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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Katy Perry Dominates Billboard Chart; Joins the Ranks of Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey

Pop music sensation Katy Perry recently joined a very elite club. When her single “E.T.” hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, it became the fourth track from her current album, Teenage Dream, to do so. Only eight other albums have yielded four #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart; Perry’s is the first since Usher’s Confessions in 2004, and the first by a female since Mariah Carey’s self-titled debut in 1990.1

Looking at the full list of artists and albums to attain this feat, you’ll see that Perry has joined some legendary artists who have made a great impact throughout their years in the music industry. Teenage Dream is only Perry’s second album; thus, this honor seems to bode well for the 26-year-old artist and her young career.

Although she didn’t take home any awards, Perry was nominated for four Grammy Awards this year, including Album of the Year for Teenage Dream.2 At the time, there was a certain amount of uproar over the nomination. In retrospect, after yielding so many #1 hits, perhaps the nomination was justified after all. Then again, we all know that popularity doesn’t always mean something is “good.”

Certainly Ms. Perry is no stranger to controversy, even aside from the consternation over her Grammy nomination. So what do you think? Leave us your comments on Katy Perry, her music, her accomplishments, and her controversies.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Audiobooks Everyone Should Hear

Last month, I came across a blog post on Stephen’s Lighthouse about a consensus cloud entitled “Books Everyone Should Read.” This post inspired us here at Midwest Tape to develop our own cloud.

After scouring through critical review sources (like Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal), award nominees and winners (such as The Audies, Parents Choice, and AudioFile Earphones), and lists from major publications (like The New York Times, O Magazine, US Weekly, and Entertainment Weekly), Midwest Tape noted and tallied the most frequently occurring titles.

From this tallied list, we constructed our “Audiobooks Everyone Should Hear” cloud. These audiobooks have garnered the most critical praise, awards, and popularity over time.

Do you see your library’s most popular audiobook?
What audiobook do you recommend the most? Is it in our cloud?

Click image to enlarge.

Is your library missing anything from our audio cloud? Shop this collection of classics and contemporary sensations now: search “Audiobooks Everyone Should Hear” in SmartBrowse.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hot This Week: April 25

The Foo dethrone Adele; Harry Potter begins his ascent to the number one spot; and women authors dominate the top positions of both the fiction and nonfiction lists.

  1. Little Fockers
  2. Tron: Legacy
  3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  5. Black Swan
  6. The Tourist 
  7. Tangled
  8. Country Strong
  9. The Fighter
  10. Skyline 
  1. Foo Fighters, Wasting Light
  2. Adele, 21 
  3. Alison Krauss + Union Station, Paper Airplane
  4. Paul Simon, So Beautiful or So What
  5. Mana, Drama y Luz 
  6. Britney Spears, Femme Fatale
  7. Songs for Japan  
  8. Wiz Khalifa, Rolling Papers
  9. Chris Brown, F.A.M.E.
  10. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
Fiction Books
  1. Chasing Fire, Nora Roberts
  2. The Land of Painted Caves, Jean M. Auel
  3. The Fifth Witness, Michael Connelly
  4. I'll Walk Alone, Mary Higgins Clark
  5. 44 Charles Street, Danielle Steel
  6. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson
  7. Save Me, Lisa Scottoline
  8. The Pale King, David Foster Wallace
  9. Sing You Home, Jodi Picoult
  10. Live Wire, Harlan Coben
Nonfiction Books
  1. Bossypants, Tina Fey
  2. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  3. I'm Over All That, Shirley MacLaine
  4. 63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read, Jesse Ventura with Dick Russell
  5. All That is Bitter and Sweet, Ashley Judd with Maryanne Vollers
  6. Malcolm X, Manning Marable 
  7. She Walks in Beauty, selected and introduced by Caroline Kennedy
  8. The Social Animal, David Brooks
  9. Red, Sammy Hagar
  10. Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Enhancing Summer Vacations with Audiobooks

April showers may bring May flowers, but it also brings spring break for school kids and the fleeting thoughts of imminent summer vacation. While children look forward to a lengthy break from school, we all know that the cries of “I’m bored!” aren’t far behind. One solution to this familiar complaint? Audiobooks. Libraries can provide relief to kids and adults with their robust selection of hot new titles and familiar favorites.

