01 Radiohead, In Rainbows (box-set), 2007
The In Rainbows box-set is, to me, genre-defining. That is a bold statement from someone who is not a big Radiohead fan. Created by Stanley Donwood and produced by Clear, Sound and Vision, it's a pivotal moment in the evolution of new wave collector's edition releases. It also forms the starting point for Collector's Edition, as all examples featured in the book were created around or after this release.
The innovative 'pay what you want' model for the album took the headlines, but the success of this box-set has opened publishers’ and artists’ eyes to the new potential of innovative, tangible, special edition packaging and design.
Donwood’s comment when we met him in his studio, underlines how far the genre has evolved. "I was speechless when Thom told me I had to make something worth £40". By today’s standards this price tag is very reasonable, but it is important to remember this was an era dominated by cheap dual case CD packaging and was just before the recent commercial renaissance of vinyl.
The success of this box-set release is down to Stanley's beautiful, abstract and colourful wax textured artwork, realised in a traditional large format package. People bought this release for its beautiful design and not just the music, which, in this case, could be download for as little as £1.