which store sucks least?

Where should I buy CDs and DVDs now that CDnow has been absorbed by the Amazon juggernaut?

(I won't give Amazon my money because I don't approve of software patents, and a few years ago, they patented the act of ordering and shipping an item with a single click. More recently, they are attempting to patent having multiple shopping carts for a single user.)

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29 Responses:

  1. knowbuddy says:

    I was wondering the same thing. CDNow actually used to be almost-useful, and has now degenerated to the complete crapheap that is Amazon. I guess it's down to AllMusic for CD info now. I notice that you can buy stuff through them, but it kicks you over to Barnes & Noble. Dunno if that's good or not.

  2. ijon says:

    My favorite online bookseller is Powell's. A reasonable alternative to CDNow in music is BOL.

  3. rpkrajewski says:

    How about CD Universe ? Their prices are pretty darned good.

    • saintnobody says:

      i used to use cd universe, but i just don't trust them after this incident.

      of course, here's the best part, from the internetnews article:

      Maxus said that he decided to set up the site, titled Maxus Credit Cards Datapipe, and to give away the stolen customer data after officials at CDuniverse failed to pay him $100,000 to keep quiet about the security hole. Maxus claims the company agreed to the payment last month, but subsequently balked at initiating a wire transfer to a secret bank account because it might be noticed by auditors. After a week passed with no further contact from the company, Maxus said he put up his site and announced its presence Dec. 25th on an Internet Relay Chat group devoted to stolen credit cards.

      • rpkrajewski says:

        Although I wasn't using them back then. Indeed, when CDNow started its decline I pretty much stopped buying CDs on the net. CDUniverse is one of the few that actually discounts interesting stuff like Hrvatski and Funki Porcini.

  4. badger says:

    CDbaby's pretty good.
    For a specialized focus I like Middle Pillar.

  5. mendel says:

    Yeah, CDBaby's great. If it weren't for shipping
    cross-border, they'd be my usual shop.

    <lj user="marm0t"> pointed out their flavors feature.
    Does this not rock? I do believe it does.

  6. krow says:

    They are quite cheap, I have never had a problem with them (and they have a decent selection), they don't lie about what they have in stock and they have never screwed me (for that matter I know at least three people who have hit the over 1K mark of purchases with them without ever having a problem.
    They also have a nice setup for letting you hear tracks from the albums and they have the cleanest most graphic free design I have seen in a long time.

  7. gravilim says:

    I usually buy from Djangos...they're quick, have been reasonably priced (though I tend to buy used), and when you send an email to their CS department, you won't get a form letter back in reply. I like that.

  8. 1. Amazon.com dropped the single-click shopping patent claim almost 6 months ago.
    2. The Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") is the one responsible for this, and moreso than amazon.
    PTO is supposed to serve as a gateway, through whom you must maneuver before you can acquire a patent. When the standards are this low, you can hardly blame the rational company from trying to gain advantage - capitalism isn't about the "right" thing, it's the "profitable" thing.

    They're best hated for what they're currently doing beneath the radar in the realm of trademarks.
    They're trying to gain a monopoly on the word amazon. Do a search on UDRP proceedings and check out the shit they've already won - like "amazoncar.com" from a Korean man who likely didn't know how to defend.

    • jwz says:

      They settled their suit against B&N, but have not renounced their claim of "invention".

      I most certainly can blame people for taking advantage of the idiocy of our current patent laws. Just because you can take candy from a baby doesn't mean you should. Corporations are composed of people, and -- call me a nut, call me a crazy dreamer -- when I can, I choose not to do business with people whose behavior I find morally despicable.

      • The patent is "property".
        Right or wrong, it's "property" that is taken into account in valuations of the publically held corporations.
        The "invention" was given by the PTO office - you can blame folks for taking advantage of the idiocy,
        but it's akin to putting a bucket under a leak when there's a roof to fix.

        Whether they (Amazon) prosecute it or not, the difficulty is that once you've acquired a patent, you cannot dis-claim it without problems unto investors since that would be a loss onto the company's valuation, right? Akin to setting free part of your pet store stock and telling investors that those birds weren't really yours to sell in the first place - investors don't care about morals, they want dollars.

        We covered this patent in an IP course, and were told that Bezos himself spoke against it - which of course would be used against Amazon.com were any further prosecution attempted.
        (I have yet to check that story; it was maybe 2 weeks ago that we covered it).

        While the patent stuff is tough,
        I promise you that what they're doing with cease and desist lettters on domain names - a monopoly on all online use of the word "amazon" - is far, far, far more frightening than subsequent attempts to prosecute their "one click" patent.
        I'm far more likely to want to look up amazon statistics than seek to set up a one-click shopping cart,
        and I'm hardly one to fault anyone on boycotting Amazon.

        • jwz says:

          I completely reject your implication that all that matters is shareholder value, and that Amazon was somehow obliged to both apply for, and litigate based on, their patent, just because the patent system is screwed up. What, "it is the obligation of the strong to crush the weak"? Please.

          Yes, their trademark behavior is also completely despicable, and plenty enough reason to hate them in its own right.

          Hey, doesn't McDonald's have prior art on trademark abuse? Perhaps they should sue Amazon for un-licensed use of their proprietary business models.

          • midendian says:

            What if Amazon had not gotten that patent, and some other company applied for and received a similar patent, then sued Amazon? Amazon, trying to do something right by not filing the patent and just trying to do it's business, would now be legally in the wrong. To avoid this, companies file "defensive patents" -- that is, they file for the patent (whether they receive it or not, the filing establishes prior art and should prevent a future patent), and then don't prosecute. The USPTO, as it is currently operated, does create an (implied) obligation to companies to file for patents, because prior art is so often ignored or misinterpreted.

