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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Audie Award Winners Announced

On May 24th at The TimesCenter in New York, the Audio Publisher Association hosted the 2011 Audie Awards, the only awards program in the U.S. devoted exclusively to spoken word entertainment. From the best in specific genres to the prestigious Best Audio Book of the Year, the awards honour a wide array of audiobooks, publishers, and talented narrators.

This year Keith Richard’s Life took the highest honour of the night, and narrator Joe Hurley, a New York based pop singer and songwriter, graciously accepted the award:

"‘When I heard they needed me on this project, there were no questions asked,’ said Hurley. ‘I was sound checking Singing Back Home in Paris when I got the call. I went straight to the airport, flew for hours, lost my luggage, and had no sleep, but we recorded it on time and the result is this amazing memoir to music icon, Keith Richards, who I have the privilege of calling a personal friend.’"¹

In addition to Best Audio Book of the Year, Life also won Biography Book of the Year, which Hurley accepted, too. But who else went home with top honours? Here’s the full list of finalists and winners and our collection of winners is now up at

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The State of CDs: Some Gloom, But Definitely No Doom

In early 2010, CVS Midwest Tape News & Views reported that according to Nielsen SoundScan in 2009 CDs accounted for 78.9% of all albums sold, while digital albums only made up 20.4% of sales.¹ We cited several reasons why consumers—and therefore library patrons—still prefer physical albums over digital, including lyric booklets, significantly higher quality audio, and ability to play in standard car stereos.

During the summer of 2010, we reported on Freegal, discussing its many drawbacks and why it isn’t the right digital music solution for libraries.² Later that summer, we highlighted several musicians not yet available on iTunes and their reason for resisting the digital market.³

All of these articles highlighted the staying power of the physical disc. Now, on the heels of two studies that report DVDs’ continued market dominance, USA Today reports that CDs are here to stay according to Nielsen SoundScan. While the study does show that CDs were down in 2010 and downloads were up, “consumers still spend more on CDs than downloads, and overall music sales are up 1.6% this year” thus far.⁴

More importantly, the study reports that while music fans may download singles, they still purchase physical CDs: "They want the whole package, "says Russ Crupnick, president of research at NPD Entertainment.⁴
Additionally, analysts say that while CD sales aren’t what they once were, the compact disc isn’t going anywhere: "‘CDs are going to be around for a long time,’ says Dave Bakula, a senior vice president of Nielsen… ‘It's the last physical music format, and there's unlikely to be a replacement. For people who want to own the physical version, the CD is it.’" ⁴

Even though consumers are still purchasing physical discs, there are significantly fewer music stores, and big box stores are now carrying mostly top 20 hits rather than classic, indie, or niche titles. That’s where libraries come in. Just as more and more people are turning to libraries for DVDs in the wake of rental store closures, consumers are also turning to libraries for their music needs.

As reported in a recent article about Wicomico Public Library, they’ve “filled a void left by the closure of thousands of independent and chain music stores during the past decade.” Additionally, they’ve found that patrons love being able to experience new music and listen to entire albums they may have never discovered if they hadn’t visited the library. The success of Wicomico’s music collection shows in their circulation stats: “CDs were checked out nearly 23,000 times last year,” according to the article.

What do you think of the recent USA Today article? Is your library sharing experiences similar to that of Wicomico? Do you find more patrons turning to your music collection in the wake of retail closures?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This year, the Library Association of Alberta took Jasper by storm for the 2011 Alberta Library Conference.

Before the show, we sent out an email survey to a targeted group of CVS Midwest Tape customers registered to attend the show. The survey helped us to understand and serve our Alberta libraries better and contributed to dialog at the show.

During the show, we handed out gift cards to Evil Dave’s Grill, a locally owned restaurant in Jasper—where the food and service was exceptional! Additionally, everyone who completed the email survey was entered to win our grand prize—a $500 CVS Midwest Tape gift card!

So everyone that visited the CVS Midwest booth was a winner, but who was our big grand prize winner?
Jill Griffith of Red Deer Public Library! Congrats Jill!

Throughout the trade show, our Dave Narciso was there, interacting with hundreds of attendees. The conference was abuzz with interest in digital formats, like e-books, as well as curiosities over what format currently drives circulations at libraries. While Dave was mingling and admiring the sights of Jasper, he snapped some shots of the show:

CVS Midwest Tape sponsored a coffee break station.

Dave working the CVS Midwest Tape booth.

Did you attend the ALC? What did you think of the trade show? What was your favorite event or moment? Got any photos to share? Send them to, and we’ll post them to our blog!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Lady Gaga Craze

Lady Gaga has been teasing fans with details of her new album Born This Way (BTW) since last year. And last week, she gave her fans even more to salivate over by releasing the full track list for the deluxe edition of BTW. Of course, it isn’t just her “Little Monsters” that are crazy for the half-motorcycle and half-woman; librarians are gaga for Lady Gaga as well. Just take this music video from University of Washington's Information School students and faculty for example:

While it may have been “Poker Face” that inspired the video above, it was Gaga’s title track “Born This Way” that inspired Weird Al Yankovic. After some purported back-and-forth with Gaga’s manager, Weird Al got the blessing from Lady herself to produce “Perform This Way,” and according to Weird Al, Gaga loves his satirical spin on her chart-burning single and it’ll now be on his new album, slated for June 21st release.

