The new owner of legendary mail-order brand Columbia House is reportedly looking to revamp the service with a trusty old medium: vinyl. John Lippman, who recently bought the remains of the business at a bankruptcy auction, told The Wall Street Journal that vinyl’s resurgence in recent years is proof that consumers need more choice in the way they buy the pricey platters online.
For many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, Columbia House was the way to amass a music collection, thanks to its deals for "11 records or tapes for $1." It later shifted its focus to CDs and by 1996 hit a peak with $1.4 billion in revenue. When CDs fell out of favor with buyers, it dropped music and settled on DVDs and until recently still had about 111,000 subscribers. Over the years, ownership has gone from CBS to Sony to Bertelsmann AG to Najaf Cos and finally to a Pride Tree Holdings company called Filmed Entertainment Inc (FEI), at which Lippman is CEO.
Lippman put FEI, Columbia House’s immediate parent, into chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in August with $2 million in assets and $62 million in liabilities. (Creditors include Universal, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony, Anchor Bay and others.) WSJ reports that when no suitors arrived at a bankruptcy auction, he offered to buy the company for about $1.5 million.