So you built your Plex Media Server and ripped all the DVD’s and Bluray’s you have in your home. You now see how easy it is and love the convenience of having all of your DVD’s and Bluray movies/TV shows centrally located with access to it on your smart TV’s or streaming devices, but that library is rather lacking and there’s only so many times that you can watch Steel Magnolias with the wife and now you’re craving some movies containing testosterone. You could of course watch Tombstone for the 50th time this year, especially with how convenient it is to call it up on your new Plex Server, or maybe that Godfather saga your brother got you for Christmas last year could go a third round, but we all know what happens if the wife sits through those movies again. You’ll be taking up residence on the couch.
Tempting… but marriage is marriage and we do need to make some occasional sacrifices.
While cutting the cord is great, you’ve begun to notice that there’s some great movies and TV shows that have not made it to any of the streaming services yet. If that wasn’t bad enough then there’s always the issue of popular titles moving to services that you don’t subscribe to. So where do you go to get these TV shows and movies to put on your Plex Server?
Digital media in the form of CD, DVD, Bluray, etc has several advantages over the earlier VHS/Beta tape versions of media, so buying used doesn’t come with the same risks in disc formats as it did in tape. That’s not to say that it doesn’t come with some risks, but if you do purchase a used disc that won’t play there are steps that might be able to fix it and if properly inspected you can hedge the chances of avoiding bad discs to your favor.
There’s many places you can go to get quality used and even fairly recent movies and here are a few of my favorites.
You can purchase bulk movie titles from eBay. If you’re not aware of how the system works, you purchase a bulk number of movies in one of the two formats but you don’t get to pick the titles from a list. You simply send them the money for X number of titles and they randomly throw X number of titles into a box and ship it to you. Many promise not to send multiple copies of the same title. I did this and in my case I purchased from AA Goods getting 25 titles for slightly more than $20 when my local sales tax is figured into the mix. It does come with a certain amount of trepidation. I mean… you’re trusting them to pick out a list of movies and the odds of getting something you don’t care for or might already have is abnormally high. But when I figured that each title works out to be less than $2, even with tax, and if only four or five of the titles ended up being material that I wanted, I still walked away ahead.
I was ecstatic of my first time results.
Of my 25 DVD movies, only one title was a movie that I already owned (Grown Ups) which as fate would have it I have in Bluray, 10 titles that I had never seen before with three of those I had almost purchased new from another source (and probably would have if the prices were closer to what I was willing to have paid at the time) and 12 titles that I found myself actually happy to be available to watch on Plex even though I had seen the movie before. Three movies I couldn’t copy, due to blemishes on the disc, but a quick Colgate polishing trick allowed two of the movies to be ripped. I think that the 300 disc is just to scratched and needs to be professionally fixed, a service that some used DVD/Bluray retailer will do for a small fee. Of the 25 titles, 8 of them including Grown Ups, I was kinda meh about, but I know that they will be popular with some individuals who I grant access to my Server so I’ll rip it for them. I’m actually more disturbed over the fact that six of the titles were in full screen and not wide screen format, but it was a risk that I knowingly took and when you consider that 11 of the titles (12 if I can get 300 fixed) I couldn’t be happier about and simply discarded the ones that I wasn’t 100% satisfied with, that breaks it down to $1.90 per movie ($1.75 if I manage to get 300 fixed for free).
As I said before, the risks are pretty high in getting duplicate or damaged titles, but when building up your library it also means that the payoffs can make it worth the chances you’re taking. Ripping DVD’s does tend to be a little easier than ripping Bluray discs and I think that this makes those who are just beginning to take advantage of Plex and what it offers slightly more appealing and less costly than buying new or used movies.
Redbox, like other movie rental places, will buy an abundance of recently released movies to stock up, ensuring that most everyone has an opportunity to rent it. They then they make the titles available to sell as popularity dies down. There’s two ways to purchase a used Redbox movie. Go to your local kiosk and see which of the titles are available for purchase or go online and check. If you go online it will tell you which kiosks have them. Several of my Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are in Bluray format from Redbox. Sure, I’m missing the special features discs that came with some of the titles as well as the fancy case with artwork but when you consider that the Iron Man Bluray, a movie that launched the cinematic franchise 11 years ago still sells for almost the same price as a new Bluray movie, I’m personally okay with buying a used copy for $5-6 and giving up the special features disc and designated case.
Blockbuster may have gone out of business, but Family Video is still around. If you’ve never heard of this video store its probably because you’ve never spent much time in the Midwest due to them only being located in 16 states. Don’t worry if you don’t live in one of the 16 Midwestern states that Family Video calls home, you can go to the website linked above and purchase a used movie online from the main office. I’ve not done this because if I see a specific title that I want I can call a local store to see if they have that title available allowing me to get it at a lower price (bypassing the shipping cost) and get it much sooner than if I order it by mail, but you may find some popular titles for a great price this way and you don’t need to live nearby.
Pawn shops and Specialty stores
Pawn shops are a veritable goldmine for cheap movies in DVD and Bluray format in just about any corner of the US.
Goodwill, Salvation Army and other charitable locations.
There are lots of movies to be found at places like this. Though obviously there is no rimy or reason to what you will find. Usually they only ask a couple of bucks for the DVD/Bluray titles because they got them as a donation. I recently found The North Avenue Irregulars at Goodwill and a couple of years ago I found Catch Me If You Can on DVD. I’ve found other titles as well, but these are the two that stick out the most because I caught myself being a little too excited to find them at those prices at the time. Most of the time I’ll walk away unimpressed with what they have.
Big Box Stores
Target comes in a distant second over Walmart for new DVD’s but they do have a decent selection to choose from. Usually if I purchase from Target, its a new release movie that I’m eager to get right away. You can order movies online and pick them up at the customer service desk at the Target of your choice in less than an hour. Easy in, easy out with no fuss or muss.
There’s certainly other options like Best Buy, especially with their Best Buy exclusives, so do look around. You’ll find some great bargains and titles to have.