Glee was also inspired by the self-love and acceptance anthem. A special 90-minute episode, which aired on April 26, 2011, not only used “Born This Way” for the episode’s title, but also as its closing number and overall plot theme. And while I preferred the flash mob scene tuned to Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand,” I definitely agree with Aly Semigran at that “Born This Way” seems “almost tailor-made for Glee." Gaga also agrees, praising the show (and slamming those criticizing Glee for promoting a “gay agenda”) via Twitter:

"I really loved Glee's Born This Way episode. I admire the show for being brave + fighting for such modern social messaging. Never back down."¹

Of course, not everyone embraced “Born This Way” immediately. Initially, the song faced immense controversy due to its similarity to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” And while Gaga denies that she copied one of pop culture’s greatest icons, many have weighed in and now it’s almost impossible to not notice the similarities. (Perhaps the similarities stem from Gaga and Madonna being related.) Ultimately, the song won the world over, debuting at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (only the 1000th song to do so) and serving as Gaga’s seventh Top 10 song in a row.²

Gaga’s fame has only intensified since the drama of BTW’s initial single. She raked in the Most Innovative Artist Award at MTV's first-ever O Music Awards, gave a memorable entrance and performance at the Grammys, served as arguably the most helpful mentor of the season on American Idol, performed at Cannes, and just recently, reached 10 million followers on Twitter, beating out Justin Bieber to become “the first Twitter user to reach 10 million followers.” And finally, circling back to my librarian lead-in, Gaga also recently declared herself a librarian, too—of Glam Culture, that is.

So what’s next for the pop sensation? Besides touring and further promoting BTW, possibly a film career? Of course, that’s part of the allure of Gaga—there’s no telling what she’ll do next.

What do you think of Gaga? Is your library doing anything to celebrate BTW or prepare for the album’s release?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Two Studies Report DVDs Continued Market Dominance

Late this April, a Port Washington, New York-based market research company, the NPD Group, published a report that some may find surprising: physical media, like DVDs and Blu-rays, continue to be the format of choice for home movie watchers.

Highlights from the report include:
  • “More than 77% of consumers watched a movie on DVD or Blu-ray Disc during the past 90 days, compared with 21% who watched via transactional video-on-demand.”¹
    • Consumer adoption of video-on-demand services continues stuck at 20%.¹
  • Consumers reported that 78% of their home video budgets went to purchase or rent DVDs and/or Blu-rays.²
      • Nearly 80 cents of every dollar spent on home video movies goes toward the purchase or rental of physical discs.¹
    • Meanwhile, consumers spent only 15% on video subscription services like Netflix.²
    • The remaining 8% was split between digital video downloads, paid streaming, paid transactional video-on-demand, and pay-per-view.²
This study truly articulates that Blu-ray and DVD are still the dominant format for home entertainment. So why the many articles purporting the doom and gloom of the DVD industry?

“With the well-publicized struggles of Blockbuster and retail video stores closing around the country, and with media attention increasingly focused on the newest digital home video offerings, the value and importance of physical formats to the home video industry and to consumers is often overlooked,” Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group, explains.¹

Crupnick continues: “We expect strong growth from many digital sectors, driven by connected devices, improving selection and the consumer’s endless quest for convenience. For now, though, physical discs continue to lead overall engagement and spending by home video viewers; and even with increasing use of VOD and other digital formats, the primacy of DVD and Blu-ray in home video will continue for the foreseeable future.”³

An article from Home Media Magazine supports Crupnick’s assertion that physical discs will continue to dominate the home entertainment market. The article, entitled “Study Stresses Staying Power of Disc,” shares a March 2011 study which culled data from The Digital Entertainment Group, the Entertainment Merchants Association, and the Consumer Electronics Association.

The study concludes that digital distribution could take as long as a decade to reach majority market share. It also found that “purchases of Blu-ray Discs and players jumped 86% in 2010, giving further evidence that physical media as the primary home video medium will take substantially longer to fade out than the demise of VHS a decade ago.”

