Anatomy of a Jewelcase

Jewelcase / Jewelbox – The industry standard plastic CD case. Recommended for retail projects. Also called a Jewelbox.

Tray – the plastic part of the jewelcase that the disc snaps onto. Usually black, white or clear. The left side of the tray shows through when the case is closed. Clear trays allow printing on the inside of the traycard to show through (see below). Custom colors can be requested.

The pieces that go into it:

Insert / Booklet / Folder – The front paper part that has the cover. The “back cover” is what you see on the left when you first open the jewelcase but don’t take out the paper. It slips in the front of the jewelcase to show through.

  • 2-panel – a single sheet of paper with no folds – panels include the front cover and the back of the cover where you can put credits or other info.
  • 4-panel – a single sheet folded in half like a greeting card.
  • 6-panel – a single sheet folded twice like a letter.
  • Booklet – A folded set of 4 panel inserts stapled together. Always increases in fours (8 pages, 12 pages, etc.)
  • Folder – An insert without staples – usually folds in on itself, although there are other ways (gatefold, poster fold). Always increases in twos (4 panels, 6 panels, etc.)

Traycard / Inlay Card – This is the paper part that is embedded in the back of the case under the disc that is not removable. It usually has the barcode and track listing on it, and also has the side spine text (artist name) that you see when cases are stacked. It is perforated left and right. If it is printed only on one side, the plastic tray is usually black or white. If the traycard is printed on the inside, the plastic tray would be clear to be able to see the printing through it, including the left edge when the case is closed. Also called an Inlay card.

Jewelcases vs. Digipaks

Digipaks

Digipaks are definitely becoming more popular. Before you spend the extra money for the “look” consider this:

Pros: As a designer, I love to design digipaks. Many people love how they look and feel. They are perceived as being more “eco-friendly” (which isn’t exactly true, however). They automatically include full color inside because the printing is all on one side and folded over.

Cons: As a consumer I don’t like them. They take up more room in my CD collection (I MP3 all my CDs, take the inserts out of the jewelcase and file them in a vinyl sleeve).

They get dinged easier and can’t be repaired. If the plastic hub breaks there is no way to replace it (jewelcases are interchangeable). Yes, jewelcases do crack, but you can replace every part of them by cannibalizing another case.

Jewelcases

Jewelcases are more water resistant. You can set one on a wet table and it will still protect the insert. Try doing that with a digipak. You can even set a cold sweating drink on a jewelcase with no damage.

If the CD comes off the hub, the disc can slide out and become damaged easily. The jewelcase snaps shut, so even if the disc pops off the hub, it isn’t going anywhere.

People think digipaks are lighter and thinner, but they’re not really. (Wallets are, but they don’t have the tray.)

You get less and pay more: They have less room for information. A 4-panel insert in a jewelcase has 3 full panels for information, plus the cover and traycard. A 4-panel digi only has 1. You’d have to do a 6-panel digi to have more panels for text, and that would cost about twice as much as the jewelcase with a 4-panel insert.