Friday, December 28, 2007

Space Efficient DVD Storage

As the end of the year approaches, ones thoughts turn to the annual cleaning binge that comes just prior to the start of the year. While I'm not sure I'll be diving in and doing the old spit and polish on everything in my apartment since I already did it several months ago when I rearranged my furniture, there are bits of tidying that need to be taken care of.

The main case in point is our burgeoning DVD collection which had a bit of a burst of fertility over the holiday and outgrew our current storage space. I knew this day would soon be upon me (living in such a small Japanese apartment makes it inevitable) and I wanted to find a way to store some of our nearly 300 disc collection more efficiently. Mainly, I wanted to do somethin about the full-size cases with a single-disc in them. I don't know who decided it'd be a good idea to store one disc in a space large enough for 4 discs, but a bit of a reduction diet was in order if I didn't want my limited shelf space to overflow.

I considered buying slim cases for all the discs but the cost would end up being 100 yen per 3 cases and it'd only save me about half the space. Neither the expense nor the space savings of this solution were particularly attractive. I researched some methods on the web and they mainly involved carefully cutting up the inserts and putting the discs into slim CD cases. While this would be quite space efficient, I didn't want to destroy the inserts in this way because they often have chapter listings on them. Also, slim cases stored on their sides are almost impossible to label such that you can read their contents from a side view and I didn't want to have to riffle through stacks of discs to find the one I wanted.

Clear pockets, CD pockets, and a 36-ring binder (100 yen each at the Daiso).

The search was on for a method that'd preserve the full contents, store in an easy to peruse fashion, and cost as little as possible. After searching the local 100 yen shop for ideas and supplies, I came up with an album method which would cost 300 yen for every 36 discs and would preserve everything. This will give me future flexibility should someone leave about a hundred or so slim cases on my doorstep for free as I'll still have all the paperwork to restore the discs to their original appearance.

I chose a 36-ring binder so there would be uniform and constant support of the weight of the pockets holding 6 DVDs each. Though I think this was the best choice, lining up pockets with the rings was a huge pain in the ass. I interspersed clear document-holding pockets between the discs with the inserts and labeled the spines by genre. I debated alphabetically arranging them, but then I might have to rearrange the entire book every time a new disc arrived. I also think that it'll reduce the amount of searching necessary to find what we want as well as making it more convenient to thumb through and album based on mood.

The garbage bags show the discarded cases from the DVDs I put in albums. You can see how the small stack of albums would be vastly preferable to the huge number of cases if one were moving or paying shipping fees!

I didn't repackage all my DVDs, mind you. Some of them are in packaging which is already space-efficient and others are in special packaging that I wouldn't want to throw away. However, this worked extremely well and cleared up all our storage problems (at least for the time being). If you're cramped for shelf space, this is definitely the way to go if you've got a lot of DVDs.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if your dvd cases are like the jewel cases that cds come in, but if they are, you might find a school or childcare center that could use them one more time before being tossed out. The place I work is a non-profit that sells scraps and discards to people who use them as alternative art/craft supplies. The January winter break project will be making calendars/picture frames with re-assembled cd cases. This is the website for The Scrap Box with pictures:

mjgolli said...

What a fantastic idea! I have been debating what to do with my DVD collection as well, since I have tons of DVDs like yourself. I will admit that I have a 400 disc DVD player (Sony, of course) but it is not as convenient as one might imagine, in fact it is even less so. I have been debating selling it on eBay and just going back to my good old single disc DVD player.

But you really should have consulted the Ministry of Silly Walks for advice first. LOL! :)

From one Python fan to another...

Roy said...

Hi Shari,

I hope you don't mind me offering my opinion about your method but maybe you might find it useful. There are 2 reasons why I think your method may become an issue. The first reason is probably irrelevant for you though.

1. What if, in the future you decide to do some serious decluttering (a la lifehacker) and sell your DVD collection? I've done this 3 times in the past only to rebuild my collection up again everytime (yes, I'm stupid). I've been more successful with my CDs though. I had about 500CDs at one time and finally ripped them all into MP3s and sold them. Currently, I don't own a single CD! I stopped buying DVDs this year also because I only buy blu-ray now. I know that it will be sometime before hi-def becomes mainstream and lots of things I want will never be available (like TV shows etc) but I'm just one of those people that don't want to spend money on technology that's on its way out. Also, I can get a lot of money selling my DVDs. The last time I did it I got enough to buy my iMac.

2. DVDs like CDs don't last forever and contrary to popular belief, the label side deteriorates faster than the data side. I think because they put coating on the data side to protect it but not the label side. Many people have reported that CDs they bought started to deteriorate after 10 years or so. I think storing them in binders like you've done adds pressure to the discs which may speed up that degradation. If you store them vertically it might be better though. I have some CD Roms (games and software) which I stored in similar types of cases only to find that the labels eventually got stuck to the plastic.

mjgolli said...

I had to respond to Roy's suggestion #2. What he is saying is correct, DVDs and CDs can deteriorate because the aluminum data layer can oxidize after a while, especially if the label layer is compromised in some fashion.

The thing many people don't realize is that the under side which is the layer that the device reads is not where the data is recorded...the data layer is actually stamped into a thick polycarbonate resin, then a thin layer of aluminum is deposited by evaporation, then a thin layer of polycarbonate resin is spun on top of that. This is the layer that the label is printed on. So, if you scratch the label layer, you can actually severely damage the data, while deep gouges on the underside can be buffed away with rubbing compound.

