Buying a CD vs. Buying a Download

2 years ago when I bought an iRiver Clix 2 mp3 player, I ripped all of my CDs to mp3 files. Since then I've rarely listened to a CD. I listen to the files directly from my computer when I'm online. When I'm driving, I use an FM transmitter to play my mp3 player in the car. At other times, I listen to them via headphones. I can also plug it into the audio receiver in my living room and listen to the music through our speakers. My husband and I recently got rid of the CD player in our living room for that reason, and because we could use that space for other things.

And yet, I'm still buying CDs. For individual tracks where I don't want the whole album I'll download them from Amazon's mp3 store. Otherwise I buy the CD, and then rip it to mp3. In the few cases where the album I wanted was available *only* as a download then I had to buy it that way. But I wasn't happy.

Why is this? Once I buy a CD and rip the tracks, in many cases I never touch the jewel box again. But I guess I like having something to "collect" - a tangible symbol of an artist or genre I'm interested in. I also like having a backup. On the other hand, my digital music is stored in multiple copies on my 3 computers (work/home/laptop) and the home desktop is regularly backed up to an external hard drive. Maybe I don't need a CD as a backup. I guess that I've become an old geezer at age 31 and I like the idea of a physical copy of something. There's also a part of me that worries that at some point mp3 will be replaced by something else, but if I have the original CDs then I can always rip them to whatever the new format is.

What made me think about all this was some CDs I was considering buying by an artist I'm a fan of. I've mostly had just his greatest hits, but decided to start buying the individual albums. And the digital download versions on Amazon are each $3-4 cheaper than the CD version. I started wondering if I'm being stupid about having to have everything on CD, and that I could save money and space by buying the downloads. If I were a teenager and wasn't so accustomed to having CDs maybe this wouldn't be an issue, but I appear to have become set in my ways.

Thoughts? Should I join the modern age, ditch the CDs and just have digital versions of everything?

(I purposely did not mention Bittorrent and the like because at least for purposes of this blog post, I'd like to focus on purchased music.)

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I can't but think there's quite a few people that will have this discussion about books in the future!

My iPod was stolen recently and BOY do I regret not having backups for a lot of the obscure stuff I'd downloaded onto it.

But I'm into preservation like that. I've strong attachments to my music so I feel a need to archive it.

I enjoyed your comments but I must say that I too enjoy listening to books on my mp3 player but I get them from my public library for FREE! My wonderful public library offers audio downloads of thousands of books and best sellers for free with my public library card!
Perhaps you can check out the options at your public library and you'll never need to worry about this again.

Unless you are ripping the CDs as WAV or FLAC files, you may be losing some audio information due to compression. I assume you've already experimented and found something that sounds as good to you as the original CD--or good enough.