So your local HMV store was selling them early? There are big fines for breaking the release date, although some big stores practice this so they can get the early advantage on sales - it's usually with big game releases though, as there's usually more than enough profit from these to get the advantage AND pay the fine, but not for CDs as it;s usually just a waste of time.
Release date was today, btw (don't know where you got the info about the18th from?)
Anyway, back on topic - I couldn't agree more about the packaging. I was expecting exactly the same (a similar idea to the NATO 30th anniversary CD), but it looks like presentation and content is an afterthought, yet again.
It ain't about how hard you can hit, it's about how hard you can get hit: how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!