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DVD printable media allow people to create their own disc labels, either through the application of a user-generated adhesive label or, more exotically, with specially coated discs that permit laser etching for grayscale images directly on the disc's surface. DVD printable media are not very expensive nowadays and in fairly common use. The advantages are quite obvious, especially when a disc is used as a part of marketing materials.

Alongside DVD printable media, customized inserts are another popular means of creative expression for many users and hobbyists. And when you talk about inserts, you naturally bring up the topic of DVD cases. Unlike DVD printable media, however, cases are sadly not very customizable. But one of the most distinctive things about DVDs is the variety of packages in which they are available. Many imaginative designs have protected many a disc (or more, in the case of boxed sets and the like) through the almost two decades since DVD’s debut, but it wasn’t always clear what would be the best way to present them, and in the early years a wide proliferation of styles existed. This ninth article is a short retrospective of such efforts now seldom seen, if at all.

Some of the earliest DVDs had been sold in the jewel cases standard for CDs, but this look was quickly discontinued in order to avoid any possible consumer confusion and was soon relegated to use only by budget titles from bottom-rung companies. In Asia, where Video CDs or VCDs had a fairly substantial market share, DVDs were still packaged in jewel cases, at least for a while longer. In the United States, which never had a VCD market, larger slipcases were used, where the disc was accessed through a slot-like opening from the bottom.

Warner Brothers and MGM were notable holdouts, insisting on cardboard snap cases from the very beginning. But the most successful and widely adopted DVD case of all is the keep case, resembling a book like the snap case but made of much more durable plastic. Over eighteen thousand DVD movies are packaged in keep cases. Eventually, even video games delivered on DVD came to use the keep case (though it was video games that first used keep cases – more on this below), and it proved so popular that one company’s name, Amaray, became a genericized trademark to denote all keep cases.

Of particular utility was the keep case’s ability to store paper inserts or booklets of even considerable thickness via plastic clips on the inside cover. Cover art is displayed on a paper sleeve protected behind an integrated transparent outer jacket. Special keep cases have been designed to provide for multiple-disc sets, such as those used with TV shows. Discs are held in place by a small “hub” that fits into the center hole of a DVD. Keep cases used for video games sometimes have an extra protrusion for holding memory cards. Indeed, keep cases were first introduced to transport video games, all the way back in the days of cartridge-based consoles. Such keep cases have become collectibles, as most video games then were sold in pressboard boxes. Nowadays, keep cases are standard packaging for disc-based video games.