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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Super Group SuperHeavy Emerges

Soul singer and actress Joss Stone recently joined an exciting new project with a group of heavy hitters. The brand new supergroup, SuperHeavy, features the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, the EurythmicsDave Stewart, reggae star Damien Marley, and the genius behind the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire, Indian film composer A.R. Rahman. Together the group shares eleven Grammy Awards.

They’ve been working on their album over the summer in various studios around the world, and now, the self-titled album is coming to fruition, releasing on September 20th. Co-produced by Jagger and Stewart, the album will feature an eclectic blend of rock, reggae, soul, and blues. There will be a standard 12-track edition and a 16-track deluxe edition.

Check out the music video for SuperHeavy’s first single, “Miracle Worker,” below. You can also download the MP3 of the track here:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dystopian Lit: YA's Next Big Thing

First it was witches and wizards or teens with various magical powers. Then came vampires and werewolves and paranormal romance. Now the young adult literature world is brimming with dystopian and post-apocalyptic tales. Why are these seemingly dark themes striking such a chord with today’s youth?

What Is Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Literature?
Utopia, of course, is the concept of the perfect society, first explored in Sir Thomas More’s 1516 novel.1 Dystopian literature takes that concept and flips it, portraying a society that is often oppressive or stricken with poverty. George Orwell’s 1984 is perhaps the best-known example of dystopian lit. Post-apocalyptic lit takes it a step further, showing a world in which society has, for the most part, collapsed due to some catastrophic event, such as a nuclear war (a recent entry in this genre is The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which was selected for Oprah’s book club in 2007).

Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? And yet something in these tales calls out to teens and keeps them coming back for more. The New York Times offers a great resource for exploring dystopian fiction and YA readers’ attitudes toward it.

Dystopian Fiction
Dystopian novels, for both kids and adults, have been around for a long time, but those for the YA set are enjoying a recent surge in popularity. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins is just one example of this type of story. In it, young people are forced to compete each year in a televised murder-fest for the entertainment of society’s elites, who live in the Capitol. As in most dystopian fiction, the protagonist struggles against her society’s rules, eventually seeking to overthrow the system altogether.2

The difference between dystopian fiction for kids and that for adults is that adult stories are usually grimmer. The Hunger Games, for instance, provides a happy conclusion; 1984 does not. The age range of readers, however, may not be vastly different for the two books—The Hunger Games is recommended for readers aged fifteen and up, and 1984 is on many high school (14-18) reading lists. But The Hunger Games, specifically geared toward younger readers, offers a more hopeful tone.

The reasons for this are simple. Adult dystopian tales generally offer a warning of the consequences of some current trend or worry.2 YA dystopia, on the other hand, is often written as an allegory for the lives of teenagers themselves. After all, an oppressive and restrictive society makes a lot of sense for teen readers surrounded by authority figures (teachers, parents, etc.) and ready to test the boundaries. As YA author Scott Westerfield points out in his blog, “Teenagers’ lives are constantly defined by rules, and in response they construct their identities through necessary confrontations with authority, large and small. Imagining a world in which those authorities must be destroyed by any means necessary is one way of expanding that game. Imagining a world in which those authorities are utterly gone is another.”3

That being the case, it’s easy to see why these stories tend to end happily. Teens reading them as reflections of their own lives aren’t going to relate to stories that don’t offer any hope.

For a list of great works of dystopian fiction, click here.

Post-Apocalyptic Romance
Post-apocalyptic fiction often reads almost as a sub-genre of dystopian lit, but it does offer some themes of its own. Instead of a repressive society, for instance, there may be no society to speak of, having been wiped out in whatever catastrophe led to the state of humankind portrayed within. Now many authors are taking it a step further by adding the element of romance.

The post-apocalyptic part of the story appeals to YA readers for much the same reason dystopian lit does: the protagonist struggling against all odds to survive and figure out a world that no longer makes sense.4 The romance aspect appeals to them for obvious reasons as well as they’re generally discovering that part of their lives themselves. In that sense, these novels carry on the popularity of Twilight and the paranormal romance genre that spawned from it.

In Your Library
Publishers Weekly blogger Josie Leavitt has noticed that some parents struggle with their children reading books that deal with such dark topics.5 She argues, though, that teens identify with these stories for the reasons mentioned above, and that parents should talk to librarians and booksellers to help determine what reading material is appropriate for their children.

What do you think of this trend in YA literature? Are dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories flying off the shelves at your library? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Two Musical Divas Break Billboard Records

This past April, we blogged about Katy Perry joining an elite group of superstars by gaining four No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from one album. Now the pop superstar has really done it. According to an article on, Katy Perry has become “the first woman, and second artist overall following Michael Jackson, in the 53-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 to send five songs from an album to No. 1.”

Her hit summer single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" became the fifth chart-topper from her sophomore album, Teenage Dream. The hit single followed her other number ones: "California Gurls" (featuring Snoop Dogg), “Teenage Dream," "Firework,” and "E.T." (featuring Kanye West).

Meanwhile, pop-soul singer Adele has also broken a noteworthy record. Her sophomore album, 21, has racked up more weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart than any other album in the past decade. According to an article on, 21 has spent the most weeks at No. 1 since Santana's Supernatural, which racked a dozen leading frames in late 1999 and early 2000.

But it doesn’t stop at Billboard; Adele’s album is now CVS Midwest Tape’s all-time bestselling CD as well with over 4000 units ordered.