Versatile Entertainment
The great thing about audiobooks is that you can listen to them anywhere. Both kids and adults alike can pick one out to listen to around the house or take them along on the go. While a multiple-disc audiobook itself may be a little unwieldy, it can always be loaded onto an MP3 player; or there’s the convenient Playaway format.

Of course, “I’m bored!” is just one of the dreaded cries of summer vacation. For families that may be taking long car trips, another is “Are we there yet?” Audiobooks are a great way to make the miles pass more quickly. Instead of everyone being isolated their own earbuds, smartphones, or games, an audiobook played on the vehicle’s stereo system is something everyone can enjoy and engage in. Then the cliché that getting there is half the fun will inspire smiles and nods instead of eye-rolls and grimaces.

More than Just Entertainment
Audiobooks can provide more than entertainment, though. One obvious advantage of audiobooks is that they’re accessible even to those with sight or reading disorders. Studies have shown that listening to audiobooks increases the reading accuracy of children with developmental dyslexia, which in turn improves their overall school performance and behavior. Also, listening to audiobooks helps ESL students with fluency in English, which includes many of the same benefits.

However, audiobooks also benefit children without reading disorders and for whom English is their native language. It’s well known, for example, that reading to children from an early age is vital to their success as they learn to read themselves. While nothing can replace the one-on-one interaction between a child and a parent (or another loved one), audiobooks can serve as a fantastic complement.

As reading skills develop, using audiobooks while reading along can increase a child’s comprehension. This is particularly true for works that depend on dialects (like those by Mark Twain) or depend on older forms of the language (like Shakespeare). As they listen, students get the sense of the rhythm of the language, and thus become better equipped to read aloud themselves.

Listening to audiobooks also increases a child’s interest in reading, both via audiobooks and regular printed books. In that sense, children who start with audiobooks often become lifelong readers.

It’s important to note, too, that audiobooks offer advantages for adults as well, aside from being something they can share with the family. You can listen to them to pass the time on your daily commute or workout, or slip into your earbuds when you need to escape from the rest of the world for a few minutes (or more). Readers with failing eyesight can continue to enjoy audiobooks. And studies have shown that engaging the mind through reading or listening to audiobooks can decrease the risk of memory loss by 30 to 50 percent.

Spread the Word!
Unfortunately, the use of audiobooks as an educational tool is often limited because parents and even teachers are unaware of the benefits. You can help them out simply by promoting your library’s audiobook collection. How about a display of great summer listens or audiobooks that may be on local school reading lists? Let Midwest Tape help! Check out our collection of 2011 summer listening for kids from AudioFile magazine.

Do you know of other audiobook benefits we didn’t discuss? Are audiobooks a part of your summer reading program? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Hot This Week: April 18

New releases shake up the fiction and nonfiction lists; meanwhile, established favorite 21 by Adele reclaims music's number one spot. In DVDs, family films dominate.

  1. Little Fockers
  2. Tron: Legacy
  3. Black Swan
  4. Tangled
  5. The Tourist 
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  7. The Fighter
  8. Skyline 
  9. How Do You Know
  10. Yogi Bear 
  1. Adele, 21 
  2. Britney Spears, Femme Fatale
  3. Radiohead, King of Limbs 
  4. Hollywood Undead, American Tragedy 
  5. Wiz Khalifa, Rolling Papers 
  6. Chris Brown, F.A.M.E.
  7. Songs for Japan 
  8. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
  9. Asking Alexandria, Reckless & Relentless
  10. Kirk Franklin, Hello Fear 
Fiction Books
  1. The Fifth Witness, Michael Connelly
  2. The Land of Painted Caves, Jean M. Auel
  3. I'll Walk Alone, Mary Higgins Clark
  4. 44 Charles Street, Danielle Steel
  5. Miles to Go, Richard Paul Evans
  6. Lover Unleashed, J.R. Ward
  7. Crunch Time, Diane Mott Davidson
  8. Toys, James Patterson and Neil McMahon
  9. Live Wire, Harlan Coben
  10. The Secret Life of Damian Spinelli, Carolyn Hennesy
Nonfiction Books
  1. Bossypants, Tina Fey
  2. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  3. Malcolm X, Manning Marable
  4. 63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read, Jesse Ventura with Dick Russell
  5. All That is Bitter and Sweet, Ashley Judd with Maryanne Vollers
  6. The Social Animal, David Brooks
  7. Onward, Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon
  8. Red, Sammy Hagar
  9. Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
  10. Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Four Ways to Recycle Damaged Jewel Cases

Jewel cases crack; their hinges snap; and their disc teeth break. It’s no wonder so many of our customers are signing up for case transfers, requesting their CDs arrive repackaged in more durable, drop-box-safe cases. But what do you do with all the broken Jewels you have back at your library? In honor of Earth Day, we decided to research and share with you how to recycle your Jewel cases.