Other highlights from this study include:
  • 92 million U.S. households own a DVD player, 14 million own a Blu-ray player, and 46 million own gaming consoles that play either DVD or Blu-ray discs; thus, “it can be concluded that a large segment of the U.S. has committed to packaged media for their home video use.”
  • Only 11% of the 90 million HDTVs purchased between 2008 and 2011 are Internet-connected, “indicating the continued need for DVDs.”
  • “DVD rental demand will be about the same in 2014 as it was in 2008.”
    • Physical rental is “projected to have three times the market share as digital rentals in 2014, indicating that the obsolescence of physical media within the home video market is not a near-term event.”
  • Americans spent roughly $18 billion on DVD and Blu-rays in 2010 compared to $2 billion for VOD and electronic sell-through.
So how do these studies relate to your library beyond the fundamental libraries-circulate-DVDs relationship? Like Russ Crupnick explains above, traditional video stores are closing, yet the demand for physical media is still immense. And “even as the choices for viewing are expanding,” Crupnick says. “There is no evidence that consumers are abandoning physical discs for watching movies.”²

Thus, while libraries should definitely research digital media as an avenue for diversifying collections and providing patrons with more options, they shouldn’t be quick to neglect their physical collections or consider physical media dead. DVD (and Blu-ray) is still the format that the majority of Americans want, and libraries—as the only legal lenders of free media—should protect this crucial community role (especially as libraries become the primary source for DVD rentals in many areas) by maintaining quality physical collections.

What are your thoughts? What trends are you noticing in your library? These two studies were conducted in the U.S., do you think a study conducted in Canada would yield similar results?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shedding Light on Disney's Vault

The animated films from the Walt Disney Company are some of the best known and beloved of all time. These timeless classics are often shared with children by parents who originally saw and fell in love with the films as children themselves. Sales and rentals of Disney DVDs and Blu-rays are generally robust. However, finding Disney films on DVD and Blu-ray isn’t always a simple matter.

The Vault’s History
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made its theatrical debut in 1937. As an effort to raise profits during World War II, the company rereleased the film into theaters again in 1944. The success of this venture led to Disney’s policy of rereleasing their films to theaters every seven to ten years.1

This process continued through the mid-1980s, when the burgeoning home video market offered another potential outlet for Disney films. With the release of Sleeping Beauty on VHS in 1986, Disney switched its efforts from theatrical releases to home video releases.2 As the home video market has evolved from VHS to DVD and now Blu-ray, Disney has sought to replicate their strategy by limiting the length of time films are available for sale or rental, and keeping their titles on a rerelease schedule.

So What’s in There?
Films subject to Disney’s vault process are their “animated classics.” This includes a whole list of titles; notables include: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, The Jungle Book, The Fox and the Hound, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.3 Note that Pixar films (such as the Toy Story films and Finding Nemo) are not part of the vault program.

The most recent Disney releases from the vault are Beauty and the Beast and Bambi, both of which are now available on both DVD and Blu-ray.4 As for upcoming releases, look for a 70th Anniversary Edition of Dumbo in September, and The Lion King will be available again in October. Both titles will be available on Blu-ray for the first time in addition to their DVD versions.

Double-Edged Sword for Libraries
When a Disney film goes into the vault, it means it will be unavailable for sale or retail rental for several years. However, due to the films’ classic nature, there is always a certain level of demand, especially as parents want to show the movies to their children before their interest wanes. The library is a perfect solution to this conundrum. While Disney films are unavailable from other outlets, libraries can continue to circulate their copies during the moratorium period.

Of course, on the flip side, any copies that are lost or damaged while the film is in the vault will be unavailable for replacement. So it never hurts to keep an extra copy or two on hand in case of emergencies.

Midwest Tape will do our best to keep you informed of titles that are going into or coming out of the Disney vault. For example, in the April DVD Buyer’s Guide, we advertised three Disney titles that were about to be discontinued, along with the last date they could be ordered.

What Do You Think?
What do you think of Disney’s policy of placing films in the vault for several years? Have you noticed an increase in lending when these titles are discontinued? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Authors Eye New Markets

Publishers Weekly recently noted five Young Adult (YA) authors, like Melissa Marr, that are making the leap this year into “adult” fiction. Likewise, a number of adult authors, like John Grisham and James Patterson, have started to publish works aimed at young adults. So what’s with all the crossing over?

It’s no great mystery why adult writers are venturing into the teen market. Just look at the mega-success that franchises like Harry Potter and Twilight have created for authors J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer. The Potter phenomenon made Rowling the first author ever to appear on Forbes’s annual billionaires list.1 Meyer was second (to James Patterson) on Forbes’s most recent list of highest-paid authors.2

Figures show that YA lit sales are increasing and adult lit sales are declining.3 And it’s not just teens driving the YA craze. More and more, adults are picking up YA novels for themselves. So, in an odd way, adult authors are turning to young adult fiction because that’s where their own audience is.

For YA authors, it’s a slightly different story. While they’re undoubtedly interested in expanding their audience as well, it seems likely that they’ve always been interested in writing more complex stories and handling more mature themes than the traditional YA market would allow. As adult readers take an interest in YA fiction, though, they’re able to push the envelope.

What do you think of the blurred lines between teen and adult fiction? Have you noticed the crossover trend in your library? What YA titles are popular with adults, or vice versa? Let us know in the comments below.