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Friday, May 28, 2010

3D: the Future of Entertainment?

On June 11, Walt Disney is revolutionizing television entertainment with the latest rendition of its popular ESPN brand: ESPN 3D, a channel totally dedicated to broadcasting 3D programs. To kick off its launch, ESPN 3D will broadcast 25 games of the World Cup, the world’s most popular sporting event.¹ In addition to soccer, sports fans will also be able to marvel at screen-popping slam dunks or bat-crunching homeruns that appear to be taking place right in their living rooms.

Carried by DirecTV, ESPN 3D is one of the world’s first channels wholly dedicated to 3D programming and is a sure sign that 3D technology is here to stay. Once thought of as a fad, 3D entertainment has been evolving for nearly 200 years.²

It’s been around longer than you think
The original concept behind the creation of three-dimensional images, stereoscopy, was invented in 1838. The technique was sporadically implemented in low-budget films as cinemas gained popularity in the early 20th century. However, the 1950s ushered in the movie industry’s first 3D era, with House of Wax and It Came from Outer Space showing off stereoscopy’s groundbreaking potential. Even some popular films, including Hondo and Dial M for Murder, were released in the new, exciting format. However, 3D sales constantly lagged behind 2D and still left a lot to be desired in the eyes of studio execs.

It wasn’t until the late 1970s that the film industry got another healthy dose of 3D. Movies, mostly sequels such as Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th Part III, used state-of-the-art technology to make moviegoers feel as though the action was popping off the screen. The invention of IMAX increased the popularity of 3D movies, especially in the late 90s. However, shooting costs limited the number of 3D productions being released to normal cinemas, that is, until recently.  

The turn of the millennium gave way to a new golden age of 3D technology. Advancements in computer imaging slashed 3D production costs and allowed movie makers to create the most realistic 3D experience to date. In 2010, some movies that didn’t plan on having a 3D release, such as Clash of the Titans, were given “3D makeovers” in an attempt to catch onto the success of other recent 3D releases.³


Films such as Avatar and Alice in Wonderland have completely revolutionized the film industry. Avatar, which has grossed $2.7 billion as of May 2010, was the first feature film to be shot with a digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Written and directed by James Cameron, who also brought audiences Titanic, Avatar gave audiences a new-age epic filled with themes (imperialism, environmentalism, individualism) they could identify with. The movie’s success has sparked a new, overwhelming demand for 3D technology that has extended beyond the big screen.

Earlier this years, electronics giants Samsung and Mitsubishi released the first 3D-capable televisions to retailers. Ranging from $1800-3000, Samsung’s 3D LED HDTVs will leave the wallet feeling a little light. Is a $500 or so markup too much for the latest in entertainment technology? Perhaps, but the launch of ESPN 3D and the eventual release of 3D films on Blu-ray might just be too tempting for consumers.

Two things to consider, though, is the amount of 3D content currently available for consumers and possible health risks involved with 3D television.

As of now, ESPN 3D is only carried on DirecTV and is the only 3D-exclusive network in North America. If it does well and the demand for 3D entertainment continues to grow, then we will certainly see more carriers offering more channels and content.

Also, in the weeks following the release of its new TV line, Samsung issued health warnings on watching 3D televisions. Though Samsung doesn’t explicitly state why, it claims pregnant women and people under the influence of alcohol should avoid watching the television in 3D mode. The set’s 3D glasses are also not to be worn while performing any task other than watching the 3D television.⁴

Video Games
Although video game manufacturers have yet to fully embrace 3D, they are prepared to pounce on its popularity. NVIDIA has already developed 3D-ready graphics cards for PCs. Nearly 400 PC games contain 3D materials, though the majority of gamers do not yet have the hardware needed to view them. While many gamers are willing to drop $150-300 on a high-end video card, most will grimace at the price of a new 3D computer monitor, which will cost between $500-600.⁵

What do you think?
Is 3D the future of entertainment or will it die out in time? If it sticks around, is 3D media valuable to libraries? If so, how can libraries fulfill the need for 3D equipment, such as 3D glasses? Share your thoughts below.


Monday, May 24, 2010

SmartBrowse: A Closer Look

Recently, CVS Midwest Tape posted a blog about the basics of SmartBrowsing. Here, we present a more in-depth look at the advanced search engine, detailing a variety of ways to organize your results for a quick and efficient find.

First, entering fewer keywords will return more titles, so for optimal results enter as few keywords as possible. For example, try “Fresh Prince” instead of “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Once a user enters keywords, SmartBrowse categorizes the results in an expandable list that divides products by titles exactly matching or containing the search word, categories, series, collections, publisher names, people, and numbers. The list of expandable subcategories makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for and ignore what you’re not. Additionally, selecting the expand/collapse (+/–) box will expand or collapse your search results so that you see only  the results you want.

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Also, if there are more than 100 listings for a category you can opt to only view the top 100 bestselling titles or the 100 most recent titles. By doing this, you are able to quickly find the newest and most popular titles.

