DVD Binder Covers: Quick and Dirty with Amazon Web Services and PHP

Originally published: 03/2006 by J Wynia

CD wallets are a great way to store lots of movies in MUCH less space than the boxes that the DVD's come in. Given how much crap that I already have on shelves (and lots of people I know are in the same boat), that's a good thing and makes more room in the home theater for refrigerators, pizza ovens and other theater goodies.

However, as Shelly has repeatedly reminded me, the discs themselves don't help one remember which of the 400+ DVDs it actually is. This is particularly true of movies that weren't blockbusters in the first place. I knew that I didn't want to put the DVD's back in their cases, but agreed that having the cover picture, and basic movie information would make picking out a movie much easier. Square "covers" the size of the disc themselves will go in binders or in really any sleeve type storage setup.

I figured that the Amazon web services API's and a quick PHP script could get me useful covers for the movies in these binders. I actually whipped up the script a few weeks ago, but took the time to go through the binders today and fill up the printer queue to the inkjet printer. The resulting stack of paper was taken past Shelly's scrapbooking area to trim them and the result is a bunch of binders that can be flipped through and you can tell what movie each is.

Because this is a quick and dirty hack, it has issues. If the editorial review is too long, it just chops it off. And, it seems to not find some stuff that you'd expect it too. C'est la vie.

My installation is up and available on this site. And, if you want to put it on your own PHP server (or the traffic gets too insane on my installation to cut me off from Amazon's API's, you can grab the full source package. Make sure you set the Amazon developer token to yours. It's under GPL terms.


Paula on 3/21/2006
I put all of my CDs into a 256 disc binder, with the paper covers. I am beginning to notice a good many more scratches on the discs, in a very short time. Have you had this at all?
J Wynia on 3/21/2006
I haven't, but DVD's tend to get shuffled through with less frequency than CD's do, so I may just be behind on the inevitable. Are you using the CD inserts or a single thickness of paper (like these printouts are)?
Paula on 3/22/2006
CD inserts. But I also have 3 teenagers stealing them and putting them back wrong at times, so it might be their usage and not the holder. I am constantly finding CDs and DVDs (and video games) out of covers all over the house.
Josh on 8/24/2006
I think that was a great idea, I also have my dvd collection in a binder. Some dvds you can't tell what movie it is with out squinting your eyes. This is the perfect fix.
jeremy faust on 12/18/2006
I think this is a great idea... Additionally I have created a database of my movies... So I know what I have.. only bad thing is that I need to input this data statically copying and pasting data from IMDB.com ... I am now thinking how nice it would be to "add" a movie to my collection by simply adding an ASIN number into my application and having the cast, description, title, cover image etc. pulled into the DB automatically... Any thoughts on this?
jeremy faust on 12/18/2006
The main downside I see to my idea is that I want the ability to search the DVDs I own... By actor, title, genre, etc. ... I don't see a way to do this using this API... since you have to feed it a specific ASIN number... unless you build a function that searches ONLY ASIN numbers on Amazon that come from your own "static" list you create... Hmmmm... the possibilities???
J Wynia on 12/18/2006
I'd take a look at the Ant movie catalog: http://www.antp.be/software/moviecatalog/ Among doing things like automated IMDB fetching, you can use it to export your collection into lots of formats, including SQL statements. That would give you a catalog that you could do your maintenance on and use something like this script just to do the printed covers.
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