What’s happened to the market for used CDs?
We’ve had a pile of CDs at the library that need to find a home. They’re things that were primarily donated, that we already have, and if we turned them into money, we could get things we need. I tried one online dealer, with a setup where you scanned the UPC and they’d give you a bid, and they were offering 15¢ each. No, I don’t think so….shipping isn’t free. At SecondSpin.com, things were a little better, generally $1 if they weren’t already overstocked wirh that title. But surely I could do as well locally. so packed up the lot (123 CDs, counting discs in boxed sets, and 8 cassettes) and went off to Half-Price Books, which is the used record store in Cleveland that actually deals with classical (The CD-Game Exchange stores will have a few tired Charlotte Church, Bocelli, and “Best of Beethoven” offerings, though I’ve found good obscure things in the bargain bin.). These were nice things, not junk, lots of obscure European labels, some items never opened.
I was offered $25. About 20¢ each. I politely declined, without pointing out the obvious fact that it was an insulting offer. I was told, “This sort of thing doesn’t sell well for us here.”
Back in my Ann Arbor days, I was a fiend for used record stores. I didn’t often sell, but I remember getting more than that in dollar terms, 30 years ago. Yes, I was probably spoiled.
It’s Mayfield, on the east side of Cleveland Metro, next to Beachwod, fer cry-ay-ay. There’s a classical audience there, and they sell to HPB, because HPB has stock. Why aren’t they doing better at it? Well, for one thing, they’re charging a lot…sometimes you can pick up the same item remaindered at Berkshire Record Outlet for cheaper. They’re selling a copy of v. 10 of Carwood’s Byrd Edition for $11.95…yet it’s recent, and cheaper than new, but not a used CD price. Second, nobody there knows jack. When I search for classical there, I search 4 categories. Besides classical, there’s New Age, World Music (any classical CD with the name of a country in the title), and Christian/Religious (most but not all of the sacred classical). While In Classical, I have to dodge the jazz, pop and New Age that has made it in. I was amused to see a recording of Mompou piano music that made it into “Religious” on the strength of the picture of a monk on the cover. No, I don’t expect every wage drone to know who Mompou was (would be nice, ain’t gonna happen), but there are clear things to indicate that this isn’t religious music (titles that can be guessed though an elementary knowledge of English cognates, performer different than composer, etc.) Now, there’s a depression on, young people are particularly hard hit by unemployment, so why can’t they hire a music student or somebody else with a clue?
Most classical CDs there sell for $5.98. If my offer was typical, we’re talking about a 3000% markup. Now, I know you have to pay for the building, help, lights, the chance that you’ve bought something ultimately destined for the $1 clearance shelf, etc. It seems to me that a buck would have allowed for that. I would have taken a buck to be done with it, and been most happy if offered more. I bought some things there, and would have bought more, but the markup stuck in my craw. It’s a heck of a deal for them, for things that generally go $15-20 new.
Of course, I’m still faced with the problem of how to peddle these. Maybe my readers have some good ideas that are not labor-intensive.