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.
We also used to do a fair amount of business in assorted men’s action adventure series, but they’ve really slowed down and we have so many overstock copies in the basement. We will be giving 50% off the following series:
Able Team (at Edgar’s)
Blade (at Hugo’s)
The Butcher (at Edgar’s)
Death Merchant (at Edgar’s)
Depth Force (at Edgar’s)
Doomsday Warrior (at Hugo’s)
Endworld (at Hugo’s)
The Executioner (at Edgar’s)
Mack Bolan (at Edgar’s)
The Mercenary (at Edgar’s)
Nick Carter (at Edgar’s)
Penetrator (at Edgar’s)
Perry Rhodan (at Hugo’s)
Phoenix Force (at Edgar’s)
Richard Blade (at Hugo’s)
Seventh Carrier (at Hugo’s)
Stony Man (at Edgar’s)
TNT (at Edgar’s)
WWIII (at Hugo’s)
The sale runs Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 9. 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.
The Nebula Award nominees for Best Novel are The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal ($18.99), The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang ($15.99), Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller ($14.99), Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik ($17.00), Witchmark by C. L. Polk ($15.99), and Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse ($17.99).
The Crawford Award for best first fantasy novel went to The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang ($15.99).
The Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original sf in the U.S. went to Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman ($18.00) and a special citation went to 84K by Claire North ($15.99).
The British Science Fiction Association Award for best novel went to Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell ($7.99).
The Hugo Award finalists for Best Novel are The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal ($18.99), Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers ($16.99), Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee ($9.99), Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente ($14.99), Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik ($17.00), and Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse ($17.99).
The finalists for Best Novella are Artificial Condition by Martha Wells ($16.99), Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire ($17.99), Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor ($15.99), The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark ($11.99), Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson ($14.99), and The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard (out of print).
The Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel went to Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley ($15.99), Best First Novel by an American went to Bearskin by James A. McLaughlin ($16.99), and Best Paperback Original to If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin ($16.99).
The Agatha Awards included Best Contemporary Novel to Mardi Gras Murder by Ellen Byron ($26.99), Best Historical Novel to The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey ($15.95), and Best First Novel (in a tie) to A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman ($26.00) and Curses Boiled Again by Shari Randall ($7.99).
by Don Blyly
The assorted reports I’ve been reading suggest that national book sales so far this year are probably down around 8% in units and around 3-4% in dollars (because the price of books have been going up). Some of those reports include college bookstores (where sales of text books are way down due to increased text book rentals and increased use of computer data packs rather than bound books) and Christian bookstores (which have been going out of business at a rapid rate for the last few years) and some of the reports don’t include college bookstores or Christian bookstores. At the Uncles, our sales have been down around 5% so far this year in dollars, and it would take a lot of work to try to figure out how much we are down in units.
Receiving damaged books from the publishers is always a pain, but we’ve recently seen a significant increase in the number of damaged books received in undamaged boxes. This can be caused by 2 things: (1) books that were already damaged before they were put into the box and (2) a really bad job of packing the box. If we receive five copies of a title and one of them is damaged, we’ve become (unfortunately) used to that, But when we receive five copies of a title and every copy is significantly damaged we have to delay filling mail orders, order more copies, and hope that the next shipment is less damaged.
I find that a lot of the dreams that I remember after I wake up revolve around two subjects that used to play a major role in the Uncle’s business. I’m going to talk about why they were important and seem to appear so often in my dreams.
The Bookmen was a local book wholesaler that made being in the book business so much easier than it is now. When Uncle Hugo’s started, it was too small to set up accounts directly with the publishers, so I had to rely on wholesalers. Even after we were able to set up accounts with the publishers, we still did much of our business with The Bookmen. If a new title took off much better than I had expected, it was faster and easier to pick up more copies from the Bookmen than to get up to a minimum order with a publisher, call in an order, and then wait a week or two for the books to arrive. If a publisher let me know that an author was flying into town the next day and wanted to stop by the store to sign his books, I could probably stock up at The Bookmen, while there was no chance that I could get extra copies from the publisher in time.
(Why would a publisher set up a signing tour for an author, buy the plane tickets weeks in advance, set up tv and radio appearances weeks in advance, and then wait until the day before the author reached town to let the bookstores where the author was not having a formal signing know about it? I’ve been asking that question for decades and never received an answer from a publisher. You’d think the publisher would let all the bookstores in the town know weeks in advance that the author was coming to town so that all the bookstores could be well stocked with the author’s books when the publicity hit.)
