DVD Packaging on the Cheap
Okay, so you've made your killer app of a movie, authored a DVD and you're ready to sell it, or just give it way to friends. What is the most economical way to do this? You want to put out something that looks good, but doesn't cost much (we all want to do a lot with a little, right?), so what's the best setup that will be the best for cost-to-profit?
After doing a little DVD work on the side, a simple yet elegant product consists of three elements: a printable DVD, a clear, standard-sized DVD case, and (if you want to ship it) a mailer.
One of the best ways to make your disc look professional is to print a nice graphic directly to it. This can be done with any number of inkjet printers (I use an Epson R200) that come with a CD/DVD tray allowing you to slide your disc inside of the beastie, which then prints right on it as if it were paper. The cons of this process (which may make you consider outsourcing if you have a large number) are that you can only print one at a time, and it takes a very slow 2-3 minutes.
Inkjets are notorious ink hogs, so care must be taken to keep your costs low. Ink cartridges aren't cheap, so dedicating a printer specifically for this purpose is a good idea. You can also drop your printing level down a notch, which will print your label slightly lighter, but give you more ink in the long run. If you're really enterprising, you can ditch the carts all together and go with a continuous ink system, which pumps the ink from external bottles. I use the cartridges on the lighter setting and labels cost me about .25 each.
Next you'll need inkjet printable DVDs, and I like the ProDisc brand from Meritline. They are reliable, and you can print all the way to the hole on the "hub printable" versions. The 8x model can be had for .24 if you buy a lot, or .26 if you don't. I like the white surface, but you can also get cool shiny surfaces for that futuristic look.
While there are a lot of different DVD cases, I prefer a clear, standard-size box. There are cheaper alternatives (like clamshells), but none will fit into a DVD rack, which means they are destined to get lost. A clear box will fit in anyone's rack, and since you can see through it to the label, it removes the need for box artwork, saving you some more dimes. These run about .24-.28 depending on how many you buy.
If you need to mail your masterpiece, a plain mailer works very well. This foldable box runs about .17 to .24 based on number purchased (although Meritline was out of stock as of this writing), while shipping will set you back a little over one dollar.
So there you go. If you do all the work yourself, your total cost of materials and mailing should just be a hair over two bucks. Charge $10-15 as your price and you don't have to sell too many units to make it all worth your while. And that's the dream, isn't it?