April 28
National Independent Bookstore Day

May 28


News / Editorials


44th Anniversary Sale

        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 44th 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 only apply to in-store sales, not to mail orders.)
        The 44th Anniversary Sale lasts Friday, March 2 through Sunday, March 11. That give you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.

New T-shirts & Sweatshirts

        We are pretty low on Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s T-shirts, but it doesn’t make sense to invest in new T-shirts in the middle of the winter. We will be ordering a new printing of T-shirts and sweatshirts around the end of March. We normally order T-shirts in sizes adult small through XXL and sweatshirts in sizes adult large through XXL, but we can order smaller or larger sizes if we know that you want them before we place the large order. The last time we ordered them, two years ago, the prices had not changed from two years before that, and we don’t expect the price to have gone up much since then. The current prices are $14 for T-shirts in sizes up through XL and $17 for XXL; for sweatshirts the current prices are $27 for sizes up through XL and $30 for XXL. Add on a few more dollars if you want to order an XXXL, and even more for XXXXL.
        The shirts either have Uncle Hugo’s on the front and Uncle Edgar’s on the back, or Uncle Edgar’s on the front and Uncle Hugo’s on the back. For sweat shirts we usually go with ash (light grey), Kelly green, purple, red, and royal blue. We usually do about 10 different colors for the T-shirts (the same colors as for the sweatshirts, plus black, gold, and a few other colors). The T-shirt manufacturers take some colors out of production and introduce some new colors each year, and we aren’t sure yet which additional colors will be available this year.
        If you are interested in placing a special order, let us know before the end of March what size you want, which logo you prefer on the front, whether you want a T-shirt or sweatshirt, and your preference for color. An e-mail would probably be best so that we know how to contact you when we find out what the cost will be and to contact you again when the shipment comes in.

Award News

        The finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award (for best sf published as a paperback original in the US) are The Book of Etta by Meg Elison ($14.95), Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty ($15.99), After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun ($16.99), The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt ($7.99), Revenger by Alastair Reynolds ($15.99). Bannerless by Carrie Vaugn ($14.99), and All Systems Red by Martha Wells ($14.99).

        Neal Stephenson received the 2018 Robert A. Heinlein Award for his body of work, both fiction and non-fiction.

        The Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees of the 2018 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
        The nominees for Best Novel are The Dime by Kathleen Kent ($26.00), Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr ($27.00, $16.00 trade pb due mid-March), Blue Bird, Blue Bird by Attica Locke ($26.00), A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee ($25.95, $15.95 trade pb due mid-April), and The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti ($17.00).
        The nominees for Best First Novel by an American Author are She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper ($26.99, $16.99 trade pb due mid-March), Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li ($26.00, $16.00 trade pb due mid-April), Lola by Milissa Scrivner Love ($16.00), Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy ($24.99. $15.99 trade pb due mid-May), and Idaho by Emily Ruskovich ($17.00).
        The nominees for Best Paperback Original are In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen ($14.95), Ragged Lake by Ron Corbett ($14.95), Black Fall by Andrew Mayne ($15.99), The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola ($15.99), Penance by Kanae Minato ($15.99), and The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong ($15.95).
        The nominees for the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award are The Vineyard Victims by Ellen Crosby ($25.99), You’ll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron ($26.99, $15.99 trade pb due early April), The Widow’s House by Nadine Nettmann ($14.99), and The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day ($14.99).

        The nominees for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel are Death Overdue: A Haunted Library Mystery by Allison Brook ($26.99), A Cajun Christmas Killing: A Cajun Country Mystery by Ellen Byron ($26.99), No Way Home by Annette Dashofy ($15.95), Take Out by Margaret Maron ($27.00, $7.99 pb due early April), and Glass Houses by Louise Penny ($28.99, $16.99 tr pb and $9.99 pb due early May).
        The nominees for Best Historical Novel are In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen ($14.95), Murder in an English Village by Jessica Ellicott ($25.00), Called to Justice by Edith Maxwell ($14.99), The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal ($26.00, $16.00 tr pb due mid-April), and Dangerous to Know by Renee Patrick ($16.99).
        The nominees for Best First Novel are Adrift by Micki Browning, The Plot is Murder by V. M. Burns ($15.00), Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett ($14.99), Daughters of Bad Men by Laura Oles ($13.99), and Protocol by Kathleen Valenti ($15.95).

