Finally! Digital Booklets with iTunes Music Downloads

Apple today began offering U2’s latest album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, for sale on the iTunes Music Store, together with the 446-track Complete U2. This latter “digital box set” is the first of its kind (well, not really; iTunes sells many other box sets that are available on CD), but Apple today introduced another innovation: downloadable digital liner notes.Music fans have gotten used to buying music on-line, and the inclusion of album art is one way of making downloadable music seem more like the “real thing”. But one thing has long been missing: liner notes. The booklets included with CDs give interesting information about the music and musicians, and often contain lyrics.

Today, with the release of the new U2 album and the Complete U2, Apple is offering digital booklets that download into iTunes when you purchase the music. These booklets are PDF files that you can open directly from iTunes by double-clicking. If you have a Mac, this opens either Preview or Acrobat Reader, depending on which of these programs you use to view PDFs. If you run Windows, double-clicking the booklet opens Acrobat Reader.

This is a big step in on-line music sales, one that is much larger than it may seem at first. While before you got the music and nothing but the music, now you get the info as well. The lack of such information has prevented many music fans from downloading jazz and classical music, and others have been disappointed to not be able to find the lyrics for the music they’ve purchased.

Instead of searching web sites to find lyrics or information about your music, you’ll now be able to read them directly from your computer. Sure, you can’t do it on your iPod yet, but that’ll come one day.

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