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Newsletter #81 March - May, 2008

34th 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 34th anniversary, we're having a big sale. Come into either Uncle Hugo's or Uncle Edgar's and get an extra 10% off everything except gift certificates. A discount card will save you even more-you'll get both the 10% savings from the sale and the 10% savings from the discount card. (Sale prices apply to in-store purchases, but not to mail orders.)
        The 34th Anniversary Sale lasts Friday, February 29 (Happy Leap Year!) through Sunday, March 9 (Happy Daylight Savings Begins!). This gives you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.

Award News

        The Preliminary Nebula Award Ballet for Novels consists of Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell ($24.95), The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon ($26.95, $15.95 trade pb in early May), Regeneration by Julie E. Czernada ($7.99), Vellum by Hal Duncan ($14.95), The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman ($23.95), The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson ($23.99), Mainspring by Jay Lake ($24.95), Odyssey by Jack McDevitt ($7.99), The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald ($7.99), Strange Robby by Selina Rosen, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling ($34.99), Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer ($6.99), and Blindsight by Peter Watts ($25.95, $14.95 trade paperback in early March).

        The Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2008 Edgar Awards. The nominees for Best Novel are Christine Falls by Benjamin Black ($14.00), Priest by Ken Bruen ($13.95), The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon ($26.95, $15.95 trade paperback due early May), Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman ($14.95), and Down River by John Hart ($24.95, some signed copies still available).
        The nominees for Best First Novel by an American are Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell ($24.95), In the Woods by Tana French ($24.95), Snitch Jacket by Christopher Goffard ($24.95), Head Games by Craig McDonald ($14.95), and Pyres by Derek Nikitas ($24.95).
        The nominees for Best Paperback Original are Queenpin by Megan Abbott ($13.00), Blood of Paradise by David Corbett ($9.95), Cruel Poetry by Vicki Hendricks ($14.95), Robbie's Wife by Russell Hill ($6.99), and Who is Conrad Hirst? By Kevin Wignall ($14.00).

        The nominees for the North American Hammett Prize are The Outlander by Gil Adamson ($26.95 U.S. edition due early May), The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon ($26.95, $15.95 trade paperback due early May), End Games: An Aurelio Zen Mystery by Michael Dibdin ($23.95), Dahlia's Gone by Katie Estill ($23.95), and Stalin's Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith ($26.95).

        The nominees for the Dilys Award, the book chosen by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as the one they most enjoy selling, are Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen ($23.95), Thunder Bay by William Kent Krueger ($24.00, some signed copies available), The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz ($25.00, $14.00 trade paperback due by the end of February), Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn ($6.99), and The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey ($6.99).

        The nominees for The Lefty Award for most humorous mystery published last year are The Penguin Who Knew Too Much by Donna Andrews ($23.95), Stuff to Die For by Don Bruns ($24.95), Some Like It Hot Buttered by Jeff Cohen ($6.99), Knee High by the Fourth of July by Jess Lourey ($13.95), and Murder With Reservations by Elaine Viets ($21.95, $6.99 paperback early May).

        The nominees for The Rocky Award (takes place in the western U.S.) are Free Fire by C. J. Box ($24.95, $7.99 paperback early May), Lost Dog by Bill Cameron ($13.95), The Girl With Braided Hair by Margaret Coel ($24.95), Stealing the Dragon by Tim Maleeny ($14.95, signed copies available), and False Fortune by Twist Phelan ($24.95).

How's Business?

        Last year some months were up a little and some were down a little, but for the first 11 months we were pretty close to last year's (disappointing) sales total. Then we really got hammered in December. The first major snow storm (though not as major as forecast, with warnings of "Don't even think about leaving home today unless you absolutely have to!") was on December 1, the first Saturday of Uncle Edgar's anniversary sale, and business was down 70% from the corresponding day the year before. A fresh snow storm seemed to come along every second or third day for the rest of December, and it stayed difficult to get around for the entire month. Sales of books were WAY down for December, but sales of gift certificates were up substantially. We hoped that people would come pouring into the Uncles in January to turn in the gift certificates and perhaps also leave some cash behind. But a good chunk of January was below zero. Whenever the temperature would get near normal, people did pour in to buy books, but then we'd go back into the deep freeze and business would slow down again. January was down a bit, but much less drastically than December. The first half of February has actually been pretty good, almost enough to make up for January.
        As we get ready to celebrate Uncle Hugo's 34th anniversary, we try not to worry too much about the local 34th year curse on bookstores. A few years ago Hungry Mind/Ruminator Books in St. Paul went out of business after 34 years, and last year Orr's Books went out of business after 34 years. But Amazon Bookstore is now 37 years old, so the curse is not universal. However, just before the newsletter went to the printer, we heard that Amazon Bookstore is now for sale, in an attempt to save it. Is it good news that they made it through 37 years and might find a buyer to take them into the future, or bad news that another local independent bookstore is on the ropes?
        Borders closed another of their local stores, the Block E store in downtown Minneapolis. The former porno buyer for the Shinders chain and a new partner have re-opened 2 of the 13 Shinders locations that went out of business last August, using the name Beyond Shinders. Hard to say if this is good news or bad news. But it certainly looks like we have another "interesting" year ahead of us.
        When you receive your anti-recession check from the IRS, after you fill your tank with higher-than-expected gasoline, pay your higher-than-expected heating bill, pay your higher-than-expected property tax bill, think about spending some anti-recession money at the Uncles, if you have anything left, so that we can pay our higher-than-expected heating bill and property tax bill.
        Local business groups have been trying to work out ways to get some benefit for local merchants from the Republican National Convention coming to St. Paul around Labor Day. Every hotel room within 30 miles of St. Paul is expected to be booked from about a week before Labor Day to a week after Labor Day. But the word is that the RNC is planning to program so tightly that the official delegates won't have time to see anything except what the RNC wants them to see. But don't worry, local businesses, there will be plenty of out-of-town prostitutes, pick-pockets, scam artists, protesters, and media people flooding into town, and some of them might visit your stores, if they can reach you through the closed streets, clogged freeways, etc. It's been reported that all businesses within a couple of blocks of the site of the RNC will be forced to stay closed during the entire convention, with no compensation. If you're thinking of moving this summer, we recommend that you avoid late August/early September. Even if you can find a rental truck that hasn't already been rented for RNC-related functions, you probably won't be able to get through the streets anyway, especially in St. Paul.
        The bike racks we were promised for Fall, 2005 as part of the bridge/street/sidewalk reconstruction still have not been installed.



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