Used Book Sale

        We’re having another used book sale to try to reduce the piles of used books. All used books will be at least 20% off, whether you have a discount card or not. The sale includes used paperbacks, used hardcovers, used magazines, used gaming books, and bagged books.
        Because we have so many used audiobooks, we will be selling all used audiobooks at $5.00 each, whether cassette or CD.
        We used to do a fair amount of business in used true crime books, but they have been very slow for the last couple of years. We’d rather have the space for other uses, so all used true crime books will be 50% off.
        The sale runs Friday, June 1 through Sunday, June 10. That gives you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.
        This sale will be for customers shopping in the store–it does not apply to mail orders. If you are thinking about bringing in lots of used books to sell during the sale, expect a longer than normal wait. And don’t bother to drag along your used true crime books.

Award News

        The Nebula Award nominees for Best Novel are Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly ($15.99), The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss ($16.99), Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory ($27.95), The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin ($16.99), Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty ($15.99), Jade City by Fonda Lee ($26.00, $15.99 tr pb due early July), and Autonomous by Annalee Newitz ($25.99).
        The Nebula Award nominees for Best Novella are River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey ($14.99), Passing Strange by Ellen Klages ($14.99), “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker, Barry’s Deal by Lawrence M. Schoen, All Systems Red by Martha Wells ($14.99), and The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ($15.99).

        The Crawford Award for best first book of fantasy went to Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado ($16.00).

        The Hugo Award nominees for Best Novel are The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin ($16.99), Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty ($15.99), Provenance by Ann Leckie ($26.00 signed first edition, $15.99 tr pb due mid-July)), Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee ($9.99), New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson ($17.99), and Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi ($9.99).
        The Hugo Award nominees for Best Novella are River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey ($14.99). Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire ($17.99), Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor ($14.99), “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker, All Systems Red by Martha Wells ($14.99), and The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ($15.99).

        The Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original in the U.S. went to Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn ($14.99).

        The Agatha Award winners included Best Contemporary Novel to Glass Houses by Louise Penny ($16.99 tr pb or $9.99 mass market), Best First Novel to Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett ($14.99), and Best Historical Novel to In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen ($14.95),
        The Edgar Allan Poe Awards included Best Novel to Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke ($26.00), Best First Novel by an American Author to She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper ($16.99), Best Paperback Original to The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola ($15.99), and Best Fact Crime to Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann ($15.95). The Mary Higgins Clark Award went to The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman ($15.99).

