Not long ago Amoeba brought in an original 1964 Japanese pressing of the Beatles' A Hard Day's Night LP. Typically, we have found that we are able to fetch upwards of $250 for that record in Near Mint condition (which this copy was). However, the LP we purchased also had that strip of paper, printed primarily in Japanese, that it was originally purchased with back in 1964. "Big deal!," one might think, but, yes...it is.
The "obi," a term borrowed from the sash worn as a belt around the midsection of a kimono, is a piece of ephemera that many people throw away when they first crack open their Japanese vinyl. A word of advice: Don't do that! Because the Beatles album had that slim belt of paper, 45 years old and in almost all other cases, discarded, it was worth closer to $2,000!
Obi fans and collectors will nod their heads, "of course!" So much is the appeal of the fine attention to detail and the often beautiful "extra something" lent by the obi that, fairly early in the history of the CD, Japanese CD manufacturers began making LP replica CD's, complete with scale versions of their accompanying obis...and another voracious collectors' market was born.