Why do people buy DVDs? Economically, it doesn’t make sense for most people. After all, a DVD costs $20, but it only costs $4 to rent it (possibly less if you commonly rent with buddies). Do people watch the movie over and over?

Couple explanations that aren’t economically sound, but make sense:

  • DVDs are so cheap that people buy them on impluse without considering the economics.
    • The buyer is already in the store, so why go to the rental store to get the same thing?
    • People are used to buying CDs, so they’re accustomed to buying media. But of course, CDs are very different from DVDs; people commonly listen to CDs over and over, and it’s hard to rent them (libraries don’t always have the latest CDs, and some people don’t even realize that you can rent CDs at the library).
    • Or, they convince themselves that they’ll watch a movie enough times to make it worthwhile, even if they don’t. After all, as I said, DVDs are cheap so a wrong economic decision doesn’t make much of a difference.
  • Having a library allows you to watch your movies without driving to the store. This is also useful when people are visiting.
  • Some people are collectors.

Reasons that are economically sound:

  • There are a few movies that you’ll probably watch over and over. e.g. your top few movies, and kids’ movies.

An aside: I don’t buy DVDs, but I do buy books. The reason, though, is it’s hard to get new books in the library.


5 thoughts on “

  1. Tony Beeman

    I’d say that the mental cost of driving to the store when I want to see the movie, then driving back to return it on time is a lot higher than the rental fee.I’d rate the mental cost of a trip to the store and back, plus rental, at about $7-10.Owning a movie affords the opportunity to watch the movie whenever I want, and does satisfy some emotional need to “own” the movie, so I’ll give that a $2 value.Now, if I’m going to watch the movie more than once, even only two times, it makes more sense to me, at least emotionally.Of course, I still only own about 10 DVDs, and most of those are sets which can’t be rented easily, or gifts. (and I’d guess that gifts account for a large amount of DVD purchases).If I rented or bought a lot of movies, NetFlix seems like it’s clearly better than either of the other options.Books, on the other hand, I’m much more likely to use as reference, and to want to read when I definitely don’t want a trip down to the library. Plus, I’m a carnal lover of books, not a courtly one (to steal the Anne Fadiman analogy): I like to tag the corners of the pages, throw the books into my bag, etc.

  2. Ray

    That’s true; the need to return a movie is clearly a large inconvenience. Which is why Blockbuster used to make so much money from late fees.Agree that Netflix is a better option — but Netflix is a form of renting.

  3. Karen

    I think that the reason folks buy so many DVDs is because as Americans we’ve been trained since birth to be consumers. We are bombarded all the time with advertisements that tell us we need to own this and that. Our holidays emphasize purchasing presents for each other. This consumerism so pervades American culture that we buy these things despite the obvious lack of need for them (ala Ray’s original post).Economically it makes more sense to just rent, or belong to a service like netflix, but that doesn’t satisfy the craving for consumerism we have been trained to feel. I honestly think that even when cable companies perfect true on demand movies (any movie any time) buying seperate DVDs (or whatever format) will still persist.Ever notice how even if you own a movie on DVD, you probably will own watch it when you come across it on TV? 🙂

  4. James Baker

    I was just searching blogs,and I found your site, Friend! I like it!Please accept my compliments and wishes for your happiness and success.If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:win dvd downloadIt pretty much covers win dvd download related issues.All the best!


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