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So, you're a DVD addict... [Jan. 23rd, 2006|07:35 am]
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DVD addiction is becoming a serious problem. If you're a film or tv buff, it's especially difficult to control the urges to buy everything that comes out. There are films and tv shows that I literally waited decades to be released on videotape. It never happened. Now they're bringing out anything and everything on DVD, to the point where you're spoiled for choice. There's always something you can pick up.

For many of us suffering a DVD addiction (or as I call it, DVDA) it's hard not to buy the discs. These are things you've wanted to see all your life, things that previously you only got the chance to get once in a while. Now they're all out there, seemingly at once. If you don't buy them now, you may miss out on them. And after having waited so long to see these things, the last thing you want is to miss out on them now they've been released.

This leads to a few different problems. One is the inevitable lack of money. Another is having lots of unwatched DVD's that you'll get to 'one day.' The third is the lack of space. The last is being caught with really embarrassing crap on your shelves.

Today, I'll share with you three simple techniques I've learned, in the hope of helping you with your addiction. If we're lucky, at the very least it'll save you some money.

The Rule of Four.
Taught to me by my guru, the rule of four is an easy way to reduce your DVD habit. It only works with films or tv shows that you've already seen, however.

The concept is simple. When you see or read about a DVD you want to buy, stop and think carefully for a moment. Will you, in all honestly, end up watching it four more times within your life? This only works if you're honest with yourself. Think carefully, are you really likely to watch it four more times. If the answer is no, leave it there. Chances are good that one of your friends, or your local video library, will have it. Why spend the money if you don't need to?(1)

If it's going to be available, you don't need it on your shelf.

The List.
Came up with this one myself. Surprisingly effective. It also helps with the technique that follows this one.

Go through all your DVD's and make a list of them. Bold all the DVD's that you own that you have not yet watched, then print out the list. With most people, a sizeable chunk of your list will be unwatched. Carry the list with you whenever you go out shopping, or refer to it while checking out DVD's online.

Look at the DVD you're wanting to buy. Now look at the list and all the DVD's you've already bought that you haven't watched. Do you really need to buy it now, shouldn't you go watch some of the ones you haven't seen yet? If you've had some DVD's for over twelve months and not watched them, what are you doing buying more?(2)

View some of those DVD's that have sat there unwatched, then you can think about buying another one.

The Waiting Game.
Discovered this technique thanks to many DVD companies being total bastards.

A DVD of a film or tv show has been released. It's something you've wanted for ages. It's just out and you want it now. Pause, apply the Rule of Four. You still want it. Now, look at your list. You've got plenty to watch, you don't have to have this immediately, you can wait, no matter how it feels.

Now this is the important bit. If you wait, it's likely to get cheaper. If you wait until it comes down in price, that's money you've saved that can be spent on other DVD's. Use your addiction to control the problem.

These days most DVD's are coming down in price fairly quickly. But that waiting period can make a huge difference. You will find yourself waiting for the DVD you want to appear even cheaper before you buy it. And sometimes once you've waited long enough, you realise that you don't really need it at all! (3)
Also remember, if the DVD you've wanted for ages has suddenly come down dramatically in price, then there's a fair chance they are about to release a version with extra features. Wait a little longer...

By waiting, the worse thing that will happen is that you'll actually save money.

These three simple rules have cut down the amount of crappy DVD's on my shelves, as well as saving me money. I'm pickier, more thoughtful about my purchases. Hopefully, it'll be of some help to you, too.



(1) - Once I started doing this, it made a huge difference to my DVD buying. It's very easy to pick up something that's crap just because it's cheap, or you haven't seen it in years. When you stop and really think about the purchase, you often realise you're buying it on impulse. And that makes it easier to put back. There's a surprising amount of stuff that I thought I've wanted that got put back when I really honestly thought about it using the Rule of Four.
Plus if your friends have it, then that's money you've saved!

(2) - The list is marvelous. I actually started it because I'd sometimes forget if I had already bought something on DVD, or whether I only had it on video. The bolding of the unwatched was an afterthought, a little thing to remind me what I hadn't seen yet. But when you're thinking about buying a DVD, and you open that list (printed in a tiny font) and clearly see all the DVD's you still haven't watched, it's that much easier to leave without buying anything.

(3) - This is what prompted the article. I was out yesterday and I saw Logan's Run. Now when it first came out, I nearly bought it at $25. Bargain price, I thought, I should buy that. And it passed the Rule of Four easily (at the time). It was the list it didn't pass. I looked at all my unwatched DVD's and thought, no, I shouldn't buy anything. So I decided to wait until I saw it cheap enough. Yesterday, which is probably 18 months from when I first saw it, I saw the DVD for $6. I went to buy it and paused. I had waited so long, did I really need to buy it? I was stuck for some time on that. Eventually I did buy it, but only after really thinking hard about it, rather than simply going "Score!" and picking it up. I thought about the other things that were around that I'd like to buy, considered the possibility of a new version coming out with even more extras, the lot.
There were a lot of cheap DVDs that I wanted in Target yesterday, I came home with one.

