The new Cheap Trick album, "The Latest", is current available at Amazon.com through the company's on-demand CD manufacturing as a one-month exclusive from the release date, but on-demand CDs are both the new wave and a failed experiment.

On-demand CDs are both the new wave and a failed experiment. For years, companies have attempted to make the CD-burning kiosk a mainstay of brick-and-mortar retail. The virtual inventory of an Internet-connected kiosk is far greater and far more cost efficient than physical inventory. Many retailers have been hesitant of kiosks because of difficulty in making a return on investment. Consumers have never flocked to the kiosks in great numbers. Starbucks' kiosks failed to gain traction and f.y.e. continues to tinker with its music kiosks. Now online ordering has combined with on-demand manufacturing to create always-stocked CDs. But issues remain.

A company obviously faces problems when its product does not meet a consumer's expectations. This was seen earlier in the decade when some copy-protected CDs - such as the many that used SunnComm technology - would not play in computer drives or allow tracks to be ripped. Similar problems - but relating to physical packaging - are being experienced with on-demand CD-R discs. Even though the CDs comes with printed sleeves, tray cards, a printed CD and a jewel case, some consumers perceive an on-demand CD-R as being inferior to a normal CD. A CD that fails to play audio tracks is a more severe problem than poorly trimmed tray cards, but they are both issues in which consumers' expectations fall short of their experiences.

Once again, some expectations are not being met. Case in point: new Cheap Trick album. Three of the 24 ratings for "The Latest" at Amazon.com are low because it is a CD-R release. One reviewer did not realize before purchasing the album that it would be a CD-R and says the disc art is fine but the packaging is "super thin crappy paper that is printed and put together horribly." A two-star review encourages people to wait a month until the CD is sold by retailers. Nearly all reviews speak positively of the music while a few of those dismiss any issues of the CD-R's quality. One five-star review says the "quality is actually better than most CDs" he has purchased lately.

Consumers can hardly be blamed for not knowing the Cheap Trick album is a CD-R. The brief notice is given at the bottom of the editorial review: "This product is manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media. Amazon.com's standard return policy will apply."

Given the nature of the product, this information should be placed near the article/title, or in the product details section. Such important product information – and some consumers do consider it to be important – should be prominently displayed. Cheap Trick is selling the CD-R version of "The Latest" for $12.99 (it has a $15.00 list price). But since record stores do not buy used CD-Rs, these copies of "The Latest" have no resale value - and therefore have a higher effective price than a $12.99 regular CD.

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