Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ordering Full Priced CDs On-Line: Moving Backward

I have received two gift cards to a chain of Christian bookstores that I decline to give free advertising to by naming. Today I tried to redeem them via the chain's web site. I found a heavy metal CD and a couple of books I wanted.

First off, gift cards should have web redemption codes printed on them. These don't. To use the cards on-line you have to e-mail the company the 19 digit serial number of the card and they will return to you a code you can use for the web store. Can you say "inefficient?" How about "cumbersome?"

I have heard that the web store in question offers downloads but I didn't see any in the music I was looking at. CDs are cool and all, but ever since the iTunes Music Store came online I've been enjoying the instant gratification and failure to collect dust of music downloads. That I have to buy pieces of plastic if I want to use these gift cards (which are also pieces of plastic) for music seems very 20th century, limiting and wasteful. Save the physical media for people who WANT physical media. I'm happy with a soft copy so why spend money mailing me pieces of plastic I will only use the one time when I rip them into iTunes on my comptuer?

Speaking of money, most full length albums at this web store are $12 or $14, with some reissues and complations being less. I know that's in line with what other retail outlets get for major lable original releases but since almost all of my purchases coming from eMusic or ITMS in recent years it really feels pretty "out there." I mean, list price for Newsboys "In The Hands of God" on CD is $18. This is a standard album of 10 songs, all between three and five minutes. Amazon has it on sale for $14, which is still too much, but at least they have the decency to also offer it as an MP3 download for the more reasonable $9.

Even with an "eMusic Basic" account (other plans have a much lower cost per song) you could get two 11 track albums for the cost of Amazon's MP3s of the album. At full price, that Newsboys CD costs the same as I pay for about 50 tracks from eMusic. Not only does everything I know about The Newsboys tell me they will never make a record worth $18 to me, but why would I pay that for any album when I can get hours of the music of my choice from eMusic for the same cost? ...especially if I have to wait for it ship via UPS?

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