Is Self-Amortization A Fool’s Paradise? The Monk Sells Off Records.

Much better unretouched photo of The Monk's racks

Much better unretouched photo of The Monk’s racks

Sharp eyed readers of this blog may have noted that while I talk a lot about
wanting to buy things, this has not been happening lately. All talk. No action. Since I am working 6 days a week and am nowhere near having a record buying budget, I am
exploring options which experience tells me I may regret one day. But that’s only because I sport what I’ll refer to as the “collector’s gene.” I knew that I had this by age 5 when I encountered “Odd Rods” stickers. I had to have the whole series! Within two years I had begun my obsession with pop music, and when I found out you could buy recordings that
were not strictly contemporary, that changed the way I related to music. It became yet another thing to collect. The most precious thing to collect of all, really!

Once I learned about used record stores in high school, I had the occasional purge of the collection. I only bought back a pinch of the prog rock that I deep-sixed by 1980. But the advent of CD as a reality for me in 1985, drove some questionable acts which I’ve come to refer to as the Great Vinyl Purge. These took place between 1985-1987. When I discovered that I could trade in old records for new CDs, I made a lots of hasty trades! I naively assumed that within a few years, all of it would be reissued in the now preferred format. Mea culpa!

By the 1990s, I realized that perhaps I was too hasty, and found myself re-buying back many of the records that I had purged some years earlier. In 1990 you sure couldn’t hear The Buggles “Adventures In Modern Recording” on anything but a 12″ disc. The upside? Many of these records I bought for $4.99, then traded in for $3.00 worth of value, I could now find for as little as a dollar. And at this time I had lots of disposable income. Tempered by the experience, I looked back at relinquishing any record [even if I bought the CD of the title] as something to avoid as I had by this time crossed the line into “recreational” record collecting. That is to say, buying records I not only didn’t need for the music contained within, but would in fact never ever actually play! Alternative cover designs from different countries were like musical crack for me and I began to buy any records I liked just… well, just because!

I may have the CD to hear the music but a picture sleeve has its own rewards. If I had not moved and gotten off of my so-called career path a dozen years ago, it might still be the way I collected music now. But the fact remains, I earn now, after a dozen years of moving into another state, about what I earned in the early-to-mid-90s at the Big Multinational Corporations I designed software for. And my expenses are bigger than they’ve ever been. In response to these realities, I’ve been mulling over a sell-off of some of the collection. I have many records that I don’t actually need for any sane reason. I have core collections that I will probably leave untouched. The works of JAPAN, let’s say. But I have some Bauhaus classics that I also have on CD. And I don’t “collect” Bauhaus, so why not cash ’em in? There are lots of new things out there that I will derive more use from than having redundant 12″ records of.

Another area rife for culling are the artists that I used to collect, but who got jettisoned in the early 90s from the “core collection” status that they once had: Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Kate Bush. I only even listen to these acts albums on rare occasions. Why not sell off the buckets of CD singles I have off rack, boxed, never to be listened to anyway? There is some rare stuff there that could yield major dinero if sold artfully. Quite frankly, the music that these acts made – mid 80s synth pop, by and large; I now view as somewhat tiresome and shallow. The ’85-’93 period wasn’t exactly a golden age to my ears. At nearly 50, I have a better idea of what gives me listening pleasure today. Much of this isn’t it.

Finally, there exist many unexplored tributaries in my collection that for one reason or another, I never followed up on for one reason or another. The odd album or single by someone I didn’t like enough to “collect.” These may add admirable depth to a collection that focuses thousand of releases on just dozens of artists, by and large, but to what avail? I can’t afford the things I really want, so why not dispense with the chaff; pleasant though it may be on occasion?

So with that off of my chest, I’ll only point out what keen eyes may have already noticed: the crass, animated button added on my sidebar labelled “Own The Monk’s Records.” If pressed, the viewer will be taken to my current auctions. I still haven’t worked out whether I will use the Discogs marketplace to sell in or not, but for now, I’ll start out with Ebay and see where the chips fall. At a certain point, collecting records for its own sake takes a rewarding hobby and makes of it a neurosis. I am also hoping that by cutting myself free of this music that does not repay my active listening that I can get to a point where I can buy that which will.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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6 Responses to Is Self-Amortization A Fool’s Paradise? The Monk Sells Off Records.

