The Value, Or Lack Thereof, In A DVD Collection

Sarah and I are trying to downsize our personal belongings. I have amassed a ton of random movies and television shows thanks to my time at Borders, and Sarah has a bunch that have accumulated over time. However, we both realized last weekend that we haven’t touched our DVD player in months, we have no interest in a blu ray player, and most of our movie and television watching is through Netflix, Amazon Prime or iTunes. So what better way to begin trimming away our crap than by trading in our DVDs for cash or credit towards things we will actually use?

My first thought was to resell our DVDs to a store like FYE. That seemed simpler than shipping them off somewhere, and whatever cash we received was better than we were getting from them collecting dust on the shelf. However, a quick visit to FYE made me rethink that plan, as they explained that while they can theoretically buy back any movie, they are limited to what their system determines they need in inventory. So if they already have several used copies of “Family Guy Season Three”, they won’t buy ours back. This seemed like a great deal of hassle, since it would require gathering all the DVDs and driving there, but not knowing if they would even accept what we had.

So then I looked at online trade-ins. Both Best Buy and Amazon run trade-in programs, and a quick check indicated their offers were similar, but Amazon was about .50 higher on some of the box sets (Charmed Season 3 got me $2.50 at Amazon, but only $1.90 at Best Buy). Both programs offered store credit in exchange for the items, and they provided mailing labels. I chose Amazon because those slightly higher offers added up quickly! Plus we do more shopping at Amazon, and shopping in Best Buy gives me flashbacks to the six months I worked for them in college.

Between Sarah and I, we came up with 50 DVDs, for which we will receive around $50 in Amazon credit. It’s a bit depressing, honestly, because while some items fetched a few dollars, we had a handful that clocked in at $0.05! It’s crazy to look at a DVD collection that cost probably several hundred dollars, but now reduced on the whole to a value less than it used to cost to get a television show on DVD! Clearly, everyone else has had the same experience we have (in switching to digital and streaming solutions) and it has diluted the secondary used DVD market terribly.

But multimedia has always been a victim of the march of progress. Records became tapes. Tapes became CDs. CDs became mp3s. And the same for video-reels became Betamax and VHS, which became laserdisc and then DVD, and now digital downloads. Books are experiencing something similar with ebooks, but in a very brief scan of Amazon’s trade-in program even they are pickier about books. I tried entering a few random titles (Bitter is the New Black, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang) and neither came up in a search. I don’t know if that is a sign there’s less interest in secondhand books on Amazon, or if Amazon doesn’t want to undercut their full price book business. Unfortunately, I think it is probably the former; Amazon will happily take back every DVD I threw at them, even ones worth only a few cents, but they barely take back any books. Clearly, even in a badly flooded multimedia market, there is more resale value in a DVD than in a book.

In any case, we aren’t ready to part with our books. Even the ones in boxes in the attic…every time we have tried, it’s turned into “but I might read that someday!” However, we don’t have that attachment to most of our DVDs, and realistically, we will probably use the Amazon credits to buy more books (kindle, but still!)

Have you traded in old media to Amazon, Best Buy, or anyone else? Let us know your experience in the comments!


Categories: eBooks, Editorials

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3 replies

  1. 2 words – Yard Sale

    I’ve actually found that reasonably current dvd’s do sell decently at yard sales. Pricing, per move, about $5 sometimes less & TV seasons about $10, but also go down easily.

    If they don’t sell at the yard sale, it’s off to Goodwill, where I claim about $4 per movie and $8 per tv season as the donation value. The tax deduction does me more good than the tiny little bit I’d get back from any other source at that point.

    I convert anything I might want to watch again into an iTunes compatible version and then it goes to the yard sale boxes in the garage. We do have a small blue ray collection, our very favorite movies, and we usually get those for the special features more than the movies themselves. We’re the oddball’s who actually sit an watch 3 hours of special features that come on those discs!

    • One of my coworkers suggested the same thing!

      The problem is that we don’t have many free weekends for yard sales for a while. But it might be the best option for phase two of “seriously, we have way too much crap for two people”
      That’s a really good point about taxes and donations. I will need to remember that the next time I have a carful of stuff for goodwill.

  2. I typically took my DVDs, stripped them into the computer, then put the DVDs away in plastic bins in the attic (or the storage room of my apartment). That way I had “proof” that I owned legal copies of everything. As time goes on, I’ve moved some titles to purchased digital copies so the DVDs become less relevant. I don’t think it will take that many years before the physical media is totally irrelevant.