            There are lots of reasons to hate Amazon, whether you're a (current, potential, or past) customer or an investor. I don't think them having patents is one of them. Prosecuting supposed infringement usually is. (Although, The System does have a general "prosecute-or-lose-it" policy in practice, which makes even this a bit iffy.)

            • jwz says:

              Yeah, "what if."

              I don't care what the reason is. It is wrong to apply for patents on the obvious. It is wrong to apply for patents on software. It is also wrong to grant patents on the obvious, and on software.

              "I want a weapon to fight back against against some hypothetical, potential future attacker, and I don't care whether that weapon is moral or not" is not an excuse that flys with me. It's still wrong. If you can't figure out how to do business without doing evil shit like this, then I'll do business with someone who can.

              But the point is moot, because Amazon filed that patent for "defensive" reasons, and filed their suit based on it for "defensive" reasons, just like the monkeys are flying out of my butt for "defensive" reasons.

              • midendian says:

                I actually wouldn't say that the Amazon patents were defensive, I was just defending some abuse of the system. I'm sure Amazon marketroids were just thinking one day, "what can we do to 'protect' our business model?", and patents are obvious.

                Because the System is in a state of disrepair (as you said, granting obvious patents is wrong), the mood is set to further abuse it: the legal system (that is, the courts enforcing USPTO-issued patents and the their laws) sits above market forces, but it doesn't know the market or the technology. Eventually, (wild hand-waving begins here) any company abusing the higher system will cause all companies to abuse it in defense, because they can't wait for the original offence to be cleaned up or for the laws to be changed. And then you have to ask, is it wrong for a company to do this if it is required for them to stay alive long enough to develop the technology into a product. [Perhaps the better question is whether commercial software development is actually viable in the long term.]

                I personally hate amazon because their business is fucked up (just what business /are/ they in these days?), and also because they screw up orders pretty consistently these days.

                • jwz says:

                  And then you have to ask, is it wrong for a company to do this if it is required for them to stay alive long enough to develop the technology into a product.

                  No, I don't have to ask that. There's no doubt in my mind that the answer is yes, it's wrong.

                  If the only way you can make money (uh, maybe you spell that "develop technology") is by doing Bad Things, then you won't be making money from me. Even if you promise that you feel bad about those Bad Things, and even if you promise you'll stop as soon as everyone else does.

                  <NWO> "What we are talking about is good and evil, right and wrong." </NWO>

                  • midendian says:

                    This is why it becomes a question of the basis of commercial software. In that world, you pay programmers and managers and marketing people to develop software that will turn into a product, that you then sell to people. All this takes time to do, after you've decided that the product has legitimate demand and that it can be developed and sold above cost, to create a sustainable business.

                    The idea behind patent law was to create a system where an "invention" (idea) is "protected" long enough so that it can be turned into a product. After the product enters the marketplace, the patent shouldn't be needed, as market forces will prevail and select the superior product for dominance (har har). (So obviously, Amazon filling their stupid patents long after their business was wildly successful was an abuse in itself.)

                    Without patents, trade secrets become the problem: everyone who knows the idea in that development period must regard the knowledge as a trade secret, bound by NDAs, often long after leaving a company.

                    What, in all of the above, is /not/ Wrong? Not much.

                    And /you/ know that, because you left this system, and I sort of envy that. (But if I want to get paid for what I enjoy doing, I have to support this system in some form (even if I work for a company doing Free software -- as if there are lots of those). The other option is to do something I don't enjoy, and that's not really right either. I usually throw away my social conscious when I think "It's okay, I'm not working on software that I would personally use, anyway. I'm doing it for someone else, who wouldn't use it at all if it were Free.".)

                    If nothing else, patent law helps avoid trade secrets (knowledge control is still undeniably evil, right? I haven't read slashdork recently!), and it puts ideas (often good ones) into public view. I would guess that most patents are not held by companies with the funds to litigate, so they are effectively public domain. So, in a way, I guess it can be a publishing outlet for niches outside the realm of trade journals.

                    Anyway, I only lept into this argument because I was bored and catching up on my friends page from a few days ago. No opinions will be changed here, I know.

  9. topher says:

    Check out: http://www.deepdiscountcd.com/

    They tend to be among the lower priced places I've found, and they don't charge for S&H. They also claim to price-match any online retailers that publish prices.

    • jwz says:

      Wow, so far none of the places people have suggested here have failed to suck!

      deepdiscountcd keeps redirecting to itself, over and over without ever displaying anything.

      I just want a place to buy brand new, non-niche-genre CDs and DVDs at traditionally extortionate prices, that isn't Amazon or B&N. And that is in the US, and that isn't an auction. Why is this hard?

      • topher says:

        Hrm. . . I just tried pulling it up, and it seems to be working for me. I've not had any trouble with them in the past.

        If you do manage to get it working for you, and you're looking for DVD's, they do have a sister site, http://www.deepdiscountdvd.com/, which also has pretty good prices and free S&H.

        • ntang says:

          Yeah, I've used deepdiscountdvd.com in the past and had pretty good luck with it. They had the lowest price on the dvds I was looking for, and didn't charge for shipping. Their sites work fine for me using linux/phoenix as the os/browser combo, so I can't imagine it wouldn't work with whatever you (you as in jwz) are using.

          Oh well.

      • How about buy.com? They have cds and dvds.

      • cryllius says:

        Have you managed to settle on anything decent?

  10. earle says:

    When I buy music online, I buy it from Forced Exposure. Unfortunately, it just makes me wish I had more money, because they have an incredible catalog.