Unfortunately, recycling your Jewels isn’t as simple as tossing them in your city-issued big blue recycling receptacle. Jewel cases are made from brittle polystyrene—a type of plastic that takes a very long time to biodegrade. Because of its light weight and low scrap value, polystyrene is not easily recycled, thus most curbside collection programs do not accept it. Many people then turn to simply tossing their polystyrene—like Styrofoam, yogurt cups, and disposable razors—into the garbage, ultimately contributing to beach and ocean debris as well as incinerators and permanent landfills.

Most recycling centers encourage people to reuse their Jewel cases if possible—like as a lamp, a birdhouse, or bookends. Has your library done an activity that involves reusing Jewel cases? If so, what creative things did your team and/or patrons make?

If your cases are destroyed, though, and therefore not reusable, there are a handful of recycling options:

1.) CD Recycling Center of America advises people to box up all their damaged Jewel cases; mark the box “Cases Only”; and ship the box to:

The Compact Disc Recycling Center of America
68E Stiles Road
Salem, NH 03079

They’ll recycle the damaged cases for you, and while you’ll have to pay for shipping, you’ll generate less trash, contribute less to landfills, and decrease the amount of incinerator emissions polluting our air. CD Recycling Center of America suggests your library make a campaign of it and encourage patrons to also donate any damaged cases.

Note: CD Recycling Center of America also recycles damaged discs. You can box up your discs and mark the package “discs only” and ship it to the same above address.

2.) CD Recycling Central, located in California, has drop-off centers in Chino and San Diego, offers pick-up service throughout southern California, and (luckily for us non-Californians) happily accepts any mailed items. To mail your damaged cases, simply box them up and ship them to:

Polysource International Inc.
401 S. Euclid Ave.
Ontario, California 91761

Once again, you pay for shipping, but CD Recycling Central notes that if you ship “media mail” you’ll pay less for postage. You can also toss any damaged discs you want recycled into your box as well. Discs and cases do not need separated.

3.) GreenDisk also offers Jewel case collection as well as a slew of other “technotrash” (like discs, ink cartridges, cell phones, videotapes, pagers, and PDAs). After packing up your damaged cases and weighing your box, you can purchase and print a shipping label through GreenDisk’s site.

GreenDisk differs from the other two companies above in that a small fee is worked into the shipping amount you purchase. However, you are able to box up other “technotrash” in your case box and have GreenDisk take care of recycling all of it.

4.) Visit, and enter “#6 Plastic (Polystyrene)” and your library’s city or zip code to search for nearby drop-off recycling centers. You can then follow packaging and drop-off instructions provided by the listed nearby centers. screenshot

How Midwest Tape Recycles Cases
We here at Midwest Tape are really big on recycling too. In 2010, we recycled 262,050 pounds of plastic DVD and CD cases. We work with a local plastic solution company that collects and recycles our Polystyrene for use in underground utility boxes.

Now that we’ve reviewed ways to recycle Jewel cases, let’s get your insights. Know of any other ways to recycle damaged cases? What else does your library reuse or recycle? How are you celebrating Earth Day?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hot This Week: April 11

Britney Spears lays claim to music's number one spot, and Starbucks' story of success proves it's far more than a puff piece, debuting at number one on the nonfiction list.

