Now, before everyone gets all into a huff about "Well, at least we're showing our support for music and giving our hard-earned money to artists we enjoy rather than overpriced coffee", yeah, I never said what you weren't doing wasn't great. My confusion isn't about whether or not you *should* do it because, again, I approve and you should be spending your money on your favorite artists to show them love and support.
My issue is that I don't own an 8-track player simply because I have no idea of how to go about buying one. However, there are several options for buying a means of playing cassettes and so if you're already willing to spend $5 or more on a cassette itself, why not spend the money to buy a means of playing it?
This interests me on two levels. First off, it's like you're saying "I love this artist enough to buy their cassette... but not enough to buy a means of playing it". And, let's be fair, if you're a fan of an artist who happens to release an album, demo or EP on cassette, odds are you will find others who are doing the same so at what point do you say enough is enough? How many cassettes do you buy out of good will before you actually buy a way to listen to them?
My second concern is the fact that you're buying this cassette and not listening to it, which is its intention, and that is kind of disrespectful in a way. On one hand if a cassette is limited to 20 and you have one of these 20 copies but aren't listening to it, it's like a slap in the face to someone who might have missed out on buying it because it was so limited and this other person might have listened to it more.
But, climbing down from the "people who own tape decks are superior" notion, I will say that if an artist takes the time to create music for you to listen to on any physical format, don't you think they'd want you to listen to it on that format? It'd be like supporting your favorite baker by buying a cake but only looking at it and never eating it. (Please do not tell me that people do this)
As someone who wants to help more than judge, I will offer these two suggestions for you. And yes, you can go to your local thrift store, tag sales, etc. and likely find a means of playing a cassette for less than this, but if you're not into that for some reason I have found two great deals on cassette players I feel should give people enough reason to stop saying "I'll buy this to support you but I don't have a way to play it".
1) Jensen MCR-100 Cassette Player/Recorder Carry Handle ($28.99)
[purchase info here]
I used to have a tape deck like this, which I also bought new from Walmart some years ago. I don't know where the microphone for it went and over time (after a few years, maybe three?) the adapter broke and thus I needed to use a universal adapter I already had for my keyboard but, yeah, this was a good cassette player which lasted me maybe four or five years-- well, the one I had before this one which is similar. (I also used it a lot more than anyone else likely ever would) It only recently began to eat the cassettes and perhaps could be fixed with a cleaner but, you know, I have this bad habit of collecting things which play cassettes.
Aside from plugging this in, you can also use batteries and I always thought it'd be great to record interviews or even live music performances straight to cassette with it. They make ways to transfer cassettes to your laptop and convert them to MP3s and the such so it would be fun. In some sense, this is like a larger version of the portable one (which is Walkman-like) but the difference here is that you can actually record using this. It has this small, built in microphone but also comes with an external one which I have used and must admit works really well.
If you are a musician it might be advised to buy this cassette player, record to it and then upload the songs to your computer using a cassette to MP3 converter (Which I don't own but probably should one day buy) as things which are recorded to cassette somehow tend to sound better. But you could also do that for those who want to hear your music digitally and then if you release it on cassette dub it straight from tape to tape. I really feel like this is an inexpensive home recording studio in a way and more people should be using it.
2) Jensen SCR-68B Stereo Cassette Player with AM/FM Radio, Includes 50 AA Batteries ($12.26)
[purchase info here]
Yes, this is essentially a Walkman. But not only will it play cassettes for you, it will also play the AM/FM radio which is a good thing if you're ever in a severe storm situation and lose power. Oh yeah, and if the description up there wasn't clear enough this also comes with 50 AA batteries so you can power it for quite some time.
If you feel like batteries are a waste this does have an option to plug it in, which such portable cassette players when I was growing up did not have. I was under the impression this came with the power adapter but it does not (and the one from the previous item is not compatible) but luckily I have a universal adapter due to various other cassette players which came before these two.
So if you feel weird about sitting at home listening to this and using batteries, you can plug it in. The only downside to this versus the other cassette player is that you can only listen to it through earbuds/headphones as it does not have any speakers. (It does include earbuds) I like it because I can take my music on the go with me. I really seem to run out of digital music to listen to more often than not but always seem to have a cassette somewhere I can grab and put into a Walkman if I'm riding a bus or taking a walk.
If you buy these two items together from Walmart.com (cheap plug, they didn't pay me to say it) the total cost will be $38 and change and since that's over their set price of $35 you'll get free shipping. I highly recommend buying these two together but even if you don't want to spend that much on them you can always buy just one of the two, ship to store to save on shipping and/or look around other places for these same products but for less money (like eBay).