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Video packaging

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The innards — famous movie favorites like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Godfather — are one thing. But the boxes that distinguish ”collector’s-edition sets” from a mere pile of videocassettes are something else indeed. Unlike the packaging that most other presents come in, the decorated cardboard casing of a video gift set is a big part of the gift itself. And that’s what makes so many of the packages’ physical drawbacks so annoying.

First, some boxes are just too bloody big to store anywhere. Take Disney’s Beauty and the Beast box and Republic’s The Quiet Man set: They’re tombstone-size slabs much too tall to fit in many shelving systems. Second, size aside, gift-set boxes are too many different sizes. So, if you own more than one set, they look terrible on a shelf together. Here, the video industry should take a cue from the record business and settle on a handful of standard box sizes.

Third and fourth, some fine points: Since the taller boxes won’t fit on most shelves, you end up laying them on their sides — yet for obscure technical reasons, videophiles say cassettes should be stored vertically. Even worse, some boxes (such as the Terminator set) are so chintzy that they don’t include separate sleeves for the cassettes; leave these tapes lying around the living room for a few weeks, and it could be the movie that’s terminated.

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