How to Free Yourself from Your Collections: DVDs

Collections.  Ain’t they great?  They make us happy, kind of.  Satisfied in a brief, sort of real way as we bring them together and curate them.

Are you detecting my sarcasm?

That’s probably because some time ago I finally realized for myself that my collections never served any real purpose other than bringing my consumerist tendencies to the forefront, increasing the necessity for more living area in which to house them, and the sickening empty feeling that comes along with the knowledge that my collection, no matter what it was, would never really be complete.

It’s hoarding, good old fashioned hoarding.  That’s all it is, call it by it’s real name.  It may not be as bad as the TV show or as unsanitary, but the end result is the same; making the keeping of possessions rather than the living of a life as your number one priority.

For many people, sadly, the maintenance of these collections seems to be their only joy.  The thought of a loss or reduction in said possessions causes a ripple of panic and hopelessness through them and that’s really quite terrible.

So I set myself the task of eliminating my collections, slowly as first, one by one and changing how my brain processed the desire to “own”.  It’s a work in progress, because I’m a person and that’s what we are, we never get finished either.

For this first little minimalization tutorial I’ll go over how I went from a 300 plus DVD collection to not owning a single disc.

1.  Stop Buying New DVDs


This should be an obvious one, but it’s worth expanding on.  I used to work at a retail store where I saw the masses rush the doors every Tuesday morning (the day new movies are released on DVD) just to see if there was anything they kind of, maybe, sort of liked enough that they probably needed to own.

They often times didn’t even know what movies were going to be released, they simply showed up like it was an ingrained part of their weekly schedules.   The studios and big box retail joints capitalized on this by discounting their new movies about 2 whole dollars on release day and also re-releasing old movies in new formats with new features in new box art at half the price of new movies.

Oh I remember that movie as a kid!  I MUST own it!  It somehow symbolizes me as a person!


It’s that voice in your head that you have to debate with for a while before he finally packs up and heads for the hills forever.

2.  Digitize The Movies You DO Want To Watch Again

For someone like myself, movies are something that I simply love.  I don’t mind that I’ve watched the Terminator 14 times, the 15th is sometimes just as sweet.  (Also, you should never, EVER challenge me at movie trivia, you will wake up in a puddle of your own tears so just don’t do it)

Others, like one of my favorite blogs, The Minimalists, suggest that you move on from things you have watched before and into new experiences, save your money.  It is good advice and the kind that I can see the value of, but I just like to watch certain movies, I can’t help it.  Sue me.  As long as that enriches your experience, perhaps by bringing together movie watching groups of old fans and new alike, then I think there’s no shame in this.

How to go about it?  Well, pick the movies you want to keep, because in every DVD collection there’s a sizable amount of fluff that was bought on a whim because that’s how they getcha.  Then, digitize them.  I’m not going to get into how, you can do your own research and as far as the legality of it, my opinion is that if you bought a movie, that movie is your personal copy whether it’s digitized or not.  You paid for it.  When people start sharing copies and letting them prolifigate throughout the internet is when it becomes a problem, so don’t do that please.

Another option I’ve noticed is Wal-Mart’s (yick, but bear with me) UltraViolet service which, for a small fee that you can probably recoup on the sale of your DVD, will digitize your movie and put it in UltraViolet’s cloud service.  The service isn’t yet compatible with iCloud or Amazon, but I think it may eventually.

You may also decide that from the money you make you from the sale of your DVDs you can take and spend on the digitized format from iTunes or Amazon or whatever your pleasure.  This is a great choice as it shows that you can live fruitfully in the gap when you don’t have every movie you’ve ever seen right at hand and you’re just fine.  When you think of a movie that you’d really like to seen, see if it’s available from Netflix streaming or grab it from iTunes.  With the new Movies in the Cloud feature popping up, it’s making streaming to your TV or watching it on any device not much of an issue in the least.

Moving on.

3.  Start Selling Your Collection

This one has multiple steps in my opinion so let’s break it down.

  • Firstly, make a Half.com account.  It’s easy to sell on Half.com and not extravagant on the costs and it’s tied to your eBay account which will increase your profile which will be helpful in gaining a trustworthy seller reputation that can be carried over to SELLING MORE OF YOUR STUFF.
  • Secondly, start to list the new movies or any shrink-wrapped movies on Half.com.  Those are going to go for some good money, up to 75% of retail price in many cases.  Half.com works by listing your item indefinitely until someone comes along and likes your price and perhaps the proximity of your item to their location and buys it.  No auction, no fuss.  You get an exciting little email saying “You’ve Made a Sale!” which will cause a ripple of joy in your heart.  There’s also a checkbox in your Half.com sellers options called “Also list on eBay” which you’ll want to check off.  It will list your items on eBay as well, without having to make any auctions, which will only help to increase your item’s exposure exponentially as eBay has a ridiculous amount of web traffic.  As you go through your collection, any that are worth around $2 or less, set aside.  We’re going to use those on the last step.
  • Thirdly, for any sales that you make, you want to ship them cheaply and easily.  My vehement recommendation for this is that you buy an inexpensive postage scale which will become invaluable as you sell your stuff online.  The post office sells a digital one themselves and I highly recommend it.  The reason being is that by purchasing postage online you receive a discount and free tracking every single time that will pay for your scale very quickly just in the difference in cost.  This also saves you from having to go to the post office during business hours and wait in line.  You can just drop off your package in any U.S. Postal Service location or drop box.  Many a time did I laughingly drop off six or seven packages quickly and easily as hoards of bleary-eyed workers on their lunch break stood helplessly in lines that wove out the door of my local post office.  
  • Fourthly, list those suckers!   My basic mode of pricing is this: list it at the correct condition, which unless it’s shrink-wrapped or damaged will be “like new” and list it at the cheapest price for the category, even if it’s only by a penny.  You’ll be the first to sell usually and can quickly blow through your movies.  Half.com is certainly not for people who want to get rid of everything in a weekend, but it’s a great way to have everything out there and available to the masses at any second of the day.
  • Fifthly, as for the DVDs I said to hang on to, you know, the ones that are worth $2 or less, you might make a list of those and put it on Facebook and tell your friends you’re selling them for $2-5.  It’ll make a great deal for them, you won’t have to ship anything and a lot of times you can get rid of multiple DVDs at once, as in my case.  If, also in my case, you have some stragglers that your friends didn’t want and weren’t worth the hassle of shipping, give them to Goodwill, donate them to a school’s movie library, give them to a homeless shelter, there’s a ton of worthwhile places that you can find that will gladly accept them.  Indeed, you can do this with your whole collection if you chose to and I, and others, would applaud you all the way, but this post was meant as a way to recoup some of your money spent and in that vein I have tried to offer my best advice on the matter.

After a long slug digitizing and selling my DVD collection I managed to sell off the vast proportion of the 300 plus movies I owned.  I now have a completely digital library for the movies I kept.

Now, enjoy that extra space that you’ve freed up in you living room by stretching out, put an original piece of artwork that you created on the wall, lay out your exercise mat, and enjoy the openness.  Your home is far more of a home than a retail showroom now and for that you should be proud.

I’m interested in knowing if there’s any collections other people are having a difficult time removing themselves of or how they got around it.  Let me know!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *