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Good things that come in boxes (boxed sets, that is)

By Todd Leopold, CNN
November 23, 2012 -- Updated 1537 GMT (2337 HKT)
If you're a Beatles completist who didn't receive the Fab Four's albums from a relative -- say one who saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1966 (thanks, Aunt Cheri!) -- or pick them up in a used-record store, you can get them all in one fell swoop. These are based on the remastered 2009 versions, though tweaked for vinyl. (Capitol/EMI, 16 LPs including two double albums) If you're a Beatles completist who didn't receive the Fab Four's albums from a relative -- say one who saw the Beatles at Shea Stadium in 1966 (thanks, Aunt Cheri!) -- or pick them up in a used-record store, you can get them all in one fell swoop. These are based on the remastered 2009 versions, though tweaked for vinyl. (Capitol/EMI, 16 LPs including two double albums)
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The Beatles Stereo Vinyl Box Set
'My Life in Music,' Lalo Schifrin
'The Casablanca Singles,' Kiss
Bill Withers boxed set
'Nuggets,' various artists
'When I See the Sun,' Codeine
'The Complete Studio Recordings,' Roxy Music
'Drop on Down in Florida,' various artists
Preservation Hall Jazz Band collection
'Celebration Day,' Led Zeppelin
'The Incredible Mel Brooks,' Mel Brooks
'Lawrence of Arabia' 50th anniversary edition
'Columbo: The Complete Series'
'Homeland: The Complete First Season'
'Elvis: Prince From Another Planet'
'Universal 100th Anniversary Collection'
'Steve Martin: The Television Stuff'
'Doctor Who Limited Edition Gift Set'
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Holiday season proves CDs, DVDs, even vinyl records aren't dead yet
  • Part of the desire for physical product is fidelity, music exec says
  • "It's almost like a piece of art," he says of a phonograph record
  • Detailed liner notes, intriguing outtakes part of the packaging of many boxed sets

(CNN) -- Last year, the Beatles' "Abbey Road" sold 41,000 copies.

On vinyl.

Yes, in 2011 more than 40,000 people bought a new copy of an album originally released 43 years ago in an almost-extinct format that requires technology most people don't own. And they weren't outliers: "Abbey Road" has sold more than 100,000 copies on vinyl since the Beatles' catalog was remastered and rereleased in 2009.

Vinyl is only part of the story; people still buy CDs and DVDs, too, even though songs, TV shows and movies are available online at the click of a button.

Which brings up the question: Why, in our Wi-Fi'ed, flash-drived, direct-to-digital age, does anyone buy a physical product of a recording anymore?

Part of it's the fidelity, points out Tom Cording, vice president of media relations for Sony/Legacy: With audio in particular, some want state-of-the-art sound. Part of it's the security of owning an object: Whether it's on vinyl, CD or DVD, it's there as a backup if your hard drive crashes.

And part of it's simple human fascination.

Look at a phonograph record, Cording says: "It's almost like a piece of art. You want to take it and look at it and pass it around the room," he says. Nowadays, music has become something people put on for background noise while they do eight other things, he adds; an old LP, with Side 1 and Side 2, practically demanded attention.

The same is true for many boxed sets, whether on CD or DVD. At their best, the packaging is careful and often brilliant, complete with detailed liner notes, intriguing outtakes and state-of-the-art technical specs. Even when the product is more basic, such as a few seasons of a TV show, the material is all at your fingertips, ready for a marathon viewing.

The holidays are, of course, high season for such releases. Here's a sampling of what's available.

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