iTunes 9 Focus: iTunes LP

For me, the most exciting feature of iTunes 9 is iTunes LP. As a kid, I read CD booklets cover to cover, looked at every photo, saw who played what instrument on what track and who wrote the songs. That's an experience I've missed since distribution went digital, but I've accepted it.

A couple of years ago, Apple added digital booklets to to the iTunes Store, and some of them were quite nice. But even the best don't compare to iTunes LP. Today I purchased the deluxe version of "Come Away With Me" by Norah Jones [iTunes link] and spent nearly 20 minutes exploring it, just like the old days.

The album contains a bonus track ("Peace"), but the real fun begins when you double-click the "Deluxe Version" file and you're presented with something that resembles a DVD menu. A simple animation draws Norah's name while the first few measures of "Come Away With Me" are heard. From there, you're set to explore.

This album has seven options: Play album, songs, memorabilia, photos, videos, liner notes and credits. The first two do what you'd expect, accompanied by photos and lyrics. The memorabilia feature surprised me with pictures of backstage passes, the tour calendar and a "quickie rundown" of events from the 45th Grammy Awards (Norah's appearances highlighted).

There are sixteen photos and four videos including -- surprise! -- Norah's appearance on Sesame Street (much to my 4-year-old's delight). Finally, the full liner notes, biography and album credits are included, each with beautiful photos.

Music fans will love this feature, as will fans of participating artists. It's not like holding a record jacket or CD booklet in your hand, but that's an unfair comparison anyway. Paper liner notes don't contain videos, photos of this size or some of the other goodies. iTunes LP is a very welcome treat.

Check out the gallery below for screenshots.