I ordered my Skyrim soundtrack back on Nov. 9th, and checking my email this morning after work I learn that it started shipping to me on Dec. 13th. So that's cool, I'm not even upset about the month-plus delay. I take it as normal that, as a Canadian, anything I order from the US will take an unreasonably long time to arrive, and I'm sure producing the discs and packaging, and signing them also contributes to the slow turnaround.
In case you didn't know, the soundtrack is a 4-disc collection presented in a nice box (not just a multi-disc jewel case), and early orders will be signed by the composer, Jeremy Soule. You can scope it out at DirectSong, which is a storefront operated by the Soule brothers themselves. I think it is pretty awesome that they sell their own soundtrack discs directly, being a niche interest and all, and I'm sure they get better returns this way than they would with a proper label and traditional distributor.
But why would I buy the soundtrack when I already almost never use my CD player, and could probably also just unpack the .BSA archives and pull the music out of the game directly? Good question. One answer is I was a little bit tipsy when I ordered it - and while this is true, I'm mostly joking because I thought about whether I should buy the thing on and off for a week or so.
Really, I have the PC version of the game from Steam – and I bought it back when it was initially offered so that I could get the sweet TF2 loot (my heavy looks dope in the helmet), but also because as a mega-fan of Oblivion, I had been reading the infamous "TES5 Speculation" thread on the official forums for nearly a year before the 2010 VGA announcement of Skyrim's existence so I was eager to make it a reality and pre-purchasing was part of that. One side-effect of this was that in November, waiting for the game to release, I had already paid for it months earlier, and had disposable income at hand, so I was anticipating the game, but I didn't have to spend $60 that week to get it (the two ideas otherwise going hand-in-hand). Ordering the soundtrack, in a way, was spending the money I felt like I would have spent on the game, although that is crazy to articulate ...and obviously stupid, there it is.
Of course having pre-purchased the game through Steam, on November 11th, the game files would unlock and decrypt and I would be off to the races in Skyrim - but with no physical box to put on my shelf. Now I'm all for digital-only, no clutter media consumption in 99% of cases, but I've always kinda liked having my Oblivion case on my bookshelf - I spent so much time with the game, I might as well have a physical token of that experience in my personal space. I was not interested in a huge plastic dragon because that just isn't how I roll, so although I wanted the art book, there was no reason to get the CE - and if I wasn't going to get the CE, there was no reason to buy a boxed PC game. Getting the nicely packaged OST will give me something to put on my shelf, even if I'm going to rip the CDs as soon as I get them and might never actually play them in a conventional CD player (I still have one, I even dust it once in a while).
But the primary reason I bought a $40 soundtrack printed to a physical medium I have no use for, and shipped agonizingly slowly across the border, is because I fucking love Jeremy Soule. The music he wrote for Oblivion and Morrowind accompanied hundreds of hours of some of my favourite gaming experiences. I put the Morrowind soundtrack into Oblivion to fatten the experience (yo dawg, I heard you liked Jeremy Soule in your TES games so...). Just a few bars of "Sunrise of Flutes" or "Wings of Kynareth" and I'm back in the Jerall Mountains.
I have had the Morrowind and Oblivion soundtracks for about five years - and I've kept them in heavy rotation on a regular basis - and to be blunt, I stole them off the internet. I could justify my piracy, if I cared; back then I was a cash-starved student, and I could have as easily pulled those songs from the game files, which I legitimately owned, torrenting the albums just ensured good bitrates and pre-filled ID3 tags - it may not have been on the up and up, but I always felt it was a lighter shade of grey, as far as these things go. I've made playlists over the years of the softer music from TES3 and TES4, and played them though headphones or from my PC as I go to sleep (being a difficult sleeper music helps shut up my brain so I can sleep). When I started using iTunes to manage my music I found I had to reset the play counter on these files occasionally because they threw my '25 most listened' all out of sorts otherwise (maybe I'm a little anal).
Buying the soundtrack, straight from Jeremy Soule's own store, allows me to level my karma- after enjoying his work in-game for years, and having had the aide of his music in getting countless good nights' sleep with copies of the soundtrack that I did not directly pay for, throwing the dude a few bones directly seems like the proper thing to do. For all the satisfaction his compositions have brought me over the years, I feel like $40 and waiting patiently for more than a month is the least I could do.
TLDR: I bought CDs I'll never play for symbolic value, having enjoyed Soule's body of work for so long that I felt that I owed him a direct gesture of gratitude. Also I wanted a physical totem to Skyrim because I bought it on Steam.