USB DVD Drive

This may be a really stupid question. I apologise as a noob.
I understand that the real point of this is to stick an external USB harddrive onto the ATV and then use NITO to access ripped DVD files off it.

Now, I have a reasonably large collection of DVDs and do not particularly want to put all of them on to a harddrive as they would only get occasional use. Also, this system needs to be spouse friendly. So my question is whether or not it is possible to attach an external DVD drive and access this via NITO (or some other app).

Yes I know I could just keep my DVD player but this again complicates things and it will make it harder for me to justify the ATV in the first place.

Maybe the only neat answer is a mac mini.

Thanks for any thoughts.