  1. Tim says:

    I started to go down your path some time ago. Easily 15 years ago I said ‘whoa! wait a sec…I don’t NEED a 7″ edit of a song that I already think is too short. I don’t need every twelve inch.” I’m glad that I put the brakes on when I did. About ten years ago I went on a large tear through the cd part of the library which filled two book cases. I did quite well. I did try to abide by one rule: it is easier to sell this stuff than it is to buy it back (especially in the condition what I sold was in). I regret maybe two cd’s out of the literally hundreds that I sold. A lot of that stuff sat on a shelf and I never listened to it, a lot of it was very, very rare. I sincerely hope that all the folks who bought that from me have been enjoying it.

    Last year I did round two….or I tried to do round two. I’ve posted some pretty hard to find items on Amazon at what I think are reasonable prices and had all of one taker. During the salad days of the sale ten years ago all of that stuff would be gone by now and at twice the price I am asking now. I sincerely think that music sharing blogs and torrents have sucked the resale value from what I am now trying to move. I don’t mean that pejoratively, there are some blogs out there that do sharity of hard to find out of print items and while technically illegal I give them kudos for preserving what the copyright holders are not. Anyhow…best of luck selling what you chose to part with. I hope you receive a fair deal on it and make a bunch of people happy in the process.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – One thing that haunts me is that the days of buying records mail order may be all but impossible with the current price of shipping. I lived in Central Florida growing up and by the time I was in my mid twenties, I had to turn to mail order to get what I wanted. That was a mind blower for me since many things I wanted were too obscure to find in stores – which were still plentiful at the time. As stores began to dry up thanks for the evil of P2P a dozen years ago, this made finding anything I wanted all but impossible without mail order. Now, prices of the records are cheap [see P2P again as you sagely point out] but it’s the postage that’ll kill ya! I can find almost anything that I want for very affordable prices [~ <$20 per release] but the postage is 5-10x the cost of the music! And it will only get worse over time! I am seeing the day [soon] when I'd better hope that a group's obscure B-side is available on iTunes, or else I simply won't be able to afford it. The three recent ABC records I bought for a total of four tracks of relevance cost me almost $40 and two of these had domestic postage!!!

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  2. Tim says:

    Postage is really a bear for another industry that I follow. Some of the international customers are complaining that between shipping and the VAT taxes it often costs them more to pay to ship something that it is to buy it (I am referring to new product here). It has affected what I buy and how I buy it. I know that anything sold that may be reproduced easily digitally is going to take a hit on sales due to piracy but content providers are starting to take a hit, too, from people like me who used to buy who are now saying, “sorry, just not worth it anymore.”

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  3. Echorich says:

    My purge came in 2005 as I was moving from NYC to Tampa. My signifcant other (at the time) was concerned that we would be using over 1/3 of the POD space we were renting to ship our lives to FL with just my music – another 1/3 for my clothes was already a given. So to placate growing concerns I spent 48 continuous hours – with maybe 3 hrs sleep reviewing 1600 cd’s and over 2200 pieces of vinyl. When all was said and done I had only been able to abandon the pre punk/new wave albums of my youth – minus Bowie/T-Rex/Roxy Music and Krautrock, and my entire collection of techno and acid house of the very late 80’s and early 90’s. The 70’s albums I sold in bulk in the West Village and didn’t even haggle over what I was offered. For some reason I earned some good money on my collection of EBM/New Beat/Techno/Acid. My Frankie Bones and Praga Kahn went for more than I purchased them! In the end it was a drop in the bucket really, but it was a chore I really never want to ever do again.

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  4. I confess a fair portion of my record and CD collection is sitting in an undisclosed but air-conditioned location in a storage unit, and I haven’t seen much of it for five years now. When I am finally reunited with it permanently, there will likely be a lot of stuff I don’t care about as much anymore, but fortunately I only sell stuff when I want to rather than when I have to, though I’ve certainly been as broke as a hobo on numerous occasions!

    Music-sharing and P2P sites may be currently weakening the market for what I call physical music, but ironically “vinyl” continues to be the hipster’s delight (at least around here) and when we get to the point where 3D printers are both cheap and able to reproduce the ancient runes/markings of actual records, we will ironically enter a new age where those selfsame sites allow us to create our own repli-cords with perfect artwork! Your mind, she is blown, yes?

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – 3D printing will probably never become ubiquitous if the use of petroleum based polymers and media is still driving the bus. You think industrialism in China would be an ecological problem! No, 3D printing needs to be plant-based with completely renewable resources providing the raw materials to really transform human culture. Starch-based, for example. Your guess is as good as mine as to how that goo will shoot through a piezo nozzle!

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