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After making your selection, you can arrange information alphabetically or numerically in ascending or descending order by clicking on the column names. For example, clicking on price will sort the titles by the least expensive to the most expensive. Clicking again will reorganize the information so that the most expensive products list first. Similarly, this action works for stock number, title media, misc, genre, release date, sales rank, and price.

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Another way to manage your SmartBrowse search is to further narrow your results. By clicking on the filter criteria box, you are able to restrict your findings by release date, format, and ratings.

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To continue perusing through the subcategories in the search summary list, simply select the Return to Original Search button. It is essential to select this button because clicking the browser’s back button will return you to the CVS Midwest Tape homepage, thus closing your current results.

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Want to learn more about SmartBrowsing? Watch our tutorial.
Have you used SmartBrowse? How has it aided your acquisitions experience?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

SmartBrowse: A Better Way to Search

Finding your favorite titles is easier at CVS Midwest Tape thanks to SmartBrowse, a combination of the search and browse functions. When looking for a title on the CVS Midwest Tape website, the browser searches not only the attributes of a product (i.e. titles, actors, artists, publishers), but also collection names, series, and categories. It’s even possible to find products by searching just partial title names and/or numbers of a stock number, OCLC, ISBN, or UPC.

To begin, just make sure the SmartBrowse option box is checked underneath the search bar in the upper right of the CVS Midwest Tape homepage and enter a keyword. As always, by searching keywords noted throughout the DVD, CD, and Audiobook monthly buyer’s guide, finding popular titles is effortless.

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Once the results are compiled, they are grouped accordingly in a Search Summary, an expandable list sorted by exact matches, titles that contain the search word, categories, series, collections, and people.

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However, if you don’t find what you are looking for, clicking the return to original search button will route you back to the Search Summary page, where you can continue to surf through results. Because titles with similar characteristics are grouped together, you are sure to come across what your library is looking for, if not more.

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Want to learn more about SmartBrowsing? Watch our webinar.

Have you used SmartBrowse? How has it affected your searching experience?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

IE Sliding, Chrome Picking up the Slack

For the first time since 1999, Internet Explorer's share dipped below 60% in the internet browser market. Although Internet Explorer (59.95%) still has a considerable market share advantage over Mozilla Firefox (24.59%) and Google Chrome (6.73%), recent trends indicate it will continue to lose market share. According to data published by Net Applications, users are dropping IE6 and IE7 for other brands, rather than upgrading to the current IE8. And although IE8 continues to grow at a steady rate, it is simply unable to keep up with its predecessors’ losses.¹
The New Face in Town
Perhaps the most surprising development in the browser market has been Google Chrome’s rapid growth. Chrome, which Google released back in September 2008, gained .60 points in April and was the month’s biggest winner in the market share battle.² However, it remains to be seen if Chrome can unseat Firefox as the industry’s runner-up.

The Comeback Kid
With its current crop of browsers sliding, Microsoft is focusing on Internet Explorer 9 and its reputed performance improvements.³ Although IE9 is still several months away from public release, beta testers and curious parties can install its preview model here; (requires Windows Vista or later).

Will Internet Explorer make a comeback with IE9? Will you even use it? Have you ever tried Chrome?
Leave some comments below.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Welcome to CVS News & Views

At CVS Midwest Tape, customer service is our utmost priority. Therefore, in order to increase communication, we’ve launched CVS News & Views, a blog dedicated to presenting you with newsworthy information and commentary quickly and efficiently.

Because your feedback drives our progress as librarians’ premier media source, we’ve enabled you to comment on our posts.  You can also use the bookmarking icons below each post to share entries on your social networking and bookmarking sites.

You can access our blog through our link on the CVS Midwest Tape homepage, by subscribing to us via RSS or email, or by accessing the blog's URL directly ( 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Audiobooks on CD Represent Majority of the Market, MP3 Audiobooks’ Share Miniscule

In a 2009 sales survey, Audio Publishers Association (APA) measured the growth and divisions of the one billion dollar audiobook industry. (Check out the survey results here.)

APA found that audiobooks on CD account for 72% of the audio market. And while the market share for downloadable content has increased at a noteworthy rate, audiobooks on MP3 discs have maintained a steady market share over the past few years at an unimpressive 1%.¹

On his blog, RickLibrarian cites an online AudioFile survey that found that the largest percent of audiobook listeners prefer audiobooks on CD.² And in a 2008 article entitled “A Rapidly Growing Electronic Publishing Trend,” Jan. J. Engelen cites the “the universal usability” of CDs as one of the major reasons audiobooks on CDs remain the popular choice for audiences. Additionally, Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues have made audiences, especially libraries, weary of the MP3 format: “In practice, however, DRM lead to quite a lot of customer frustration as it hindered copying in general or made it sometimes impossible to play the legally acquired files on a whole series of devices.”³

Because of its lack of market share and universal usability, CVS Midwest Tape doesn’t currently carry audiobooks on MP3. The demand does not yet exist, and with its sluggish growth, we’re not sure when it will. We’re always keeping our eye on the industry, though.

What’s your take on the MP3-disc format? What patron feedback have you received on the many audiobook formats?