Unclutterer reader Jenny wrote in with this question:
My boyfriend and I are audiophiles, and between us we probably have over 1,500 cds. We do not own a house yet, which prevents us from installing a ton of custom-made shelving on our walls. We can’t find any pre-made solutions that hold more than 350 cds. Any creative suggestions?
This isn’t the only reader question we’ve gotten about CDs, so it looks like folks need help with their media. First off, let me say that in this post I’m going to offer some basic advice that should be applicable to most people. Next week we’ll have a post that will be better suited to serious audiophiles. Below I’ll present three options, from most to least drastic.
The first thing that comes to mind is what I’ve done myself: I’ve gotten rid of all but a few of my CDs. On his blog, Todd Dominey has a detailed step-by-step how-to post explaining how he ripped his collection of about 4,000 CDs into digital files and then sold the originals on Amazon marketplace. Although I have questioned the legality of doing this, it is no doubt a common practice. Revenue from the sale of a big collection can bring in enough cash to buy you an iPod, speakers, and Airport Express (to shift music wirelessly around your home), or a bigger hard drive to contain all that music.
A less drastic move would be to get rid of the bulk created by your CDs’ jewel cases. Put the discs in high-capacity (but compact) CD cases and then store cases out of the way (which might defeat the purpose of decluttering) or throw them away. Another storage-based solution is to keep on hand only your most listened-to CDs and back up the rest of the collection in easily accessible and labels boxes that you put in your closet or garage. Use a program like Delicious Library to catalog all of your CDs and keep track of what box they’re in.
This way, you have virtual shelves of your CDs while the real ones are stowed away. This also works for books as Merlin Mann explained a while back:
Lovely and innovative as it is, I’ve only found one purpose where Library would be really persistently useful to me. Saturday morning, I cleared off two full shelves of old programming books that are destined for a new life in cardboard boxes in the basement. I scanned the 40 or so titles into Library, and then organized them into sub-groups (they call them “Shelves”) corresponding to which books were in which of the three boxes. Now if, God forbid, I ever need my O’Reilly book on programming Access, I know exactly where to go. Super handy, actually.
The last thing you can do, obviously, is to get some shelves. The trick is to use all the overhead space you can. Reader Jenny said she couldn’t find pre-made solutions that fit more than 350 CDs. I’d check out the Leslie Dame 1,500 CD shelf, which is a steal for $250 on Amazon. Or you could go with a more compact cabinet with doors if you don’t want to see all the CD spines. Retailer AVThing in its Place (clever!) has lots of media storage solutions.