Thursday, December 18, 2014

Penny Pincher's Guide to Collecting DVDs and Blurays

thrifty mcgoose
(Yes I am a fine artist)
If you are an avid movie fan or a film buff but working with a limited budget, here are some tips that may become handy. Many of these tips can also be applied to collecting books, music or whatsoever. Cycling these tips you can get more bang for the buck and build a nice library without having to spend an arm and a leg. In this way you can also save money for limited editions or never-on-discount titles. But remember that sometimes it is also preferable to buy some full price DVDs to support your favourite artists and merchants! 

Sale Bins of Supermarkets and Retail Stores

Because the shelf space is limited in brick and mortar stores, the shelf life of a movie is short. Already after two or three months it is usual that the prices are lowered 20-30%. And with more time passing even more discounts are given. Usually there are also some individual copies, that get some crazy discounts (70% or more). That way you can get relatively new movies without paying too much. Remember that a good movie will still be a good movie for a long time after being published! 

Discount Campaigns of Supermarkets or Stores 

Usually around seasonal holidays there are discount campaigns that can be useful. Also use discount coupons if available! Sometimes there are discounts for spending a fixed sum such as "Get $20 off for Spending $100" so you can save money by combining your purchases. But remember to compare the prices on nearby stores! 

Online Stores

Similar to retail stores, except sometimes they offer extra discount to regular customers, and may also have some flash discount campaigns. Some stores give you more discounts the more you buy, so combine your orders for maximum advantage and minimum delivery costs.

Video Rental Stores 

Some video rental stores sell their surplus or older movies at very cheap prices. Video stores may be like a treasure chest, it is usual to find out-of-print movies or rare movies. But be prepared to having to browse through lots of obscure direct-to-video trash (if you aren't interested in that kind of stuff). You can get extra discount for buying 3, 5 or 10 movies. Remember to check the discs for scratches though (some video stores may polish the small scratches for free or at low cost). 

Thrift Stores and Discount Stores

Thrift stores and discount stores may also be good places to find movies, it is also common that you can get for example three or more DVDs for $10. Usually their selections may contain older blockbusters, classic films, or cartoons. 

Garage Sales of Flea Markets

Garage sales may be good places find good stuff, the prices are usually dirt cheap because the sellers just want to get rid of their extra stuff. You can also haggle. Compared to these, flea markets may be more expensive because the sellers have to pay for renting the selling space. Still the prices are usually good, and the selection may contain some hard-to-find or out-of-print treasures. Remember to check the discs for scratches (this is especially important if you buy cartoons or kids' movies). See that there aren't any missing discs (because you do not want to end up buying an empty DVD-case). Also: be sure to see that the DVDs are not pirated copies. Imported DVDs should be checked for subtitles, dubbing and region code. This is especially important for world cinema or Asian movies. 

Online Auctions (eBay or similar sites) 

Usually they have a large selections, but the prices may vary from dirt cheap to plain robbery. It is also harder to check the quality of the item that is being sold. So it is preferable to buy from trusted sellers or to check the feedback from other customers. Also check the delivery costs, you can sometimes save money by combining orders from the same seller.

DVD Box Sets

DVD box sets can be useful to getting a bunch of similarly themed movies at a moderate cost. However they are not always the cheapest way. Sometimes buying individual titles may be more economical! Also you may end up having duplicates. So always calculate the cost per item first. 

There are also publishers who pack a lot of movies to big box sets. There are usually a wide range of bad films and good films, so you always have to estimate if buying the pack is reasonable. There are also box sets of public domain movies that are at very low prices. However the print qualities are usually bad and the movies are packed two or more movies per DVD side (often on double sided DVDs). Two movies per side may still be watchable but stay clear of box sets that announce having 10 movies on 3 discs unless they are very short movies! The picture quality will be worse than watching VHS-cassette that has been overwritten a dozen times. 

For example Mill Creek Entertainment has box sets of 50 public domain movies on 12 DVDs (double sided discs), with many different genres (horror, scifi, comedy, musicals, westerns, peplums...). The print qualities (as well as the movies) range from good to bad, but often there are many movies that are not published elsewhere. So for fans of genre movies these boxes can be a goldmine. Some compromises have been done so be aware that the films are usually dubbed to English or have the aspect ratio reduced to 4:3. So you have to decide yourself it the box sets are worth buying or not. Personally I find these box sets useful, for having many good but rather unknown films and also many "so bad they are good"- cult films. 

From Your Friends 

Sometimes your friends or acquaintances may have to get rid of their old stuff. Sometimes they may sell you their DVDs for a small and/or fixed price. 

Bonus tip (and something I should remember also!)

Do a list of your collection or missing titles (especially important in the case of film series). Otherwise you will end up having multiple copies!
You do not want this to happen!

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