Columbia House files for bankruptcy

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columbiahouseOne of the best sources for stuffing your music library back in the day is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy after nearly 20 years of declined sales.

Columbia House — you know, the ones who would run the ‘Get X amount of records/CDs/tapes for 1 cent’ promotions — filed for bankruptcy on Monday.

“This decline is directly attributable to a confluence of market factors that substantially altered the manner in which consumers purchase and listen to music, as well as the way consumers purchase and watch movies and television series at home,” company director Glenn Landberg said, per Rolling Stone.

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It’s no surprise that Columbia House has struggled, although news of their bankruptcy certainly brings back some nostalgia for that time when their advertisements seemed to be in every other magazine, or when they arrived in the mail with a sheet of stamps that had the covers of albums they were offering. Stick the stamps on their card, tape a penny on there, send it in the mail, and bam — soon you’d get a glorious box full of music in the mail.

Here are some old fliers that popped up on Twitter:

There was a catch, of course — you had to agree to buy X amount of music over a certain time span, which sometimes involved their overly-inflated club prices, then you also had to send that card back every month or get stuck with their pick of album of the month (think I got sent Britny Fox’s debut album once that way). And, if I recall, the quality of the product wasn’t always at the level of a store-bought album, especially the ones you’d get from BMG. But Columbia House and the cheaper/generic version of Columbia House — BMG — were great ways to grow your music collection in a hurry as you could join, quit, then join again and get another box of music. I lost count of how many times I did that, although it was reflected in my CD collection quickly growing into the triple digits despite being a poor college kid with no money.

It’s a reflection of ever-changing times in music over the years. In some ways it’s for the better, in some ways it isn’t. But I still have an impressive music collection, and I have those Columbia House promotions to thank.

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