Uncle Hugo’s is the oldest surviving science fiction bookstore in the United States. We opened for business on March 2, 1974. To encourage you to help us celebrate Uncle Hugo’s 42nd Anniversary, we’re having a sale. Come into either Uncle Hugo’s or Uncle Edgar’s and get 10% off everything except gift certificates and discount cards. A discount card will save you even more–you’ll get both the 10% savings from the sale and the 10% discount from the discount card. (Sale prices apply only to in-store sales, not to mail orders.)
The 42nd Anniversary sale lasts Friday, February 26 through Sunday, March 6. That gives you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.
The finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award (for best sf published as a paperback original in the US) are Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper ($18.00), After the Saucers Landed by Douglas Lain ($15.99), (R)evolution by PJ Manney ($14.95), Apex by Ramez Naam ($14.99), Windswept by Adam Rakunas ($7.99), and Archangel by Marguerite Reed ($16.00).
The Crawford Award for best first fantasy fiction went to The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson ($12.99). The shortlist of finalists included The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley ($26.00, $16.00 tr pb due in April), The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu ($27.99, $9.99 pb due in March), The Devourers by Indra Das (US edition coming in July), The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson ($25.99), and The Daughters by Adrienne Celt.
The Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
The nominees for Best Novel are The Strangler Vine by M. J. Carter ($16.00 tr pb due in March), The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr ($26.95, $16.00 tr pb due in April), Life or Death by Michael Robotham ($15.99), Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy ($26.95), Canary by Duane Swierczynski ($14.99), and Night Life by David C. Taylor ($25.99, $15.99 tr pb due in March).
The nominees for Best First Novel by an American Author are Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton ($9.99 pb due in March), Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy ($16.00), Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll ($15.99 tr pb due in April), The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen ($16.00), and Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm ($16.00).
The nominees for Best Paperback Original are The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney ($14.99), The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay ($15.00), What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan ($15.99), Woman With a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine ($13.95), Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty ($15.95) and The Daughter by Jane Shemilt ($14.99).
Mystery awards are given at the Left Coast Crime Convention. The nominees for the Lefty Award for best humorous mystery are Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews ($25.99), Plantation Shudders by Ellen Byron ($7.99 pb due in August), February Fever by Jess Lourey ($14.95), Dying for a Donut by Cindy Sample ($18.95), and Crushed Velvet by Diane Vallere ($7.99).
The nominees for Best Historical Novel are Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen ($25.95), The Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins ($24.99, $15.99 tr pb due in April), The Chocolate Kiss-Off by Heather Haven, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc by Jennifer Kincheloe, Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King ($26.00 signed hc or $16.00 tr pb), and Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal ($15.00).
The nominees for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel are Bridges Burned by Annette Dashofy, Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron ($27.00, $7.99 pb due in April), The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson, Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny ($27.99), and What You See by Hank Phillipi Ryan ($25.99)
The nominees for the 2015 Agatha Award Best Historical Novel are Malice at the Palace by Rhys Bowen ($25.95), The Masque of a Murderer by Susanna Calkins ($24.99, $15.99 tr pb due in April), Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King ($26.00 signed hc or $16.00 tr pb), Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal ($15.00), and Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson ($25.95, $7.99 pb due in May).
by Don Blyly
Our business in December was about the same as last year, but for some reason January was several thousand dollars below last January. My theory is that people got so spoiled by the unusually mild early winter, that they over-reacted when normal January weather struck.
Looking over what I wrote a year ago, I realize that this winter I haven’t had to deal with any break-ins, leaks from the roof, or medical problems. That’s a big improvement.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that bookstore sales actual rose 2.5% in 2015 after 8 years in a row of decreasing sales. Even with the increase last year, bookstore sales were still down more than 30% compared to 2007. But it’s still good news that print book sales are going back up and e-book sales are going down.
Amazon opened a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle, and recently the Wall Street Journal reported that the head of a major national shopping center firm said that Amazon was planning to open 300 to 400 shopping mall stores in the near future. Amazon had no comment, and the shopping center guy backed off his initial statement, but Amazon has been advertising to hire bookstore employees in the San Diego area. Amazon gets a better discount on books than any of the brick-and-mortar stores, so they could certainly cut prices enough to put a lot more brick-and-mortar stores out of business and seize even more market share. After all, when the other national bookstore chains were expanding rapidly decades ago, they were notorious for opening up very near independent bookstores, cutting prices until the independents went out of business, and then raising their prices. With their superior discount from publishers, it would be easy for Amazon to follow the same sleazy plan with regard to both independent and chain bookstores. If Amazon could kill off another of the national bookstore chains, their market share would give them even more negotiating power with regard to the publishers.
I reported last issue about the city of Minneapolis wanting to ban plastic bags and forcing merchants to charge for paper bags. They are holding more meetings on the issue, but it seems clear that they have ignored all feedback that was negative towards their plan. The city’s newest target seems to be drive-through windows, not only at fast-food places, but also drive-through windows to pick up prescriptions (in case you have a couple of sick kids in the car that you don’t want to haul through the drug store as they cough on everybody else) and for banks. I get the impression that the current city planning people and some of their very vocal supporters either think that Minneapolis is Manhattan or that it should become Manhattan. Many people in Minneapolis don’t agree.
