With the birth of DVD players came the popular concept of buying movies. People were always buying movies in small numbers, but people didn't really start buying their own movies in large numbers until the advent of the DVD player.

You see everyone bought DVD players because they were the latest thing, but you couldn't record anything on them. So people finally started buying movies in large numbers. I myself had begun amassing a decent sized collection of DVD movies. I might have continued this collection, but eventually I realized two very important facts related to collecting movies.

You see DVD movies cost between $10 and $25 to purchase. DVDs hold the advantages of having extra features, a smaller case, and the fact that they do not need to be rewound. The one big disadvantage they have is the fact that they are susceptible to scratching.

Meanwhile movies on VHS can be had for around $2 on the used market. They usually have no extra features, and must be rewound after watching.

DVDs can also be had used, but the pricing leaves much to be desired, and oftentimes the used ones will be scratched.

After I spent some time comparing and contrasting the two formats I decided to start collecting movies on VHS, rather than DVDs. At the moment my VHS collection consists of 272 tapes. In getting this collection together I have learned a lot about the art of hunting down video tapes.

To quote "They Might Be Giants" you have to "Think long-term investment". Now you aren't investing in hopes of a future financial payoff, but instead to assure a future entertainment payout.

One of the most important things you need to do is maintain an inventory. I did not do that early on, and I now have duplicate copies of Jurassic Park, Highlander 2 and Weird Science taunting me from my shelves. When your entire movie collection is approaching 1000 movies (like mine does), it can be difficult to remember what you own, and in what format. To this end I now keep a simple text file listing all my movies by format (other than Star Trek episodes on VHS, as I don't ever plan on buying any more of those). I have them separated by format, rather than on a master list.

Before you begin shopping you might want to compile a list of movies you do want. This is not completely necessary though, as you will find that movies just start jumping out at you once you start searching through the boxes and bins at the used movie shop.

I am going to assume that you are going to want to build up your collection in stages, rather than just dropping a few thousand dollars all at once. In fact, even if you want to do a one shot, I would suggest building your collection in stages anyway. If you raid the video shop for 1000 films in one go then you will probably end up with a lower quality collection than you would if you would have purchased over the course of multiple raids.

Early on you should start getting an understanding as to what is easy to find on VHS and what is hard to find. In general the older the movie is, the harder it will be to find. Back in the 80s video stores only tended to buy a couple copies of each movie, and very few people were buying their own copies for home use. Stuff from that era is often really hard to find. Once we got into the 1990s the video stores started buying 50 copies of everything, and the market for home buyers had begun to grow. So blockbusters from the nineties are incredibly easy to find.

The reason you want to get a handle on what is easy to find and what is hard to find is so that you can spend your money wisely, and so you know when to snap things up as soon as you see them. There will always be 25 copies of Men in Black in every store, but you might have to scrounge through half a dozen places to find a copy of Quest For Fire. Oftentimes certain movies in a series will be hard to find. For example Star Trek IV and Jurassic Park III or terribly hard to find, at least when compared with the other films in their series.

My usual strategy is to go into the video store and make a complete sweep of their used tapes. The harder to find stuff will be pulled off the shelf and set into my buy pile immediately. I will also try to take note of shrink-wrapped movies, as the used places often have quite a few brand new movies mixed in with their used inventory. I try to get shrink-wrapped copies of the more common movies. I'll open them later, but a shrink-wrapped copy assures me of getting a film in the best condition. If you have the choice between buying a movie that was broken from a collectors set (like from a Star Wars or Indiana Jones set) or the stand alone release, then purchase the one from the set, as you have a much lower chance of it being a former rental copy.

After you have all your films picked out, you should check them against your inventory sheet (which you will have printed up earlier), and make sure that you are not buying any doubles. I will certainly upgrade a bootleg DVD, DivX or copied VHS tape to a factory VHS tape. But films I already have in lesser formats are not a first priority, so those films may be put off until later.

While you are checking against your list you should also slide each video tape out of the box and make sure it has the correct tape inside the sleeve. Nothing is more annoying than finally finding that copy of SpaceCamp only to get it home and find a Pauly Shore movie inside the sleeve.

How you display your collection is your choice. I prefer bookshelves myself. I file them in alphabetical order, but I keep box formats segregated. There seem to be six common box formats. The vast majority of movies will just have a cardboard sleeve. Other formats include the big puffy box favored by most Disney films, the huge box that many home purchase videos from the early 80s came in, smaller plastic cases (these are from video stores), the heavier "book" style cases (most "Columbia House" movies came in these), and the early 80s deep boxes, which are the same height as the common cardboard sleeve, but are several inches deeper.

Good luck in building your collection, be sure to get a good quality VCR while they are still available.

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