An open letter to the people that make CD album cases

A stack of CD cases.

Dear designer of CD album cases,

While I can understand that the classic plastic jewel case for a CD presents some creative limitations I need to inform you that the alternatives you have produced, notwithstanding the innovate ideas that spawned their design, should be discontinued immediately. We understand that your client is an offbeat, self-styled indie group who feel that wrapping their music in anything short of a masterpiece of origami made from beautifully decorated cardboard would be a betrayal of their whole ethos, but they're wrong, you're wrong, and you need to go back to the classic case.

It's a matter of practicality. Cardboard either grips the CD so tightly that scissors or pliers are required to remove it, or grips it so loosely that your intricate packaging is transformed into a complex mechanism that ejects the CD on opening. The point of a CD case is to protect the CD. If your case does that job to the extreme that the CD can't be removed or simply falls out at the drop of, well, a CD, then it has failed.

Arguments about aesthetics and design are subjective and can go round forever, so let's move on to the simplest and most obvious reason why exerting effort in making a fancy CD case is pointless. It is simply that the vast majority of people who still buy that album on CD only open the case once - to take the CD out and rip it onto their MP3 players. After that your creative effort that you slaved over for months will spend its remaining days gathering dust on a shelf. Yes, the little booklet about the album is nice, but that too will be used once (if at all) and then left to rot along with the case.

We're all very impressed with your ability to think outside the box. Now stop it.

Yours sincerely,

The dwindling number of people who still buy CDs

P.S. The National, I'm looking at you.


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