National Independent Bookstore Day is Saturday, April 30. Everyone is encouraged to visit at least one independent bookstore on that day, and buy something as long as you’re there surrounded by the books. Come in on National Independent Bookstore Day, spend $50 or more, and receive a free Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s bookbag (a $10.00 value).
A few days before my 65th birthday, I adopted a dog from the Golden Valley Humane Society. Ecko is almost 4 years old, and was described as a very shy blue heeler mix. One look at her face and it was obvious that the mix was with a pit bull. She is very mellow and loves to spend time at Uncle Hugo’s. But I know that some people have a dog allergy and some people just don’t feel comfortable with dogs, so I don’t let her roam around when customers are in the store. When the store is open, she’s securely fastened near Uncle Hugo’s 40% off book area, where customers who want to visit her can do so (which she encourages people to do), but people who don’t want to visit her won’t be bothered by her (except for an occasional whine as she tries to tempt somebody to come and pet her). Over the last six weeks, most customers haven’t even been aware of her, and most of the people who have noticed her have been happy to visit her. I know that she came from a family with kids, but so far almost everybody who has visited her at the store has been an adult. If you bring in kids to visit her, please don’t let the kids go running up to her by themselves until I have a better idea of how she will react to a perhaps hyper, noisy little one. So far I’ve seen nothing but mellow behavior (except when she sees a squirrel or rabbit), but let’s be careful with kids until I know how she will react.
Closing the store at 7 pm instead of 8 pm Monday through Friday has gone fairly smoothly in most ways, but not in all ways. Last year when we tried out the 7 pm closing for January and February, I was able to edit the Dex Yellow Pages internet listing to change closing to 7 pm at the beginning of January and then edit it back to 8 pm at the beginning of March. But when I tried to edit the hours this January, I found that I couldn’t edit Uncle Hugo’s hours, and that Uncle Edgar’s listing was missing. I complained to Dex, and was given various wrong information about how to solve the problem. I was told that Dex was bought be another company last year, everything was switched to the acquiring company’s computer system, and eventually the Dex employees would be trained how to use the acquiring company’s system. After a few weeks, they managed to correct Uncle Hugo’s hours, but after 6 weeks they still have not put Uncle Edgar’s listing back up (while continuing to list a bunch of bookstores that went out of business 10 to 20 years ago, like Borders on Hennepin Ave., Ruminator books in downtown Minneapolis, and a Brother’s Touch). The last time I complained I was told that somehow when everything was switched to the new computer system last year, the listing for Uncle Edgar’s (and they have no idea how many other customers) got lost, but now they’ve finally figured out the problem and Uncle Edgar’s listing will be back in place in the next couple of weeks. When I asked about a refund for the months that Uncle Edgar’s was not listed on their internet yellow pages, I was told that there would be no refund because the internet listing was free (although the printed yellow pages and the internet yellow pages were sold to me as a package deal).
Since around Labor Day, we have been a UPS Access Point, which was supposed to mean that if the UPS driver couldn’t deliver a package to a home within about a mile of the store, the driver would leave a note on the person’s door that they could pick up the package at Uncle Hugo’s and then the driver would drop off the package at Uncle Hugo’s. People who have a pre-printed UPS label for an outgoing package can also drop the package at Uncle Hugo’s and we then pass the package along to the UPS driver. UPS pays Uncle Hugo’s a very small amount of money for this, but they also stopped charging us a significant amount of money for picking up our outgoing packages. It soon became apparent that a lot of major shippers choose to have their packages delivered directly to Uncle Hugo’s without even attempting to deliver to the home of the customer, which made some customers unhappy with us. But the program also got a lot of local people to stop into the store for the first time, and a few of them bought some books while they were here. When I signed up for the program, they brought out a sample of what the door tag would say, and it showed the name of the store, the address, and the hours. What really happens is the door tag gives the address, sometimes adds “Uncle Hugo’s”, and never gives the hours. At the beginning of January I went to the UPS Access Point site and changed the hours. But as recently as a week ago, somebody called UPS to find out how late we were open and was told we were open until 8 pm.
A few people have been unhappy to have UPS drop their package at Uncle Hugo’s, especially if they were waiting at home for UPS to deliver the package and UPS didn’t attempt to deliver it to their home. But most people have been happy that UPS dropped their package at Uncle Hugo’s instead of just leaving the package in front of their front door or making them arrange transportation to the UPS warehouse during the hours that UPS is open. And many people have been happy to be able to drop UPS returns at Uncle Hugo’s. But we’ve also had to deal with people who grabbed a door tag and came to try to get a package from us while claiming that they don’t own a photo ID, or presented a photo ID showing both the wrong last name and the wrong address. Things have sometimes gotten rather heated with such people, with one threatening to sue Uncle Hugo’s if we didn’t hand over a package address to somebody else, and one person tried to intimidate one of the clerks until she held up the phone and said, “I’m dialing 9-1-1- right now.”
When we closed at 8 pm, I watched very little TV, because by the time I took care of all the end-of-the-day stuff at the store, got home, and made supper, it was almost time for the news, so I’d just read while eating supper and waiting for the news to come on. Now that we are closing at 7 pm, I’m home and supper is made before the beginning of the 8 pm shows, so I’ve been watching more TV (Lucifer, Second Chance, Marvel Agent Carter) and had less time for reading books.