957 Pages in 24 Hours?

My Life by Bill ClintonSlate questions the value and plausability of reviewing a mammoth book like Bill Clinton’s 957-page My Life in time for the 24-hour news cycle. Publisher Alfred A. Knopf denied reporters a copy of the book before its official release on June 22. Several papers ran reviews in the next 24-48 hours, though not every reviewer actually read the book. Seems more akin to elementary school book reports than professional book reviews.

No Purchase Necessary

So Apple’s doing a big contest to celebrate 100 million songs downloaded on iTunes. They’re giving away 49 20 GB iPods and a grand prize of a 40 GB iPod, 17 inch Powerbook and 10,000 free songs. Not too shabby.

The prizes go to whoever purchases a 100,000th song between 95 and 100 million. So you download song number 95,100,000 and you win an iPod. Not too shabby.

Yet the official rules clearly state “no purchase necessary.” Apparently you can also be entered by using the “Tell a Friend” feature to e-mail a track suggestion to a friend. Yet Apple fails to explain how you can win with this method considering winning involves being the purchaser of a 100,000th song. So either you simply can’t win with the free option (but you can enter!), or Apple’s going to inflate their download count with free entries.

Confused? Me too.

CD Prices Falling?

Don’t tell anyone, but CD prices are starting to fall — in some cases dramatically. Best Buy is selling the new Spider-Man 2 soundtrack for $8.99 this week. They have Breaking Benjamin for $6.99. Target does too, as well as The Killers for $6.99, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for $6.98 and Ozmatli for $5.98. Franz Ferdinand and Modest Mouse have both seen their latest releases in the $8.99-$9.99 range.

The drastically reduced prices seem to be short-term sales, most likely instigated by record companies, designed to boost sales and exposure. Though good luck finding anyone talking about it. There’s plenty of news about Universal’s 5 percent price drop (though apparently some retailers are keeping prices high and pocketing the difference), as well as the recent price fixing lawsuit accounting for a minor price rollback. But most of those stories have to do with regular CD prices, lowering stickers from $15.99 to $13.99. Nobody’s talking about these 44 percent price dives.

And maybe they should. CD sales in the first half of 2004 were up 7 percent over 2003. Prices under $10 prompt impulse buys. It worked for me: I bought the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack solely on the merits of Dashboard Confessional’s “Vindicated.”

So You Wanna Be a Rock Star?

So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star by Jacob Slichter of SemisonicSemisonic’s Jacob Slichter released a memoir earlier this week about the real life of a rock star, So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star?: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other Tales from a Drummer’s Life.

The 65 pages I read while enjoying the air conditioning of Barnes & Noble were witty and self-effacing, showing a guy who liked the dream of being a rock star more than actually being one. The overly self-conscious description of the band’s first photo shoot was hilarious. If it wasn’t a brutal $21.95 I would have bought it on the spot.