How I Organize My Physical Media Collection

Back in 2011, I wrote a post about how I organized my DVD/Blu-ray collection. At the time, I kept my discs in large, leather binders; alphabetized for easy storage and retrieval. A lot has changed since then. DVD/Blu-rays have since graduated to Blu-ray/4K’s and the movie hoarder I was ten years ago has since evolved into a more serious collector.  For me, it’s no longer just owning a copy of a movie, but also its unique presentation and packaging. And once that occurred, owning a “compact” collection was no longer possible. Easy retrieval, on the other hand, still is. This post is designed to supersede that old blog and show you how I organize my collection today. Please note, I’m not suggesting my methods to be the best nor the most economical. They are, however, what I found works best for me. 

Shelving: I’ll start with my shelving. I use the Prepac double and triple width storage shelves which (if you live in the United States) are available at Home Depot or Amazon.  Currently, I’m using one triple and three double-sized units but expect to add another triple in the coming year. They’re sturdy, easy to put together, and the shelves can be fitted to accommodate DVDs, Blu-rays, compact discs, and even paperback books. The tops also allow space to display my masks and other collectibles.

One of the biggest debates among hobbyists is how best to arrange your collection. Some do it by genre, some alphabetically, and many more display them by company; keeping boutique labels like Arrow, SHOUT!, Severin, Vinegar Syndrome, in their own sections. The latter is likely the most popular and visually appealing and can be segregated even further by keeping your Steelbooks and box sets in their own spots as well.

Over the years, I’ve personally tried all of these methods before finally settling on doing things alphabetically. It seemed like as my collection grew, it would take me longer and longer to find what I was looking for. My kids are adults and often borrow titles to watch with their friends. It’s a lot easier for them to find what they’re looking for alphabetically rather than have me try to explain what the SHOUT! Factory shelf looks like. And let’s not forget our penchant for double-dipping (something I’ll be talking about in the near future). Call me crazy, but I like having my multiple releases of The THING (1982) and other favorites in one spot.

Slipcover protectors: Unfortunately, when you’re a tad OCD like myself, there’s one major drawback in displaying your collection alphabetically. Namely, it looks chaotic. The sight of a YouTuber standing in front of their alphabetized collection never fails to set my anxiety a whirl due to the uneven packaging. When you have a Steelbook – sitting next to a box set – sitting next to a standard Blu-ray – right next to another Blu-ray that has a Slipcover, you’re movies look more like an episode of Hoarders as opposed to a collection. So I came up with a solution…albeit a pricy one.

I’d already been using protector cases for my Steelbooks when I discovered that Vinegar Syndrome was selling the same type of cases for their coveted slipcover editions. Prior to this revelation, it somehow never occurred to me they could be expanded to the rest of my movies. Vinegar Syndrome is currently selling theirs for $2 a case but I went on eBay and found that if you buy them in bulk, you can get them for under a dollar each. So every paycheck for about six months I’d buy a pack or two until my entire collection was covered. Once all my regular blu-ray cases and slipcover editions were encased, I had the illusion that they were all the same height which made me happy if not broke. Again, this is NOT a sensible suggestion for “normal” people as it will set you back on the two things we collectors never have enough of – money and space. Putting regular Blu-rays in these cases will invariably make them wider and take up more room on your shelf. In my defense, it’s a lot easier to read the words on those smaller cases when they aren’t sitting so close to one another (yes, I’m over 50).

Fighting the addiction: I also discovered that by putting them alphabetically in cases, I’m less obsessed with Slipcovers (except in the case of Vinegar Syndrome as I consider theirs to be functional art) nor making sure I have every single film in a numbered collection.

FYI – Physical media on the far left is Italian Giallo, not porn.

Use Spreadsheets: After a new film is purchased, the first thing I do is log it into my spreadsheet. Back in the day, I’d use Excel but now use Google Spreadsheets which is essentially the same program except it’s free and you never have to back anything up. As long as I’m using a device where I can access my Google account, it’s ready and current. You can also share that list with friends who are able to see new acquisitions as they come in.

The list is especially important for movies that are part of a box set and can’t be alphabetized on my shelf. So let’s say it’s Thanksgiving and time for my annual viewing of The Giant Claw (1957). I notice it’s not on my shelf so I look on my spreadsheet. If I hover over the entry I can see a comment I left stating it’s part of Arrow’s “Cold War Creatures” collection and will find it on my shelf that way.

Comments can also highlight special details that help differentiate what specific releases you own.

So now you know how I organize my physical media collection in 2022. Come back again in 2033 when I unveil my newest organization technique – renting a warehouse!

Dave~

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