  1. Black Swan
  2. The Tourist
  3. Tangled
  4. The Fighter
  5. Skyline 
  6. How Do You Know
  7. Yogi Bear 
  8. The Switch 
  9. Hereafter
  10. The Next Three Days
  1. Britney Spears, Femme Fatale
  2. Wiz Khalifa, Rolling Papers
  3. Adele, 21 
  4. Chris Brown, F.A.M.E.
  5. Songs for Japan 
  6. Radiohead, King of Limbs
  7. Jennifer Hudson, I Remember Me 
  8. Snoop Dogg, Doggumentary 
  9. Kirk Franklin, Hello Fear
  10. Mary Mary, Something Big
Fiction Books
  1. The Land of Painted Caves, Jean M. Auel
  2. Lover Unleashed, J.R. Ward
  3. Mystery, Jonathan Kellermand
  4. Live Wire, Harlan Coben
  5. Toys, James Patterson and Neil McMahon
  6. The Troubled Man, Henning Mankell
  7. Sing You Home, Jodi Picoult
  8. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
  9. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, Alexander McCall Smith
  10. The Jungle, Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul
Nonfiction Books
  1. Onward, Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon
  2. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  3. The Social Animal, David Brooks
  4. Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
  5. Red, Sammy Hagar
  6. All My Life, Susan Lucci
  7. Rawhide Down, Del Quentin Wilber
  8. Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
  9. Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku
  10. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Midwest Tape Launching Playaway View

We here at Midwest Tape are all a-buzz, and it isn’t just because spring is finally here. It’s the Playaway View—the first and only pre-loaded video player available exclusively to libraries!

Circulation Ready
The Playaway View has a built-in speaker, so no ear buds are necessary. (It does have a headphone jack for patrons who’d prefer to listen to the device with their own ear buds.) The View also doesn’t require standard batteries. Featuring an internal lithium-polymer battery, the View provides over 8 hours of continuous play and can be charged with its included AC adapter. To enhance its shelf-readiness, the View comes in a One-Time™ Lock compatible package similar to Playaway Audio’s case.

Kid Friendly
The Playaway View is not only portable, but also extremely durable. Specifically designed to withstand drops, the View weighs only 5.4 ounces and features a shatter-resistant acrylic screen cover, making it the perfect entertainment device for kids.

Variety of Programs
Pre-loaded with multiple videos, the View will offer titles from such studios as Sesame Street, PBS Kids, TumbleBooks, National Geographic, Weston Woods, Spoken Arts, TMW Media Group, Schlessinger, 100% Educational Books, and Nickelodeon. Each player will feature three to seven titles bundled together.

Utmost Usability
The View features a 3.5" full-color LCD screen for vibrant video viewing and has a simple 7 button functionality. Ensuring the quality of your product is easy too! The Playaway View features the same one year warranty as Playaway Audio devices.

The View will be available to Midwest Tape customers starting in May. Stay tuned to to learn more about availability and ordering.

Got View Qs? Post them here as comments or contact Customer Service at 800.875.2785.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hot This Week

Many big releases push the Biebs out of music's top ten. Meanwhile, the DVD chart sees a good mix of films and TV-to-DVD.

  1. Tangled
  2. Thriller: The Complete Series
  3. Tron: Legacy
  4. Black Swan
  5. Friday Night Lights: The Fifth Season
  6. Mad Men, Season 4
  7. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  8. Inside Job
  9. Megamind
  10. Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30
  1. Chris Brown, F.A.M.E.
  2. Jennifer Hudson, I Remember Me 
  3. Adele, 21 
  4. The Strokes, Angles
  5. Kirk Franklin, Hello Fear
  6. Songs for Japan
  7. Panic! at the Disco, Vices & Virtues
  8. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
  9. Bobby V, Fly on the Wall
  10. Lupe Fiasco, Lasers
Fiction Books
  1. Live Wire, Harlan Coben
  2. Toys, James Patterson and Neil McMahon
  3. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, Alexander McCall Smith
  4. Sing You Home, Jodi Picoult
  5. Night Road, Kristin Hannah
  6. A Lesson in Secrets, Jacqueline Winspear
  7. The Jungle, Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul
  8. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, Stieg Larsson
  9. The Tiger's Wife, Tea Obreht
  10. Cold Wind, C.J. Box
Non-Fiction Books
  1. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  2. The Social Animal, David Brooks
  3. Red, Sammy Hagar
  4. Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer
  5. Unfamiliar Fishes, Sarah Vowell
  6. Physics of the Future, Michio Kaku
  7. Jesus of Nazareth, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
  8. Blood, Bones, and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton 
  9. Decision Points, George W. Bush
  10. Cleopatra, Stacy Schiff