 3TB! Now at the beginning of 2013 they are making 4TB external hard drives! I mostly have 2TBs that I use and filling them is not an issue. I have used external hard drives exclusively now for the past four years. Once I got my first drive set up and finalized with data I would then back it all up again onto yet another drive. If it was really important stuff I just couldn't lose, I would make a third drive. Insane to some but that is essentially what our lives will now be, migrating and transferring data from one format to another till we die. Life is one big backup. But man, look at all the physical space this stuff saves! I have my hard drives on one small bookshelf and that's it. They do multiply but not as fast as the physical media ever used to. You may ask if I use any cloud services and I currently do not. I hear mixed reports about them and if they fail and lose your data somehow one day they are not liable for losing it, plus having any kind of personal data on some strange server somewhere just reeks of Big Brother or some kind of privacy compromise.

With DVD, if you rip one and convert it to digital, the best you will ever get is 480p. That's it. Looks small on your computer if your monitor is set up at 1280x720, but if you play it on a 32"-46" TV through a media player, it looks great! If you know what you are doing with the conversion software you can increase the bitrate and size and take it up to 576p. But basically it's topped out at 480p. But now we have BluRay players and big screen TVs that offer 1080p! The biggest and the highest resolution... so far. BluRay discs when ripped can be converted to any size but the best is to keep them at 720p or 1080p. I think a good rule of thumb is to keep everything at the highest quality you can as it will last longer and still be viable as the technology changes over the coming years. You do find people who are "1080p or forget it".

As Blockbuster video shit the bed and NetFlix came on the scene, digital was fully taking over. Now NetFlix has more people streaming movies as opposed to actually mailing them physical discs to watch. Streaming is faster, there is no waiting nor company postal costs for mailing. A computer company named Apple now completely runs the entire music industry with iTunes as music companies who used to produce music and market it stood by and watched it slip from their grasp like sand slipping through their fingers and falling into a bucket named Apple. A computer company, who didn't even want to take over the music industry to begin with, now sat in the driver's seat and had to figure out how to go forward. And go forward they have. The previous music makers like Sony are now relegated to making and selling ringtones for a phone. And then Steve Jobs died and who knows where Apple will be in the coming years as SamSung and their Galaxy 3 are impressing many. So many that the iPhone may be in danger at some point. People can now stream full movies on their computers, iPads, and iPhones as the Internet speeds are getting faster and faster. Verizon FiOS is still the king of it right now, I don't care what Comcast advertises. The speed tests prove it. I've run more than enough of them from different places. For $10 more a month you can get 75mb on the download and 35mb on the upload. They have a faster service over that as well. If I had to move, it would definitely be to an area that had FiOS.

All this in 12-14 years or so...

So here I am in late 2012. August to be exact. I am selling DVD's out front of the house and gone now to several flea markets at local colleges and people all seem to be in the same boat. I see a lot of DVDs and CDs for sale.

DVDs are selling used, if you are lucky, for $1 a piece. Music CD's are 5 for $1.


I saw a guy selling the Avengers BluRay at one of the last flea markets I went to in October, still in the shrinkwrap, for $3.00. Either they fell off the back of the truck or they were used and reshrink wrapped, but they looked brand new to me. Yikes again!

Now I should remind you that I said all my DVDs were still in perfect shape. The discs were PERFECT. No scratches, fingerprints, stains, etc. as I take care of my stuff. If you've ever seen a previously-viewed DVD at Blockbuster you can see that the mongoloids that go there have no idea on how to hold a DVD. I've never bought a previously-owned DVD that looked like it was finger raped by some hanger on from the Stone Age. They always looked like they would never play in the player if you got them home.

For the last several weeks, I've talked and met with several sellers of used games and DVDs in the area. Music CDs have no resale value. None. Zip. Nada. I went to Booth's Corners Farmers Market a week ago and saw TONS of CDs for sale for $1 each in the back area where numberous stores were. Yikes again. The consensus is that DVDs are on borrowed time. Even the resellers of used ones are trying to make a go of it. Luckily through a lot of damn work I was able to sell about 1,000 or them over the course of two and a half weeks and made about $1 each on them. The ONLY reason I got that was because mine were perfect and clean.

Most places in my area right now are offering .50 a DVD. That's it. Take it or leave it. If you bring in a DVD that is scratched or looked like it went through a road trip in downtown Iraq, you'll get $.20.

Yes, I did just say twenty cents.

Hell, I even drove to New Jersey and Delaware to see if I could sell them there. No dice. Too many people are in the same boat as me. I tried pawn shops as well! Most pawn shops said they used to buy DVDs but that they had a hard time reselling them so now all of them in my area stopped buying DVDs a few years ago. Sheesh! I think I should have sold my collection four years ago. Even animated DVDs don't move as well. Parents aren't coming into the reseller stores and buying a couple DVDs cheap for their kids to watch. Even though it's cheaper than going to Target, they aren't buying them. I was told this by several sellers and that Disney movies sell ok, but not great (ala Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lilo and Stitch, etc) and all the superhero and other cartoon stuff (Batman The Animated Series, Scooby-Doo, Looney Tunes, Cartoon Network, Hanna-Barbera) doesn't move at all! They'd rather not have that kind of stuff and would rather deal in normal Hollywood films. Oh, Boy. That's not good. Yikes to the third power!

