Streamlining Physical Media: What’s the Status of Your CD and DVD Collection?

created at: 02/14/2012

Last weekend, in an effort to reorganize my media collection to make space for new books, I sorted through at least three hundred CDs and a hundred DVDs and cut my collection by at least seventy-five percent.

The collection which I, on the day before, had understood to have been already pared down to the bare minimum. Every year of my post-college life, I’ve forced myself to go through and get rid of records and movies and books that I simply don’t use anymore. Everytime, it’s hard and sad, and I feel better afterwards, but I imagine: okay…that’s it. These are my essential collection. And the next time, I’m able to cut back even more.

So, I’m curious: In the era of streaming media and the cloud and huge hard drives, what’s the status of physical entertainment in your home? Do you still buy CDs and DVDs, or only digital downloads? Have you made the switch from paper books to an eReader? Do you find it easier to get rid of newer purchases, or things you’ve owned for a while?  

For me, the things I end up taking to the second hand shop are always newer items in my library, and the ones that stick around are the ones I’ve had for years, often more than a decade. Which, I guess makes sense, particularly for music. iTunes has been around for ten years now, and portable media players just as long. It’s been an easy transition from buying whole albums to getting discs from the public library and collecting them on an iPod.

And I guess, most importantly, the reverse chronology sheds light on why its so hard in the first place: these records and films are bound up in my becoming an adult. I don’t think I’m particularly connected to physical items, or have a hard time throwing things away. In fact, when friends need help with a clean sweep of their home or office, they often call me to come in and talk them out of keeping most it around.

But I love music. Discovering records they didn’t play on Top 40 radio was what I did as a teenager and college student, and it’s how I connected to my friends. Venturing into “the city” to see the arthouse films and the experimental stuff at the art museum was lifechanging for me. 

Many people keep lots of photos of friends and family around, or scrapbooks of their memories, vacations, and accomplishments. In some ways, these are my scrapbooks, and they’re how I remember the major events in my life. And I know if I want to revisit those memories, I can put on a record, and it allows me to celebrate or even work through my emotions about that event.

So, for the first time since I was twelve and I outgrew my first CaseLogic, I know own less than one hundred compact discs. And my DVDs are down to about forty. Of course, I also now own many hard disks and an iPod full of those records and films, but that’s not quite the same. I haven’t bought a CD in five years (I remember the last one), and a DVD in three-ish.

What about you? Do you have more discs than you used to, or less? Does the advent of streaming media mean you collect your favorites in different ways?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.