[User Picture]From: baralier
2006-01-23 12:22 am (UTC)
A couple of other points worth thinking about.

Waiting. It's quite possible that if you race out and but the first version of the DVD to hit the shelves that in 6 months, when the "special edition" is released with the extras you really wanted, that you'll then have to buy the other edition. Waiting will save you money this way.

Dodgy. Many of my friends have bootleg copies of various DVDs. I know one industrious chap who is converting his videotape collection to DVD. Now much of the stuff he has I'm not interested in having a copy of but some of it is very nice. Some very short run series are unavailable on DVD and this may be the only way of getting them.

View first. Borrow a copy of the DVD. If, after watching it, you think you still want it then by all means go and get a copy. But if after you've watched it you think "meh" then don't bother.

Space. I've found that replacing many of my older VHS tapes with shiny new DVDs means that I can fit two DVDs into the space formerly occupied by VHS. So the incentive is to only buy new DVDs once you have replaced and old VHS one. You can offer the old videos to some-one else.
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[User Picture]From: stephen_dedman
2006-01-23 01:30 am (UTC)
Generally good advice, though the waiting game has its perils for DVDAs such as myself. I also follow the 'View First' rule, and always ask myself: how many times am I going to want to watch this? How much would it cost me to hire the DVD that many times? (Ignore the weirdly high probability of one of my local libraries buying the same DVD as soon as I have.) Where possible, go with the cheaper option.

This pretty much stops me buying full-price DVDs, but unfortunately hasn't prevented me buying more ex-rental tapes than I have space for. I'm slowly replacing these with DVDs, but using the same logic.

Maybe this isn't as bad a problem in Melbourne (where I bought a huge load of DVDs on my last visit), but one of the other temptations here is that the waiting game has its drawbacks. When dealers here mark down a DVD, this often means that they won't bother re-stocking it once it's sold - so if I don't buy it then, I'll have to buy it by mail-order at full price, if I can find it at all (I have the same dilemma at library book sales, hence the house full of books). I'm still kicking myself for not buying the DVD of 'Once Upon a Time in America' from JB HiFi (which completely dominates the market in Perth) for $13 - replacing the tapes would have freed up enough space on my shelf for another three or four DVDs. OTOH, I'm glad I kept resisting the temptation to buy 'The Civil War' and 'From the Earth to the Moon' on VHS and waited until I found cheap DVDs.
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[User Picture]From: shrydar
2006-01-23 03:16 am (UTC)
I too, use the 'cost of renting*likely viewings' vs retail cost test. It's a bit more flexible than the Rule of Four.

The place I've really been burned with "failing to buy while still available" has been computer games; particularly Ico. Still, the non-sequel is apparently out.. *prods self to go shopping*
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2006-01-23 05:03 am (UTC)
Sony Europe are re-releasing Ico alongside Shadow of the Collosus, in the UK and contential Europe at least. I wouldn't be surprised if copies made their way out to Australia too.
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[User Picture]From: shrydar
2006-01-23 07:03 am (UTC)
The salesdroid at the gaming shop I went to this morning said as much :-) :-)

Release date 24th of Feb. *drums fingers*
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2006-01-23 07:19 am (UTC)
I'd need to buy a PS2 first, myself. So many choices.

(Eyes longingly at the Xbox 360 and The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion...)
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[User Picture]From: shrydar
2006-01-23 07:39 am (UTC)
If you got a PS2 then you'd be able to play R-Type Final, too..
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[User Picture]From: stephen_dedman
2006-01-23 02:07 am (UTC)
Another useful rule: don't be a completist for its own sake. There are very few worthwhile sequels to horror films or to Hong Kong action movies. Even Kurosawa, Kubrick and Hitchcock had their off days. Season 3 of ST:TOS has almost no good episodes, and is not worth $90. The Phantom Menace has almost no good scenes and is not worth $2 and 2cm of shelf space. And so on.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2006-01-23 04:10 am (UTC)
...don't be a completist for its own sake.

Looks at personal collection of seven different movies based on Suzuki's Ring. Shuffles feet...
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2006-01-23 02:12 am (UTC)
I have followed the rule of four since you mentioned it to me many, many years ago. It's great and it works a treat.

I must admit I bought Logan's Run for $6.00, and watched it the very next day with a big Logan-loving smile on my face. What a ridiculous movie. Why on earth are they producing a remake?
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