For those alive during the era of “11 cassette tapes for a penny,” you may be surprised to hear that Columbia House is relaunching its mail order business. Instead of offering tapes and CDs, the new service will involve vinyl records.

Since its inception in 1955, Columbia House has given music lovers the opportunity to receive CDs, records, 8-track and cassette tapes via subscription service for the introductory cost of one cent. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company’s revenue peaked in 1996 at around $1.4 billion. In 2010, it left the music industry and focused on DVD sales until declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy this August.

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Just a few months after the filing, Columbia House is planning a comeback. Since vinyl album sales rose 52% in the first half of this year — according to the Recording Industry Association of America — the company is capitalizing on the trend and will return to one of the very first products they sold. However, they will most likely not offer its famous old-school pricing.

“You can see a yearning and an interest to try a new format,” John Lippman, the company’s current owner, told WSJ. “Convenience is not the end-all be-all in experiencing media.” Columbia House will join other vinyl subscription services that launched in recent years, such as VNYL and Vinyl Me, Please. VNYL sends one to three albums per month, based on musical preference, while the latter delivers one custom pressing that has exclusive features.

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As for how the new Columbia House service will work, WSJ notes it will provide “some ability to choose the records, genres of music and possibly other types of media” subscribers receive. “Our goal is to give consumers the ability to select music that they will love,” Lippman said.


Contact the author at marie.lodi@jezebel.com.

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