Rob Brunner
March 09, 2009 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Apparently, yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the first-ever demonstration of the original CD prototype. Okay, so this is a pretty silly milestone, since nobody much cares about some long-ago technology demo (won’t the 2012 anniversary of the first commercially released CD, Billy Joel’s 52nd Street, be more notable?). Also, nobody cares about CDs.

But we thought this was a good excuse to tip you off to a smart book that offers a fascinating peek into the birth (and death) of the CD, the rise of digital music, and all the ways the music industry has screwed up over the past 30 years. Steve Knopper’s Appetitite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age is way more interesting than it sounds, and as fun to read as it is informative. Knopper tells his story through charismatic characters and fun anecdotes, which will keep you awake and more entertained than you might think possible when reading a book peppered with terms like “ISO-MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3” (that’s “MP3” to the rest of us). As you’re downloading the new U2 album for $3.99 on Amazon, pick this up too and find out how things got to the point where the biggest band in the world is practically giving away their new album.

So how do you feel about the death of the CD at the ripe old age of 30? Is it a sad, early demise, or good riddance to a tired technology?    

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