As a collector it doesn’t take all that long to reach the point at which your marriage is in danger and your social life falls apart, and all of that just because you are running out of space or, to say it differently, because your spouse has to retreat to the kitchen or your guests are caught out in the hallway. In short, your place is full of music, top to bottom, left to right … and inbetween.

The first solution seems to be the easiest for people not in the know. Invariably they’ll tell you that you don’t need 5000 or however many CDs you have, simply because in their minds, you can’t really have listened to all of them and will never be able to. Of course, we know better and being real collectors, we have serious problems parting with anything we have, even the crummy jazz reissue from some defunct budget label, the old scratched up one-hit-wonder recording we played all too often and now can’t stand anymore, the original CD release of some 80s band that has since been reissued three times (of course we have all three issues, just to compare), or the 60s hits collection which we actually have covered by three other 60s hits collections. So, another solution is needed.

You can move to a larger apartment or build a larger house. Again, in most cases this is not an option because we’ve spent far too much money on CDs, LPs, DVDs and whatnot. In fact, we haven’t been on any serious holidays for ages and the weekly evenings out have also not been happening that often anymore, have they? Nope, not a solution either.

The last resort could be removing a part of your collection from sight and immediate access, to the basement, the garage or any other small room as yet unused in your house or apartment. From personal experience I know that this solution is one often chosen by collectors. “Jazz” is in the living room, plus the rare collectors’ boxed sets and the sensitive digipack releases. “Pop” and “Rock” are in the hallway and “Reggae” is in the bedroom, in IKEA boxes, beneath the bed. I kid you not – I’ve seen it. So, the rest of your life you find yourself running around your place agitatedly, trying to find that Bob Marley compilation because you simply can’t remember if you shelved it under “Pop” or stored it away beneath your bed. Hardly a life-saving situation.

That leaves only one way to go, shrinking your collection in physical size/dimensions.

Because you hang around shopping malls a lot, hunting around for more things to add to your collection, you’ve noticed all those binders on sale right and left. Not so long ago, Jared Christensen went that route. He writes:

I remembered a friend who had displayed her CD cases out on a shelf but stored the actual CDs and sleeves in binders. Binders!, I thought. Of course! A few bucks later, I had binders in which to transfer my CDs. Whereas my friend had been using each binder pocket to store both a CD and its sleeve/booklet, I chose to reserve the top pockets for sleeves and slip the associated CD in the bottom pocket below the sleeve. The reason for this was two-fold. Some CD booklets are rather thick, and this prevented sliding a CD behind them. Additionally, many of my CDs have great artwork screen printed on them, and I didn’t want that hidden.

This method naturally cuts the binder’s storage capacity in half, but I think it’s well worth the tradeoff in presentational value and consistency. In addition, I left an empty page every 5 pages for future expansion. […]

Jared was left with the jewelcases which he then stored in IKEA’s KASSETT storage boxes. From his post on this, A More Compact Disc Collection, he seems to be quite happy with that solution. I tried this route too, but wasn’t all too happy with it because I simply have too many of the darn CDs and whenever I bought a 10-disc collection, I had to redo the binders. In the end, I found myself spending too much time reorganizing things.

So, what then?

I’m sure that if you have been in contact with these, they probably went through your mind at the outset of this post. Well, it took me longer to get to that point and although I still don’t have a single one of these, I’m seriously considering going down that path.

Wading through countless forum threads related to the various CD sleeves available, I have managed to narrow everything down to two reliable brands, Jazz Loft’s CD Sleeves and “The Jewelsleeve“, both of which seem to be favoured by serious collectors with lots of CDs.

Jazz Loft has been offering their CD sleeves for years now and because they are certainly affordable (a package of 100 CD Sleeves is available for $13.99), I might be shooting for these. They are 4mm thick sleeves which “… hold both the front cover and back graphics to create an LP-like gatefold. They take up 75% less space than the jewel box. The spine even shows, much like an LP.” Jazz Loft even offers detailed instructions on how to get all the stuff you removed from the jewelcase into one of their CD sleeves and for those who hate reading, a short video is available via their site, showing how it’s done. If you are the (overly) careful collector, you can also order paper inner sleeves for added protection available for $8 per 50 pieces.

“The Jewelsleeve” looks and works differently, but the system is basically the same: One sleeve is about one quarter the size and weight of a regular jewelcase, you can store every part of a CD (including tray card, booklet and CD) in it , it’s of course unbreakable and, unlike Jazz Loft’s sleeves above, “The Jewelcase” has indexes on both sides which can also be replaced by home-printed indexing labels; for that purpose, the sleeves come with sheets of perforated, laser-ready labels. “The Jewelsleeve” clocks in at around 40 cents a piece, but considering the indexing possibility, it’s still within range. Special offers are available regularly.

It basically comes down to how you want to store and access the sleeves. I favour Jazz Loft’s solution at the moment, simply because I can stick them into my long shelves and still pretty much see what’s in each sleeve from the side, but I also know that my father, who is looking for a sleeve solution as well, would favour “The Jewelsleeve”, simply because he can stick them into a long closed box and flip through the index labels easily from the top.

Whatever you choose, you can basically only win with this system. You gain lots (!) of extra space for even more CDs and who knows, maybe you can avoid one or t’other family crisis if you take the “sleeve” leap.

Tell ‘em I sent you.
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[Note: The only decent photo of CD sleevs I could find was over on “Image Shack. The one on the right was taken from muzorewi‘s images. The backdrop is a screenshot of the JazzLoft video on youtube.]