The Bookmen also saved the day whenever a publisher screwed up shipments (like throwing 25 of the wrong title into the box) or forgetting to ship the order. Or whenever a box would fall apart on the way to the bookstore and half of the books were missing or unsaleable. As a result, I often went to The Bookmen three times per week to restock books, to see if anything had arrived at The Bookmen that I had on order from the publishers but not yet received my shipment, and to just wander around the warehouse looking for interesting titles published by companies that I didn’t have an account with. And I discovered and bought a lot of books because I was able to wander around and look at them.
The Bookmen was the only major book wholesaler in the country that allowed booksellers and librarians to wander through the warehouse and look at the books. They also threw an annual party in December in the warehouse that was open not only to the local bookstore people and librarians but also others involved in the book industry (local authors, people who escorted out-of-town authors on tour, agents, etc.) and their families.
It’s not surprising that I often have dreams that take place at The Bookmen, as much time as I spent there. Often in a dream, a problem would arise affecting the bookstore, and I’d head off to The Bookmen to try to fix the problem. And then I’d wake up, realizing that The Bookmen was no longer around to fix the problem.
The closing of The Bookmen had a much larger impact on the Uncles than I had expected. Because The Bookmen allowed librarians to walk through the warehouse and inspect the books, all of the local library systems allowed each branch to have it’s own budget for buying books to suit the needs and tastes of the regular users of each branch. Many of those librarians used part of their budget to buy books at the Uncles at a special library discount. They told us that the books we recommended to them were much more popular than the science fiction, fantasy, and mystery books purchased for them by the central administration. Because the librarians often came as groups of 2 or 3 at a time, we had to keep good stocks of the titles we recommended most often. If we strongly recommended a title or a series to one of the librarians, chances were that all of the librarians would want a copy for their branch. For many years we averaged between $1000 and $2000 per month in library sales, although the special library discount meant that we didn’t make as much profit as we would if regular customers spent that kind of money. And we moved a lot of great books into the library systems. But after The Bookmen closed, all the central administrations wiped out the budgets for all the branch libraries, doing centralized buying for all the branches. Our library sales dropped to zero, and the volume of books we sold also went down. Over time, we also had to cut back on the number of copies per title that we stocked of our favorite books.
I also often have dreams that take place at science fiction conventions. I started attending science fiction conventions in 1968, when I came up to Minneapolis from Illinois for Minicon 2, and started selling books at conventions shortly after Uncle Hugo’s opened in March, 1974. For decades Uncle Hugo’s sold at conventions around the Midwest and at some world science fiction conventions. In the early years, Uncle Hugo’s would close during Minicon because the books were more likely to sell at the convention than at the store, partly because most of our customers were spending the weekend at the convention. After a few years our customer base increased enough beyond the convention crowd that we kept the store open during Minicon (partly because of all the out-of-towners who wanted to visit the store to go through our used book collection).
Before Amazon became a major factor, many convention attendees viewed conventions as an opportunity to find books not available in the bookstores or drug stores in their home towns, and convention books sales were very good. As Amazon became more important and as national bookstore chains expanded, it became much easier to find a large selection of books without going to a convention, and it became less profitable to haul a minivan full of books across several states to sell at a convention. It got to the point that if there was only one major book dealer at the regional convention, it was profitable. If there were two major book dealers at the convention, both would have a hard time making a profit. If there were more than two major book dealers, none of them would make a profit.
Then Uncle Hugo’s computerized, and everything changed. Before computerization, I’d just take books from the shelves and put them in boxes to take to the convention, and after the convention I’d put the books back on the shelves. To re-order books, we’d walk around the store with publishers’ catalogs, marking down what was on the shelves and then figure out what to order. When we computerized, we spent months building a database of what we wanted to have on the shelves and what we actually had on the shelves, and we’d push a few buttons to generate a re-order. The software had a “book fair” function, where every book that went to a convention had to be scanned into the computer before leaving the store and then scanned through the computer again when it returned to the store, so that the computer would be able to generate re-orders. If the “book fair” function had worked properly, this would have still made selling at conventions a much more time-consuming endeavor, but the “book fair” function did not work properly. We tried for a couple of conventions to enter everything we took to the convention into the “book fair” function, and then printed out a report to check by hand against what we brought back from the convention to make sure that the inventory records did not get too messed up. But eventually the combination of the computer problems and the declining business at conventions led us to stop selling at conventions.
Over the last 50+ years, the local science fiction conventions have been held at a lot of different hotels, many of which no longer exist. But a large number of the conventions were held at the former Radisson South, which has gone through a number of different owners, a number of management companies, and a number of different franchises. The hotel is currently operating under the DoubleTree franchise. Unfortunately, the current management company is very hostile to science fiction conventions, so many of the local science fiction conventions are now held at a different DoubleTree that welcomes the science fiction business. The former Radisson South is now frequently referred to in the local science fiction community as the Radish Tree, to differentiate if from the friendly DoubleTree hotel in St. Louis Park.
