Articles

Amazon MP3s

In Gadgets on December 4, 2008 by Miche Tagged: , , ,

Once in a while I wake up with a slighty fuzzy head, set the coffee brewing and check my email – only to find a message from Amazon thanking me for my purchase. Seems I bought a boxed set of Peter Sellers DVDs at 2 a.m. So it goes.

Add instant gratification to the mix, and my impulse buying could escalate:

 

Screenshot from Amazon UK

Screenshot from Amazon UK

 

You download a small app (about 1MB for the Mac OS X version; Windows and Linux versions are also offered) which downloads your purchases and adds them to iTunes (or Windows Media Player). First time I tried it, nothing seemed to be happening, but that was because I have turned off the “open ‘safe’ files after download” option in Safari. No big deal: just go to the Downloads folder/stack and open the .amz file. Not quite as seamless as the iTunes experience, but close enough for jazz.

Files are encoded at 256 kbps in MP3 format, which is (I believe) not as good as the 256 kbps AAC offered by iTunes Plus, but my aging ears can’t tell the difference. Prices are variable: the first album I bought was Keynsham by the Bonzo Dog Band, which cost £4.89 – the same price as the CD. On iTunes it’s the standard £7.99. Looks like most albums cost the same as, or slightly less than, the CD versions. You can buy single tracks, of course. So far there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent of iTunes’ “complete my album” feature. The one drawback to my Bonzo purchase is that I don’t have the liner notes; I’ve bought several Bonzo CDs lately, and they come with extensive and interesting notes by Neil Innes.

Since I am not particularly interested in what’s new and cool, a lot of the music I buy is back-catalogue stuff and often cheaper on CD from Amazon than from iTunes. It could be that Amazon UK’s new offerings will mean that I never buy a CD again.

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