I didn’t start collecting CDs seriously until last year during the pandemic, but I still have my Justin Bieber and One Direction CDs that I begged my parents to get me in my tween years. I got rid of Sonny with a Chance (2010), Lemonade Mouth (2011), and Justin Bieber’s Believe (2012), however. I tossed aside most of my “childhood” CDs to make way for my love of rock and heavy metal. Though the special editions of Take Me Home (2012) and Midnight Memories (2013) were digibooks, I mostly grew up with jewel cases. They are simple and it’s easy to take the CD out of the case; sometimes simple is better.
My CD collection may not be huge, but I’ve collected enough CDs to know that there are different ways to pack CDs: digipaks, double digipaks, digibooks, slip-in cases, and double CD jewel cases. So for this post, I thought it’d be fun (and therapeutic) for me to talk about the pros and cons of these different types of CD packaging and whether or not they are better than jewel cases.
Let’s start off with slip-in cases, or cardboard sleeves, whatever you call it! I hate these things because I think they’re lazy and they don’t look official like a jewel case does; anyone can easily replicate a cardboard sleeve. It doesn’t protect the CD like a jewel case would and it’s dang hard to take the CD out of the sleeve. You have to gently slide the CD out of the case without scratching it (and I can’t hold onto the edges, so I have to touch the picture part of the disc). But most of all, there’s no freaking booklet! There’s no room to hold a booklet in a slip-in case, which sucks because I love reading the lyrics/booklet while listening to the album. The positive side is that you can easily stack many CDs on a shelf by using slip-in cases.
As a warning, a good chunk of these CD cases are from AC/DC, so I apologize in advance for offending their packaging. Anyways, next up we have what I like to call a complicated slip-in case; it’s like a mixture between a digipak and a slip-in case. The case overall is made out of cardboard and there’s an opening in the front cover to hold the booklet. Like my problem with the slip-in case, it’s hard to get the CD out of the case, meaning I have to slide the disc out with my bare hands without scratching it (and it slides against the cardboard too). The positive side is you can stack more CDs with this case and because it’s made out of cardboard, it didn’t get cracked on the way to my house; Amazon never bubble wrapped my CD orders, so the jewel cases got cracked easily.
Next we have digipaks. They can bug me to some extent, but if they’re done right, then I’m fine with them. This Iron Maiden’s Brave New World (2000) case is a digipak and for the most part, it’s good and the CD isn’t tightly in the case (a problem I’ll get to later on). The downside is that the booklet is stuck in the opening in the front cover. I tried to loosen it and pull it out, but I gave up after a few times because I was afraid I’d ruin the front cover. However, when the CD arrived at my house, the case wasn’t cracked because it was made out of environmentally friendly board. Digipaks look more official and good in photos, and the album cover looks great because sometimes with jewel cases, it can get scratched or the booklet inside the case can get dirty, so that can affect the front cover’s appearance. There’s none of that with digipaks, as long as you take good care of it.
We’ll come back to digipaks in a bit, but for now, let’s move onto digibooks. They’re basically books for CDs; the book features info about the album and has the song lyrics (sometimes), and there’s a sleeve at the end to hold the CD. They look cool, the book is sturdy, and I love being able to read the behind-the-scenes while listening to the album. However, for these Saxon digibooks, the sleeve is glued to the end (or last page) of the book. That makes it worse for me because not only do I have to slide the CD out of the case against the cardboard sleeve, but I also need to be careful not to break the sleeve (in case the glue dries out or I rip the case). The positive side is that the digibook didn’t get scratched on the way to my house (I ordered it from Amazon).
Next up are these complicated jewel cases that hold two CDs (thanks to a flap that can break easily) from the Queen 40 box sets. What I hate most about these jewel cases is that THE CDS ARE FREAKING JAMMED INTO THE CASE!!! It’s nearly impossible to take the CDs out of the case; I had to research how to take the CD out of the case without damaging the disc. My mom has to help me take the discs out, that’s how problematic they are. Every time I lift up the CD, I get scared that I’m going to scratch or break it. I’m happy that these Queen box sets have jewel cases because not many CD box sets come in jewel cases, but dang, I would’ve been fine if the case was double the size just to avoid this problem. On the plus side, these jewel cases are nice to look at and it comes with a booklet featuring the song lyrics; yay for me!
