Hey Record Boy,


I have a question for you. I hope you can help me.


Yesterday I was reminded why I go out and buy music so rarely -- just a little trip to pick up some old Steve Earle, along with some even older Arthur Rubenstein, plus some even older Mahler -- man I felt old.


The feeling old part wasn't the problem. It was when I got home and

tried to open the CDs.


Used to be you could just stick a fingernail or sharpened incisor into

the sleeve of a record jacket and, quick enough, you'd be spinning your

LP to happiness.


Now I'm breaking nails, getting sticky things all over, cursing my way

to opening that "jewel box."


What's the deal? What are they afraid of? Do these things spontaneously open in transit?


--Mystified in Milwaukee


Mark W.C. Stodder


Dear M.

The thing on top is called a spine sticker and it's purpose is three fold. One it prevents anyone in a record store from surreptitiously opening the jewel box in the bin and taking the disc out, thus defeating any anti theft devices at the entrance/exit. Two, it makes it easier for consumers to spot the disc in the bin since the sticker has the artist and title on it. Since you're looking down in the bin you don't have to look through each disc to see what's in there. Thirdly it makes it easier for stores to inventory since the barcode is also printed on the sticker and the clerks could just go through with a hand held bar code reader and not have to handle each disc.

All that being said, the top spine sticker sucks! Buy a CD opener (they're a variation on a letter opener). The blade splits the top spine sticker down the middle making it much easier to remove.