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Which bootleg is rarer, this one or that one? OR How much is this bootleg worth? OR Is this CD Japanese?

Collectors often e-mail me or ask in the forums whether or not a particular bootleg title is rare. People generally want to know how rare a disc is in order to determine the trade value of a CD. The trade value of a given bootleg title is NOT necessarily related to the quantities that were pressed, it's usually more related to other factors and this document is designed to explain how these factors help determine whether or not a disc is "rare."

For starters, I'll no longer use the word "rare" because it does not accurately describe what collectors are trying to determine. When people ask how rare a title is, they are really saying "How difficult is it to obtain this title?" Like the fundamentals of economics, there is a certain supply (the number of surviving CDs that were pressed) for a given title and there is a demand ( the number of other collectors vying for the title).

When we speak of available quantities, keep in mind that ALL bootlegs are rare relative to the official releases. Even the ultra-rare collectibles like the Love Buzz 7" were produced in double the quantity of many bootleg titles. It is NOT uncommon for a bootleg to be pressed in a quantity of 500 discs. I know the quantities pressed for a few titles and some well known labels like Scorpio (Down With Me) only pressed bootlegs in batches of 500 or 1000. When you compare the most common bootlegs with the most common official releases, the difference is even greater! Age also has much to do with bootleg quantities. Bootlegs pressed three years ago tend to be much easier to find than bootlegs pressed in 1992. Pressing variations affect quantities as well i.e. the Banned For Life digi-pack is more difficult to find than the jewel-case version.

Quantity is a factor, but it's not necessarily the most important factor. The uniqueness of a bootleg weighs heavily in how difficult a given title is to obtain. When a title is the preferred version of a performance date, more collectors desire the title, thus the demand for the title increases and the collectors who already own the title are less likely to part with it! Demand goes up, supply goes down -- see Dressed For Success or Va Te Faire Enculer for an example of titles being difficult to obtain simply because people who own the title don't want to part with it!

The prestige of a bootleg plays a role in how difficult it is to obtain a bootleg. Collectors will usually flaunt their Small Clone discs as the pride of their collection -- never mind that Help Me I'm Hungry and Mindblower are CDs you will never listen to more than once! People place a certain value on some titles or the labels that produce those titles, therefore the demand is high.

Distribution usually plays a huge role in how difficult it is to obtain a bootleg title. Many of the bootlegs produced in Japan are difficult to obtain because they tend to be pressed in small quantities AND they have barely been distributed amongst the collectors in the rest of the world. Some labels appear to have distributed their discs in the US, some have not. Most bootlegs in the Nirvana Bootography are of European origin but not all of Europe has access to the same titles. South American titles are being produced today, who knows what we may be scouring Brazilian eBay for in a year!

The quality of a bootleg is usually a very determining factor in how difficult it is to obtain a title. Even when the supply is low, there is rarely any demand for a crappy bootleg. Unless you are a completist, nobody likes to trade for junk.

These are some of the more important factors in determining how difficult it is to obtain a bootleg. A very good indication of the supply and demand for a CD can be found in every bootleg review. You will be able to see how many people are listed as owning a title and how many people want a title. When the number of owners is low and the number of people who want a title is high, you can be assured that the CD is difficult to obtain. For a quick snapshot of the most common and most desired titles, check out the member collections page that has a top 25 listing for both.

[Everything Cory and I feel is pertinent is in the Nirvana Bootography reviews. If you feel that we've left something out you can submit a reader review. If you feel we have made an error (not a difference of opinion) then please e-mail me so I can look into it. If you have a question you feel the review has not answered PLEASE ask it in the DN forums instead of e-mailing me.]

As with any collection, go with what you LIKE. If you enjoy your discs, you'll never lose.

Good luck!