I finally decided to take the solution into my own hands, and in the best Blue Peter tradition I decided that with the aid of a little sticky-backed plastic the solution was much closer to home. I’m very please with the outcome, so I offer you the following practical suggestions.
The first thing needed is a cardboard box of suitable dimensions. The best ones I’ve found for the purpose are used to supply Corning Costar 5ml or 10 ml disposable pipettes. The width of the boxes is perfect for DVDs and each box can store 27 discs. They are, however, a little too tall, so some careful cutting is required. I would recommend that you choose a standard height of somewhere between 14 and 15 cm up from the base; if you slip below 14 cm the top of the DVDs will show, but if you go too much towards 15 cm then covering with tape (often 5 cm wide) becomes less convenient since you will need an extra circuit of tape to neatly cover the box. About 14.2 cm may be ideal.
A Stanley knife is the most efficient method for cutting the top off the boxes, but in this age of litigation I should point out that knives are potentially dangerous and you carry out this step at your own risk. If you have any doubt that you can use it safely then a sharp pair of scissors is a sensible alternative. You will need a straight edge to cut against – a metal ruler or the back-edge of a saw are ideal.
Having cut the box to the appropriate dimensions, it’s time to cover it with some suitable tape. Standard brown packing tape is feasible, but not a very interesting option. Several alternatives are possible; I’ve used Floor Marking tape manufactured by Advance because it was available from a local supplier, but I notice two other UK suppliers with interesting colour and pattern options: Marnic and Le Mark (who even offer a camouflaged tape, if that happens to light your candle).
With careful application of tape it should be possible to cover the whole box using just three circuits of tape. One roll of tape should then be sufficient to cover 7 or 8 boxes.
Overall, a pretty satisfactory and relatively cheap storage option. I recognise that the availability of the Corning boxes I’ve suggested are a bit unusual – you need to be involved in lab research, or know someone who is, to have these at your disposal. Please use the comment facility if you’ve got more readily available alternatives you’d like to recommend.