How’s Business?
by Don Blyly

        Business was down a little for January, February, and March. Then April happened. It was the fourth coldest April on record, and included the record-breaking blizzard on April 14-15. We did $150 of in-store business for the entire weekend, fortunately aided a bit by some mail orders. Then, we had about a week of Spring before Summer hit. As one customer commented, “On Monday my lawn was brown, on Tuesday it turned green, and by the weekend I had to mow it.”
        I keep track of various reports of how the book industry is doing, and then try to figure out how much our business reflects industry trends and how much is just because of Minnesota weather. There was a report that January bookstore sales dropped 9.1%, for the 6th consecutive month of declining sales, while for the entire retail segment sales were up by 5%. But the report also indicated that college bookstores normally have a larger than usual impact on bookstore sales in January because of students buying books for the spring semester, and more students are now renting textbooks or going with digital products instead of buying textbooks. So, this report doesn’t really tell me anything useful about how the Uncles are doing compared to regular bookstore. Another report indicated that in February bookstore sales finally had a small increase over the same period the year before. I guess I’ll have to blame our decrease on Minnesota weather. Another report showed that e-book sales dropped by 10% in 2017 compared to 2016. E-book sales peaked several years ago and have been going down every year since then. Another report indicated that the sales of books through bookstores has increases compared to the sales of books through mass merchandisers (Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, etc.). Publishers have realized for years that they can sell huge numbers of a few titles through the mass merchandisers, but that the mass merchandisers will ruthlessly cut back on the square feet of space dedicated to books if they decide they can generate more sales by devoting those square feet to a different product.
        The parking situation has changed. For over 20 years the dental clinic next door to the Uncles has allowed our customers to use their parking lot when they were closed. We’ve had a sign on our front door for over 20 years explaining when it was okay to park there and when it was not okay to park there. Most of our customers complied with the sign, but some ignored the sign and got away with it because the old dentist was pretty easy going. The old dentist sold the clinic in December, and the new dentist is more insistent that his parking lot is only for his customers when the clinic is open. Around the beginning of April he put up signs at both ends of his lot warning “You Will Be Towed” if you use his lot without being a patient of the clinic. I had a talk with him regarding the old arrangement with the old dentist and asked about our customers using the lot when his clinic was not open. He was fed up with people parking in his lot instead of Popeyes’ lot to eat their fried chicken and then throwing the trash out their windows and driving away, with people parking in his lot and hopping a bus downtown, with people parking in his lot and then hanging out for hours at the bus hub across the street, with his patients not being able to park in his lot because all the spaces were taken by non-patients. So he was going to start towing cars that didn’t belong there. I showed him the sign on our front door and what we post on our website about parking in his parking lot. He said that it was okay for our customers to park in his lot on Saturdays and Sundays when the clinic is closed. But he was also planning to change his hours. The old dentist was only working the clinic Monday through Thursday, and the new dentist was trying to hire more people so that he could open the clinic on Fridays (and the clinic is already open every other Friday, soon to be every Friday) and he wanted to extend the hours from 5 pm until either 6 pm or 7 pm so that people could get dental care done after work instead of having to take time off work, so soon the only time our customers would be able to use his lot would be Saturdays and Sundays. We immediately changed the information on our website, and as soon as the new hours are posted, we’ll change the sign on our front door. Around May 1, a van-load of people parked in his lot at 10 am while the clinic was open, ignored the “You Will Be Towed” sign at the entrance to the lot, ignored the sign on our front door, shopped at Uncle Hugo’s for an hour, and then went back to load their books into the van–but the van had been towed. Please take the “You Will Be Towed” sign seriously and only park in the dental clinic lot if the clinic is closed. The “You Will Be Towed” sign says that the minimum charge if you are towed is $246, and we’d prefer that you spend your book budget on books instead of paying for a tow charge.
        Our restock of T-shirts and sweatshirts arrived late in April, and the prices did not go up. The T-shirts are available in about a dozen colors (11 colors from this order, plus some leftover pink shirts from last time) in adult sizes S, M, L, and XL at $14.00 each and XXL at $17.00. The sweatshirts are available in adult sizes L and XL at $27.00 and XXL at $30.00. We added black sweatshirts to our color selection this year. The T-shirts and sweatshirts are available either with Uncle Hugo’s on the front and Uncle Edgar’s on the back or with Uncle Edgar’s on the front and Uncle Hugo’s on the back. We also restocked with the Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s book bags, available at $10.00.
        Publishers changing prices can sometimes cause us problems and sometimes leave us puzzled. When we first order new releases from the publishers’ catalogs (which are now almost always digital instead of paper catalogs), we assume that the books will actually arrive at the price at which we ordered them. For four out of the five big publishers, that is usually true. One of the big five publishers changes the price (almost always upward, usually by $1, but sometime $2 or more) on about 1/3 of the titles that we’ve ordered. Elizabeth enters into our database all the information about the titles we’ve ordered based on what the publishers claim when we place the orders. Then, just before we produce the newsletter, she goes back to check the current claims regarding price and date of release for each title, so that the information in the newsletter is as accurate as possible. The newsletter goes out, mail orders come in, and then the books come in. And many of them come in at a higher price than expected. For people who shop in-store, they probably don’t remember if the newsletter said the book was going to be $25.00, so they look at the book with a price of $26.00 and decide if it looks interesting enough to buy at that price. For people who send in a mail order with credit card information, we assume if the person was willing to pay $25.00 for the title, they’ll still want it at $26.00, and we process the charge according to the new price of the book. But when people send in a check with their mail order, we have a problem. Usually, we ship the order, cash the check, and ask that the customer add any balance due to their next order to make up the difference.
        Publishers also sometimes raise the price when they run out of copies at the old price. When Uncle Hugo’s started, the common price for a mass market paperback was $1.25, but $1.50 was slowly becoming more common. For years, it seemed like every time we reordered books, the price would go up. Sell out of $1.25 copies, reorder, get them in at $1.50. Sell out at $1.50, reorder, get them in at $1.75. Sell out at $1.75, reorder, get them in at $1.95. The slowly rising price of the books allowed everybody in the supply chain to cope with inflation. Publishers, wholesalers, and retailers all made a few more cents per book so that they could deal with rising rents, utility bills, wages, supply costs, etc.
        We had about 8-10 years when inflation was very low, and the price of mass market paperbacks were pretty much stuck at $7.99 (except for the “premium” mass market paperbacks that were half an inch taller than regular mass market paperbacks, which were stuck at $9.99). Over the last couple of years, the prices have come unstuck, sometimes wildly so. When titles that had been $7.99 were reprinted at $8.99 or even $9.99, we didn’t mind that. When Dune was reprinted at $10.99, it didn’t hurt sales at all. But we recently reordered a $24.95 hardcover and had it come in at $34.95. And we are starting to see $7.99 mass market titles being reprinted at $12.99. When the first book of a trilogy by a relatively new author suddenly jumps that much in price, I think it is going to kill sales of the entire trilogy.