Ban the Box Says: "Don't Be Ridiculous!"
By Robert Christgau
Published 1990 in The Village Voice
A friend of ours who'd bought some jazz CDs for his wife's blind parents recently found that his gift of music remained unheard--his in-laws had never managed to rip open the longboxes. Only in America. Nowhere else are CDs sold in an intractable, expensive, and utterly useless 6-by-12 piece of paperboard--throughout the civilized world, the plastic jewelbox they're stored in at home is also the retail standard. Eventually, though, a change is gonna come. By demanding that their next albums be released without disposable packaging, U2, Sting, and Joan Jett have followed the lead of kiddie bard Raffi, whose new MCA contract prohibits the longboxing of his music. And an impressive cross-section of artists--Ringo Starr and Phil Collins have joined a long list that includes the Ramones, REO Speedwagon, and Olivia Newton-John as well as Jackson Browne/10,000 Maniacs types--have lent their clout to a low-powered alliance of minor labels headed by Rob Simonds of CD pioneer Rykodisc. The Ban the Box Coalition, as it's called, wants to see the longbox gone by July 1, 1991.
Read the rest: http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/music/rbbox-90.php