For the edification of the pedantic, here are my views on the major CD packaging designs. Note that originally, CD's were going to be sold in packaging that was just scaled-down vinyl album sleeves, but someone at Sony or Philips thought that this wasn't "classy" enough. Damn them.

Traditional jewelcase : The front is easy to crack, and the hinges just don't make any sense at all. The actual spindle thing is usually OK though. The booklet holder tabs are seemingly not standardised. Sometimes they mash up the thinnest of pamphlets while on others the gap is wide enough and the plastic pliable enough to allow the insert to slip in and out without problems. Much worse than this were the teeth used to hold the manuals in EA Megadrive game boxes.

CD Single jewelcase : now this is rather more like it. Sturdier and more compact, but generally at the expense of a crapper spindle thingy. And no room for large amounts of paper of course.

'S'-shape 2-in-1 double CD : These are remarkably stupid. Although they save space, the spindle grips are always ultra stiff and require the CD to be flexed alarmingly for it to budge.

2-to-4 CD Double Case : My personal favourite of the plastic cases, these behemoths are riddled with a completely different set of flaws. The spindle grips are too loose, resulting in a lapful of CDs when either compartment is opened. Also, if any form of booklet is inside, it will be held in by willpower rather than any form of tabs. You can get huge (100+ page) booklets in though.

DIGILOK housing : Now, I know that WyldWynd hates these, but I think they are damn nifty. The clever thing is, that the backplate that holds the CD is one chunk of thin plastic, and that can be glued onto any suitably flat construct you want. For reasons of weight this usually means a cardboard or waxed paper gatefold, leading to scuffing and coffee rings. They also look a bit floppy on a rack next to banks of jewelcases. The one that the original Quake came in was just about OK. I think a slightly thicker outside box like a blank VHS case would do the trick. The coolest thing about these cases (my favourite kind of CD case, you may have gathered) is that 1. The "teeth snapping off / spindle too tight / too loose" problem is eradicated by a popamatic triangular button, 2. The "mashed-up booklet" scenario is eradicated - you can either print all the stuff on the foldy thing or have a pocket for a booklet, and best of all 3. The waxed card ones smell really, really cool. I sniff CD cases. I admit it.

Square paper envelope with a window : as seen on driver CD's. Somewhat useless. Generally come with some virulent glue to stick them down to your desk.

CD-dom : A thin, D-shaped plastic envelope. Used for recent Logitech CDs. Totally impractical but they look kinda cool.

My own design : I designed a CD envelope that doesn't require any glue. It can also be constructed from an A4 sized sheet of paper or card. making it easy to print on. Kind of like simplistic origami, but with the problem that a dedicated fiddler could pull it apart quite easily.

A final point. Why do computer mags insist on sellotaping a jewelcase to the front cover ? It's such a pain fighting a load of stringy tape and a broken box just to get at some demos.

August 2002 Updates.

The most common style of DVD packaging incorporates the locking mechanism of the DIGILOK housing mentioned above. Also, a new type of jewelcase has been spotted, the ultra-slimline CD single case. (These are used for PC Format's cover disks.) This is easily the coolest of the plastic jewelcase-form cases. The back piece is made of nicely textured black plastic, the front is clear plastic, and the whole thing is about 3mm wide. You could easily fit two inside a box narrower than a DVD case and still fit a booklet in there too.

Due to exceptional demand, I will shortly update this writeup with instructions to make my paper CD case, but warn you in advance that you will be disappointed. The slimline CD-single case is the best.