I sold the last big batch to a local reseller and he told me that as soon as I left to go get the other ones I had (as I had to make two trips to his store) he had three calls from guys trying to sell their DVDs. He was on the phone with one when I entered the store the second time. He said he told the others he wasn't buying right now. He said that he'd rather deal with me since my collection was so clean and I had a great variety of classics to newer stuff around 2009. I stopped buying DVDs back in 2009 for the most part. Plus, they were in a non-smoking home so they didn't reek of cigarette smoke. That's a deal killer too. So I gt the highest price. Not what I had in mind but it was better than if I waited another year to sell them.

Even trade in places like Amazon.com's Trade-In site will only offer you a small amount. I priced out some stuff and it's not worth the effort. AC/DC's album Back In Black will get you seven cents! Wow! If I sell their whole catalog of music I could buy a Happy Meal. It's more work to get the paperwork ready and to box it all up and they only give you Amazon credit that you can use in the end anyway. There are other Internet trade in places and I've looked at them all. It's not worth the effort on your part. If you're saying, "Why not try eBay, Scott?" Well, I've looked at that too and it's pretty grim. I had a complete set of Bill Cosby comedy CDs up for sale and they didn't go after three weeks. I kept the price low, but you keep spending money on relisting the auction each week. I've perused other auctions for different things that I could list and even if you bundle a bunch of Harrison Ford DVD movies you won't get much as well, though you will be getting rid of them faster you are selling in bulk by star or by genre. It's a tough deal. I've looked at many sites and they are all pretty much the same.

If you have Pirates of the Caribbean (any of the four films) and I don't care if it's the basic version of the deluxe edition, you'll be making $.20 cents! Yes, I said twenty cents again. You may ask why. Well let me tell you. It's because they sold MILLIONS of copies of the films. Everyone and their mother has one. If you have a movie that is only available on VHS as they never released it on DVD over the years, then yes, you can make a lot of money on the tape as it's a rare movie. And then I would sell it on eBay to get the most out f it. Otherwise, forget it. The more copies there are, the less you'll get. It's like selling comics or toys. Anything from 1980 to now is worth crap unless it's something unique. Like my original set of Indiana Jones toys from 1981 and 1984. If I was to buy a toy today for investment, it would be something from 1979 or much older in mint shape if I could find it. I still get offers to this day since I posted a pic of my Spider-Man Web Shooter from 1975! It's a easy big ticket item if I wanted to sell it since it's still mint in it's original packaging.

So let this be a lesson to those out there. Make sure you take care of your stuff and if you are have a lot of DVDs I suggest you dump them before they go any lower. It's not looking good. I did, in fact, keep about 6 tupperware containers of DVDs. Mostly just my favorite, favorite movies and stuff that was hard to get or could be collectable like my DVD box set from 2004 for the Spider-Man: The '67 Collection which has the complete set of Spider-Man cartoons from 1967. Still my favorite Spider-Man cartoon and the best thing to happen with the release of Spider-Man 2 back in 2004! These sets actually sell for quite a bit but I'll be holding on to mine.

Anyway, I was able to purge my DVD collection and to downsize a lot of space in the basement! It looks superb now, though I'm figuring out where to put the six tupperware containers with the remaining DVDs. I may get rid of the cases and keep the CDs in some kind of sleeves to condense it even more. Anything I think would be valuable down the line I'll keep in its original packaging, but I don't think any of it will be. They'll be using holograms next or something.

For a final note, let me add that you should be buying all this stuff for your own enjoyment and I have built my collections up as well because I've loved the stuff. And if you don't care about making money off them in the end when you really might have to sell them, then don't worry and keep collecting. Some people don't part with anything, but they're hoarders. But there will be a day, my non-hoarder friend, when you realize you just have too much stuff and if you aren't enjoying it like you once did because it's too hard to get to (or to find) and now you want to sell it and are expecting the American Pickers guys to now show up and pay good money, it won't be happening. Techonology is changing and leaving the old technology behind. If it's a book and out of print, it's still valuable as its in a media that will still be around. It's a book. People can pick it up and read it. DVDs and CDs will not be a platform that will be around forever. All this kind of media will be moving onto the next plateau as well at some point. Young college kids don't even own TVs unless to play video games on. They watch all their media on the computer or handheld devices. You may have to buy a DVD player (or any other media player you may like) and put the box in the closet and only open it in case of emergency when you can't buy one anymore as who knows how many people will have a DVD player in the future. Not many have VCRs now, and they were HUGE "back in the day"! DVD is still a good way to get your project out there to the masses, but as a resell, it's a bust. You might be better off donating it and using it as a write-off on your taxes. I do feel better that I did keep all my DVDs in their original cases since I got them. I've known friends who have bought a DVD and taken the disc and put it in one of those CD binders and then thrown the DVD case and cover art out! That's a worse spot to be in as you then won't find anyone who will buy a disc without a case. Resellers won't touch them.

There was a rule that when you bought a brand new car from the dealership and as soon as you drove it off the lot into the street you lost $3,000 off the top of the car if you drive it back in to resell it. If you go and buy a DVD and get back home and take the shrinkwrap off the $20 disc you bought, it's now worth only $2.00. Holy Depreciation, Batman! And we didn't take it out of the case yet!

Next up, was my music CD collection... if you though DVD reselling was hard, Music CDs are even worse... grab the vaseline and bend over. More soon!

1 comment:

Mary Bastian said...

Great write up Scott. I realy wish I knew you were selling DVD's, I would have loved to buy some. Even though I have a ton if digital media, I still buy DVD's seldomn but at a cheap price, I would still buy :) I envy your decision to downsize - they do take up a lot of room