Both 21 and Teenage Dream continue to gain popularity. Adele is only on her first single, “Rolling in the Deep,” with 21, so there’s still plenty of time for her to break more Billboard (and Midwest Tape) records. And many are surmising that Katy Perry may very well shoot to surpass the King of Pop and make Billboard history by releasing a sixth single (most likely the track “Peacock”) from Teenage Dream.

Do you think Perry will release a sixth single? Is her album worthy of the records it’s breaking? How strong will Adele’s 21 perform in the future? Will sequels following “Rolling in the Deep” perform as well?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Over 18,000 Movie Trailers Available at

You can now watch over 18,000 theatrical trailers directly from our website. Simply click the “watch trailer” icon within Search or SmartBrowse to view the trailer in a pop-up window.

Note that trailers require Adobe® Flash® for proper viewing. Click here to download the latest version of Flash.

Visit now to start watching trailers while you shop DVDs.

What do you think of the trailer feature? Does it aid your selection decisions? What other website features would enhance your shopping experience?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Libraries Offer Moviegoers a Free Alternative

A recent article in the Toledo Blade discusses the toll the Cineplex experience is taking on moviegoers, citing high ticket and concession prices. “It's no secret that movie studios gobble up 60 percent or more of box-office ticket sales for their films,” the article states. “With ticket sales such an unreliable form of revenue, movie theatres over the years came to rely even more on concessions to make up the difference.”

The article goes on to highlight the cost of concessions within a theatre compared to that of a grocery store: “For example, a large 32-ounce drink at Rave costs $5. Compare that to the 66 cents it costs for two 12-ounce cans of soda—as part of a 12 pack for $4—to fill that same 32-ounce cup along with a generous scoop of ice to cover the difference.”

Because of the higher cost of tickets and snacks, the article reports that many moviegoers find they can’t afford the Cineplex experience all too often: “the Otts, who are from Sylvania [Ohio], say they can't afford to go to movies more than once a month. ‘I don't think anybody could afford to do that,’ Ed [Ott] said.”

So what should moviegoers do when they can’t afford a night out at the Cineplex? Turn to their local library! Patrons can check out new DVD releases or sequels and prequels for flicks coming soon to theatres; then make a quick stop at the grocery store to stock up on snacks.

And while today’s theatres offer quite the experience—the newest movies, digital sound, digital projection, stadium seating, and 3D films—they also are hindered by shorter windows for film showings as well as crowds, high prices, and disturbances like chatting and cell phones. On some nights and for some movies, it’s worth it. But other times, a peaceful night at home watching a free DVD from the local library, eating some snacks from the grocery, and ultimately saving money seems like an OK trade-off to me.

But what about you? What do you think? Is the movie-going experience irreplaceable? Or is a night with a DVD or Blu-ray movie a solid alternative? Share your thoughts below as comments.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Outdated Browser Causes Problems

Last month, more than 300 visitors viewed the CVS Midwest Tape website via outdated browser software. Microsoft originally released Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) in August, 2001; its successor, IE7, released in October, 2006.1 Thus, IE6 users are viewing the Internet with software that’s been obsolete for nearly five years.

Why Upgrade?
If you’re still using IE6, don’t worry: we’re not here to judge, and you’re not alone by any means. As of June of this year, IE6 still accounts for 3.72% of all U.S. web traffic.2 But there’s an effort to change that, encouraging users to upgrade to newer browsing software; interestingly enough, it’s being led by Microsoft itself.3

There are any number of reasons to upgrade, features and security being chief among them. What’s likely most relevant, though, is that many websites have evolved to where they’re no longer compatible with IE6. CVS Midwest Tape's website is among them. We strive to have the best and most user-friendly website for librarians, and IE6 is no longer capable of supporting the technology it takes to provide such an online experience.

What Are My Options?
Fortunately, there are a slew of web browsers that can handle the rapidly evolving, most cutting-edge websites of today. There’s no single right answer; it’s simply a matter of finding one that meets your needs and that you feel comfortable using.

Internet Explorer continues to be the most popular choice, currently holding nearly 53% of the browser market share.4 It’s currently on version 8 (IE8), or 9 (IE9) if you’re running the Windows 7 operating system. To download the current version of Internet Explorer, visit

Or, if you’re so inclined, take one of these other popular browsers for a spin.
Mozilla Firefox:
Google Chrome:
Apple Safari:

To aid you in your decision, Top Ten Reviews offers comparisons and reviews for the top ten browsers. If you’re a fan of a particular browser, give us your recommendation in the comments below.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dual-Sided DVDs May Cause Confusion

When you pop open a DVD case, you generally expect to see some bright and shiny graphics staring at you from the label side of the DVD. Occasionally, however, what you may find instead is a disc that has no label but is as blank and shiny on one side as it is on the other. So what gives?

If you come across one of these discs, what you have in your hands is a dual-sided DVD. There are many reasons why a studio may publish a dual-sided disc. Perhaps a widescreen version is one side and full screen on the other, or a theatrical version and unrated version. In the case of TV series or miniseries, the second side may simply continue from the first. In any case, what it boils down to is taking content that would otherwise require two discs and compressing it onto one.

What do these dual-sided discs mean for libraries? In general, they aren’t much different from single-sided discs. The one thing you must keep in mind, though, is that you can’t apply labels to or write on the surface of either side of a dual-sided disc; doing so will render that side of the disc unplayable. If you must affix labels or write on the discs, it must be done on the plastic hub in the middle of the disc.

Do you have questions or concerns about dual-sided DVDs? Have you experienced any issues with them in your library? Let us know in the comments section below.