On An Overgrown Path now achieves an impressive Google PageRank of 6/10, and this means every day a lot of visitors land here as a result of searching for a wide range of music-related topics on Google. A surprisingly large number of these searches are for Caiman USA or Brilliant Classics. The Florida based Caiman is one of thousands of Amazon Marketplace suppliers offering heavy discounts when you follow the Used & New link on Amazon. They have some very low prices on classical CDs, and customers are using Google to check them out before buying. Brilliant Classics is an innovative super-budget classical CD label from Holland who have a poor presence in high street shops, but can be found with big discounts online.
Regular readers will know I buy a lot of CDs. I have used Caiman and other Amazon Marketplace suppliers in the past to buy Brilliant Classics and other labels, and have written about them favourably here. As a lot of people are interested in this information I thought it would be useful to post an update of my experiences.
My report is unfortunately not good. The Amazon Marketplace scheme is attracting many suppliers who are falling below the minimum aceptable standard. To a certain extent this should be self-regulating via the feedback reports, but my recent experiences have shown that this doesn't always work. There is a particular problem with availability. There is no real time link between the Amazon site and the Marketplace suppliers. This means if a CD is shown as in stock by a Marketplace reseller this is no guarantee that they actually have it. Several times recently it has been clear that a supplier is sourcing the title from a wholesaler once they have my order, and my money. And once you've ordered from Amazon Marketplace you can't cancel.
Although Caiman USA remains one of the better suppliers I have recently suffered some long delays in despatching, and several orders disappeared into 'black holes' from which they miraculously emerged when a chasing email was sent. But these experiences are nothing like as bad as Entertainment UK. They are a very large company and music wholesaler who should know better. They recently sent me a 9 CD boxed set (the Hanssler - part of Brilliant Classics - complete Bach Chorale settings) sold as 'new'. In place of the booklet was a page downloaded from the internet annotated with handwriting and a Post-it® note. Other smaller suppliers have failed to deliver, or have missed promised delivery dates by a mile. These problems are not confined to Amazon Marketplace. I have used Play.com extensively, but recently they failed to credit a return until chased by phone.
I have now moved most of my music buying back to 'brick and mortar' stores, led by the excellent independent Prelude Records in Norwich. But unfortunately there are labels such as Brilliant Classics which remain far cheaper, and easier to find, online. I use only the larger Amazon Marketplace suppliers when I have to, and then view each order as a gamble rather than a certainty. I avoid virtually all the small resellers, even when they have high feedback ratings - I have simply had too many problems. Amazon Marketplace now seems to be a victim of its own success. As with any retail transaction it is caveat emptor, and there are still some great deals and service. But sadly the aggravation is starting to outweigh the benefits. And before anyone asks why not buy the recordings as downloads? I would explain that I don't fancy printing out the wonderful 254 page booklet that comes with Scott Ross' complete Scarlatti Sonata set on a PC printer.
How do you buy your CDs and books? Any recommendations for dependable online stores for music and books? Or is everyone other than me downloading their music? And if so how did you get your Scarlatti Sonata booklet? Any nominations for exceptional 'bricks and mortar' stores - either UK or US? Any reader's experiences or comments very welcome via the Comments feature below - good as well as bad please.
Some small print on PageRank and related topics. The leading blog tracking service Technorati now audits 23.4 million blogs and ranks them by importance measured by links. On An Overgrown Path ranks today at 14,421 out of 23.4 million, with 944 links from 104 sites - quite pleasing for a 'serious' arts and music site. Thanks for linking, and virtual champagne all round if we reach 1000 links!
Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
Image credit - Basetech.jp
Image owners - if you do not want your picture used in this article please contact me and it will be removed. If bandwidth is a problem with your permission I will host your image.
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Burning the bookshops