Remember when I said that the flap on these Queen albums can break easily? Well, the top right of the flap/CD holder for Sheer Heart Attack (1974) broke. These CD holders are not durable, in fact, the flap for the Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) case is close to breaking too. Thankfully, not all of the CD cases were damaged when they were shipped to my house (as I’ve heard that people suffered worse damages) and the cases themselves weren’t cracked. I won’t repeat everything I said in the previous paragraph, except that these jewel cases are problematic.
The only reason why I wanted the deluxe edition of Black Ice (2008) is because the book features the song lyrics; their digipak releases do not have the song lyrics for some strange reason. I bought a used version from a local record shop in town called Hungry Ear Records and they have a lot of cool stuff, music that I previously saw online and didn’t know existed in person. So, I love the book, but I hate the sleeve at the end (which is not glued to the end of the book). Months after I bought this album, the glue dried out, which created an opening at the bottom of the sleeve that holds the case. Now, I need to hold the book carefully, so that the CD doesn’t slip out of the sleeve. On the positive side, the digibook is cool to look at and I love reading the song lyrics while listening to the album.
Moving back to digipaks, can I just say that I HATE AC/DC’s digipaks! Visually, they look nice and the booklet isn’t stuck in the front cover, but dang their CDs are jammed into the case! I swear, there were multiple times when I thought the CD was going to break as I tried to get it out of the case. Thankfully, not all of AC/DC’s digipaks are like that, but dang, why do they have to make the CD holder so complicated? Is it too much to ask for a stinkin’ jewel case?!?!
The AC/DC Live: 2 CD Collector’s Edition (1992) is double the trouble and more stressful than a regular digipak because I have to jam out two CDs, instead of one. There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than hearing that cracking sound when the CD is secured in the case or vice versa. My mom had to help me get the CDs out of the case at one point. I can’t say much about this release, other than the fact that the music inside is freaking awesome! The front cover is slightly ripped because this used gem had tape on the front when I bought it from the Book Off.
In conclusion, jewel cases are the way to go and there’s no other way to do it for CDs. Ok, fine jewel cases do have their downsides as they can get cracked easily, the booklet can be hard to take out of the front cover sometimes, and the case can get ugly overtime if you don’t take care of it. There’s pros and cons to everything, but I love my (regular) jewel cases because they’re simple, that’s what I grew up with, and most importantly, I can easily take the CD out of the case.
As the times evolve, creators have a tendency to change things that never needed to be touched up to begin with. For example, Blue’s Clues (1996 – 2006) was doing perfectly fine with their normal format: the host (Steve or Joe) sings “Play Blue’s Clues” when they’re about to play Blue’s Clues, they look for clues, get the mail from Mailbox, they skidoo somewhere, find the last clue and solve Blue’s Clues, finish the day and then sing the “So Long Song.” Then for some stupid reason, the creators decided to make some changes to the show in the last season (now you know why the show ended, haha).
They got rid of the “So Long Song” and replaced it with this weird “Goodbye Song,” and shortened the show format to make room for a new segment at the end of the remaining episodes, Blue’s Room, which eventually became a show of its own. Now, there’s a reboot of the series and they made all these changes to the show to make it all hip and cool, which makes me so mad because the show didn’t even need a reboot in the first place. Like with AC/DC, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
The whole point of that rant was to show that the CD packaging people keep playing with ideas on how to package CDs when really jewel cases are perfectly fine (as long as you ask Amazon to bubble wrap your CDs when you order them). Despite all the complications with my CD cases, I’m impressed that I collected all these weird CD cases in such a short time that I’ve been collecting CDs; I’m close to becoming an official CD collector, haha! So, besides asking Amazon to bubble wrap your CDs when you order them, my other advice is to read/watch reviews of CDs that you plan to purchase; I didn’t know there was a review of the Queen 40 box sets on YouTube until after I ordered them.
Let me know in the comments below about any problems you’ve encountered with CD cases/packaging!
Take care and see ya real soon!