The Vinyl Collector: And the student becomes the master

By Alex Mosier

The Vinyl Collector

During Thanksgiving break in 2012, my girlfriend took a trip back to New Jersey to spend some time with her family.  As I’m sure most people know, small northern towns tend to have a better selection of vinyl record and music shops than tourist traps.  Thanks to her brother, who had some insight into where some of these little music holes were located, my girlfriend took a drive around, seeing what she could find. The problem was that she had no idea what she was looking for or what she was looking at in these stores.  She tried, at first, to make it a surprise by just asking simple, subtle questions like, “What bands would you like to have on vinyl?”

Naturally, something like that cannot be answered as easily as she may have hoped.

On the phone, I tried explaining the basic pieces of the puzzle to look for: band, album, year, and location printed, as well as anything that might be different than just an average copy of the record that was mass produced.  For example, sometimes you will come across a copy of the record that was made for radio station use, so it was printed some time before its mass release.  As soon as I explained this to her, her voice cracked with excitement and she hung up. A few hours later, she called me back and began hinting towards what she had found.  She even seemed to question whether or not her purchases were worth it.  I wouldn’t be able to confirm or deny this for a couple more days, but every guy knows that the only option when your girlfriend goes out of her way to find something for you is that you tell her how incredible it is.

She got back down south and presented me with the albums she had found.  As soon as I removed them from the bag the first that caught my attention was that the top album was a reprint.  She came across a 2009 re-mastering of Pearl Jam’s Ten.  At first glance, any vinyl collector would question the financial value of a re-mastered and reprinted album.  Naturally, I put the record on and sat around  listening to the greatest band of the last two decades, then the little tidbit of information that had slipped my mind resurfaced.  The reissue of the album included six previously unreleased songs.  This album was the only way to get a hold of these six songs on vinyl record.

Even with my experience collecting vinyl records, I still never thought to make full use of modern technology.  When I asked her why she picked up this record in particular, other than the fact that it is Pearl Jam, she showed me a simple website she accessed through her phone where you punch in that little code on the spine of the dust jacket and it gives you all of the purchasing options.  From here you see not what the record is valued at, but how much it is actually selling for.  To my pleasant surprise, the record store owners apparently made the same mistake in judgment that I had.  She picked up the album for $10, but people online where paying upwards of $45 for it. Personally, I would have more than likely overlooked this little gem, the six bonus tracks, and the value.  Luckily, she knew better and blended technology with classic vinyl research.