Writable CDs have their own issues because the dye layer that the laser "burns" can fade over time.

I've had problems with "laser rot" which affected laserdisc know, the big, ol' 12" movie discs...the aluminum layer would oxidize, sometimes very quickly, from the middle of the disc out because of oxidation. Cheap laserdiscs are especially susceptible. But, gawd I liked laserdiscs so much better than DVD...I guess I'm too old school.

Point is, if the data is important, store it in about a million places...LOL!

Shari said...

1tess: Hi there and thanks for commenting. :-) The cases are standard DVD cases rather than jewel cases. While I think they might be useful for someone, I'm not sure who or how I'd find someone who could take them in Japan. I haven't tossed them yet (since the proper trash day hasn't come up). If anyone finds me before I do, they're welcome to them!

mjgolli: It's funny that you mention a multi-disc machine from Sony and how it isn't as great as one might think! My husband and I had a Sony stereo with 30 disc capacity and it was awful. Not only did it malfunction, but it was easy to forget which discs you had loaded. I can easily see where it may not be the best to have all your discs in the machine. As always, thanks for commenting!

Roy: As is often the case, you raise excellent points and it is food for thought. In terms of point 2, I've had similar problems with software labels doing exactly as you state. That is, the labels adhere to the plastic and get stuck (though this hasn't yet rendered the disc unusable). I am storing the discs vertically (they're only horizontal for the picture). On balance though, I don't consider any of the DVDs I've stored in this method sufficiently valuable to worry about this. The replacement cost for any given disc (or set) stored in this way is relatively low. Also, they are all older discs (no high definition or blu-ray)and many cost only $5-$15. The more expensive ones (full sets of T.V. shows) are still in their original packaging.

I did consider your first point but there are certain considerations which make it extremely unlikely that I'd sell the discs. The main reason is that they are all Region 1 discs. Since Japan is Region 2, I can't sell them to used shops or via auction in Japan as only those with region-free or multi-region players who didn't need Japanese subtitles would want them. That's too small a market to make selling them in Japan worthwhile.

I could try to sell them by eBay in the U.S., but, the postage from Japan tends to seriously put people off of buying them, particularly when they can often find a seller in the U.S. who can offer the same sorts of prices without the airmail shipping expense.

However, I have some concerns about the disc labels sticking and plan to keep an eye on them to see if anything goes amiss. I will mention that the pockets aren't as tight though as the ones I store software in. I don't know if this is because they are cheap or if maybe someone who makes these learned something about such things.

Many, many thanks for your helpful comment! BTW, if you ever have some free time, I'd like to ask you about how one goes about setting up an RSS feed. I haven't a clue how to add such functionality to my site.

Shari said...

mjgolli: This was a lesson I learned when I burned a disc and put a label on it rather lop-sidedly and tried to tear it off and found that all of the data layer came with it. ;-)

I figure everything is impermanent and having gone through records to CDs to MP3s and then videotapes to laser discs to DVDs, I'm not going to be incredibly put out if my storage method sees a few discs lost in the the next decade (or less). Sure, I'd prefer to keep them, but all things deteriorate and get replaced with better versions. As you say, if it's really important, copy it in multiple places! :-)

Roy said...

mygolli, thanks for explaining the about discs! I remember reading about it before but couldn't recall all the details.

Shari, Disc Union in Shinjuku buys region 1 discs at a very good price, believe it or not. When I got my first DVD player (multi-region) there weren't many region 2 titles available so I bought most of my movies from Amazon which were region 1. Then as the market in Japan got better I decided to off load all my region 1 DVDs and stick to region 2, because I don't think I will be moving back to Canada anytime soon anyways. Well, by chance I found Disc Union and brought all my DVDs there. You will be surprised that some DVDs actually become more valuable overtime as they become out of print and rare. I had a few DVDs which I considered junk turn out to return triple the worth of what I paid for it! Of course most of them were not worth much and I only got a few hundred yen for them but my goal was getting rid of anyways. In the end I got more than what I expected for the lot. I don't know what the resale market is like these days but I'm guessing not as good since there is more availability of DVDs in general.

Roy said...

About your RSS feed. Blogspot already provides one for you, see the link at the bottom of your top page:

Shari said...

Doh! You can see how often I scroll all the way to the bottom of my own front page! Thanks, Roy, for helping me overcome my cluelessness.

Shari said...

Roy, you don't happen to remember about what you got (on average) per disc, do you?

The reason I ask is my husband took back used CDs and got 100 yen (or less) per CD from places like Disk Union. It wasn't worth the trouble of taking them there for such a small return. It may be different for DVDs, but that's why I'm asking. ;-)

Roy said...

The price I got for DVDs varied a lot. If I remember correctly, the low was around 300yen and up to 6000yen for a couple DVDs but on average was about 600 or 700yen. Apparently some titles like "Heat" are quite popular and I've seen it on Yahoo Auction for over 10,000yen.

I haven't sold DVDs in the last few years and I doubt that you can get any good deals now that there are so many titles being sold on cheap pressings for less than 1000yen new. I was just pointing out the fact that there are places that will buy region one DVDs if you just want to unload them.

Helen said...

Also, speaking about selling region 1 disks, there is a Yahoo group for people living in Japan called Tell and Sell. You can sell almost anything you want there...and that includes region 1 disks.

It's all in English too, which is nice if you want to buy or sell anything. Most members are Ex-Pats and you can sometimes get good deals.

I'm not saying you are looking to sell, but it does give you another option!