For those who are not familiar with the hotel, let me say that it has a lot of function space, a lot of sleeping rooms, a lot of rooms well suited for various sized parties. It is surrounded by a very large surface parking lot (but often not large enough, if a convention or trade show is drawing in lots of local people who are not taking sleeping rooms). There are a large number of places to eat are various price points within convenient walking distance, and there are nearby overflow hotels once all the Radish Tree sleeping rooms are taken. Over the decades I’ve attended dozens of science fiction conventions plus a number of trade shows and other events at the Radish Tree, and have a high opinion of the physical facilities (except when I can’t find parking in that very large lot).
I recently had a dream where I went to a science fiction convention at a hotel like the Radish Tree, but both the hotel and the parking lot were about 10 times the size of the real Radish Tree. This place was so large that it was hosting three different conventions at the same time, each of them with 3,000 to 5,000 attendees. I parked in the lot, walked some distance to one of the multiple entrances, and eventually found my way to the dealers room for the science fiction convention. I went through the entire dealers room and not a single dealer was selling books. I then wandered through the hotel for a while and accidently walked into the dealers room for one of the other conventions. I walked through that room and couldn’t tell the difference between the science fiction dealers room and the other convention’s dealers room. At this point I was pretty disgusted and decided to head for home. I spent the next hour walking through the hotel trying to find the entrance I had come in, knowing that it would be closest to my car. After an hour I decided that any exit would do, and finally found one. Standing inside the hotel in front of the exit door was a short woman in costume with a stroller draped in black cloth so that you couldn’t see what was in the stroller, and she had a pet turkey, also in costume, with a leash attached to the back of the costume. The turkey walked over to me and acted very friendly, so I offered to hold the turkey’s leash while she got the stroller through the door. We all got out of the door, and then a big group of people surged past, sweeping away the short woman and her stroller. I stood there holding the turkey’s leash, looking around for her for a couple of minutes. Then the turkey and I went wandering through the parking lot trying to find my car, while I tried to figure out what to do with the turkey if we ever found my car. The turkey and I were still looking for my car when the alarm went off.
We just had a book signing for the latest book by P. C. Hodgell, By Demons Possessed ($16.00). When we set the date for the signing, it didn’t occur to me or to Pat (who lives in Wisconsin and thus has a very good excuse) that the signing was scheduled on the Minnesota fishing opener, when an estimated 500,000 people drop everything to run away to a lake to try to catch a fish. Because of the conflict, the signing was not exactly crowded, and we have plenty of copies of all the titles in this excellent fantasy series available. Pat says she isn’t sure yet if she can finish off the series with one more book or if it will take two more books.
In early June we expect to be receiving a large shipment of signed copies of Liaden Universe Constellation Volume 4 (short stories set in the Liaden universe) that Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will sign in Maine (and personalize for those who requested it) before forwarding the books on to us. If you haven’t already requested a personalized copy, it’s too late for you. But you can still request a signed copy.
In early August we will be receiving The Flowers of Vashnoi by Lois McMaster Bujold ($25.00), a novella in the Vorkosigan series that follows Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance and features Ekaterin Vorkosigan as the main character. Lois will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Saturday, August 10, 1-2 pm. But as soon as we receive the shipment I’ll haul about half of them out to Lois’ place so that she can sign them and deal with any personalization requests we’ve received by that time.
Also in early August we will be receiving Witchy Kingdom by D. J. Butler ($25.00), the third of the Sarah Calhoun series of alternate history fantasies. We have plenty of signed copies of the earlier books in mass market paperback, Witchy Eye ($7.99) and Witchy Winter ($7.99). We also have copies of his unrelated series of young adult books (written as Dave Butler). Dave will be signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Wednesday, September 25, 5-6 pm, as well as perhaps doing a reading or playing music based on the Witchy series.
Uncle Edgar’s is Hiring
Elizabeth has decided that working full time elsewhere plus all the work she has been doing at Uncle Edgar’s is just too much. We are looking for a part-time person with the following skills:
1) Able to discuss mystery books with customers and make appropriate recommendations;
2) Able to lift boxes of books (for example flats of used mass market paperbacks);
3) Able to alphabetize accurately;
4) Basic computer skills:
5) Able to deal with phone calls from people asking for information about books, placing mail orders, etc.
At this point, we are looking for somebody to work Saturdays starting in late June, but more hours could be available if another employee wants some time off. Compensation include an employee discount on books. Send a resume to Don at UncleHugo@aol.com