How’s Business
by Don Blyly

        Nationally, bookstore sales went down 6.4% in November over the year before (when sales were very poor because of the election), while all of retail went up by 6.6%. For the first 11 months of 2017, bookstore sales went down 3.1% while all of retail went up 4.2%. Nationally, bookstores sales were down 8.2% in December. (“Bookstores” includes college stores, religious book stores, independent bookstores, chain bookstores, any stores where over 50% of the merchandise is books and periodicals. “Sales” include total sales, for both books and other items carried by the stores.) Barnes & Noble announced that their holiday sales went down by 6.4%. Barnes and Noble said that the biggest decline was in their non-book categories, but their book sales were down 4.5% compared to the year before. At the Uncles, December sales were up quite a bit, and I’ve heard the same is true of many other independent bookstores.
        Nationally, January book sales were up because of enormous sales of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, but the story was different at the Uncles. Between all of the unusually low temperatures and the heavy snow, we were down about as much in January as we were up in December. Fortunately, we still had some of the December money in the bank to pay the January bills.
        Then Super Bowl week struck. We didn’t expect that many people who would be coming to town for the Super Bowl would be interested in books, but we didn’t foresee a huge drop in business from our regular customers. We heard of people who work in downtown Minneapolis and have long-term parking contracts who were told that they could not park in their parking spots for the entire week before the Super Bowl because the city had promised the NFL that those spots would be available for the tourists. A lot of the streets in downtown were closed down for the entire week before the Super Bowl, some for security reasons near the stadium, but many more to make room for assorted Super Bowl stuff around Nicollet Mall. Downtown was such a mess that many businesses told most of their workers to not come downtown for the entire week. Many of the small restaurants in downtown that serve the office workers saw their business plummet, while the expensive restaurants and the bars in downtown did very well from the Super Bowl crowd. The Mall of America apparently also did very well, with both teams staying there and sports radio stations from all over the country setting up stations there.
        Many of our customers who normally stop by the store on the way home from work, didn’t do so because of all the downtown disruption. I’ve heard that many other business outside of downtown also saw their sales go down during the Super Bowl period. As far as we can tell, we didn’t sell a single book to the Super Bowl crowd.
        But some businesses did very well. I saw a TV report that all of the hotels near the airport were charging $600 per night or more during the week before the Super Bowl, and the downtown hotels were charging a lot more than that. I saw another report on the series of run-down older motels along University Ave., where the normal $90 per night charge went up to $500 to $900 per night, and the TV crew showed how shoddy the rooms were, with cigarette ashes left behind in no-smoking rooms, garbage left behind under little refrigerators in the rooms, and it didn’t look like a maid had cleaned under the beds in the past year.
        The advance claims for the number of visitors for the Super Bowl ranged from 100,000 to over a million. I found out how the NFL came up with a million out-of-town visitors. Let’s say you live in Minneapolis, and you bought a ticket for the zip-line across the Mississippi River (the tickets for which sold out in hours, long before any of the Super Bowl people had shown up), you bought a ticket to the Super Bowl exhibit at the convention center, and you went to a couple of the music events–congratulations, the NFL counts you as 4 out-of-town visitors brought to town for the Super Bowl. They counted the number of people that showed up at every Super Bowl related event, and then added up all those attendance figures from events that stretched over more than a week, and then claimed that this showed that over a million out-of-town tourists had shown up for the Super Bowl.
        Some local people came up with the idea of making it easy for people leaving town after the game to donate their parkas (bought by lots of visitors once they got to town and figured out how cold it was) on the way out of town back to warmer climates, and a bunch of hotels and a couple of private airports supported the effort, but the main airport refused to cooperate. Still, a lot of very good, new parkas were donated to local homeless shelters, and a lot of food from Super Bowl events was also donated to homeless shelters.
        We’ve been with the same bank since 1977. Starting around the first of the year, I started noticing strange things happening at the bank. When I took in a deposit, one teller always insisted on running the bills through a counting machine, even if there were only 4 bills in the deposit. I thought that perhaps the equipment had been upgraded to catch counterfeit money. (One of the fast food places I visit frequently had installed a new small machine that they passed all bills through. And then we had a counterfeit $20 passed at Uncle Hugo’s, only the second time this has happened in 44 years. After we were tipped off that the guy who had just given us the $20 for a candy bar had been thrown out of another nearby store a few minutes earlier for trying to pass a counterfeit $50, it took us a while to find anything visibly wrong with the $20. The Federal Reserve emblem on the left side of the real $20s was very sharp and very black, while the emblem on the counterfeit $20 was very blurred and was dark blue. Everything else on the counterfeit bill looked perfect.) Then the bank started insisting that I had to provide identification before they would allow me to make a deposit to the company account. Then one day I took in a deposit, provided identification, and after the deposit was done I asked to swap a $50 bill for 50 $1 bills. I once again had to pull out my driver’s license so that the clerk could enter the information into the computer again, and he told me to expect this to happen every time I did a “cash transaction” at the bank. I mentioned this to one of the employees at the Uncles who has a personal account at the same bank, and he said he hadn’t noticed anything like that. A week later, he told me that he went into the bank to make a modest cash deposit to his account, and he had to provide identification and tell the clerk what he did for a living before they would accept the cash deposit. I guess Big Brother is watching a lot harder than he used to. And I wonder if this is coming from IRS or ICE. As much as I dislike this new way of banking, I’m sure than most of the immigrant-run businesses in south Minneapolis are even more concerned about it.

This document last modified February 21, 2018

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