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Newsletter #88 December, 2009 February, 2010

29th Anniversary Sale

        December 1 marks Uncle Edgar’s 29th anniversary. Come into Uncle Edgar’s or Uncle Hugo’s and save 10% off everything except discount cards, gift certificates or merchandise that is already marked 40% off. (All jigsaw puzzles and most of the games are already 40% off.) A discount card will save you even more–you’ll get both 10% savings from the discount card and 10% off from the sale. (Sale prices apply to in-store purchases, but not to mail orders.) The 29th Anniversary Sale runs Friday, November 27 through Sunday, December 6–giving you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.
        We will also be having our annual inventory reduction sale December 26-31, but that will feature deep discounts on things we really, really want to get rid of. It will not be a store-wide sale like the 29th Anniversary Sale.

Award News

        Many mystery awards were announced at Bouchercon:
        The Anthony Awards included Best Novel to The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly ($9.99), Best First Novel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson ($14.95 trade pb or $7.99 mass market pb), Best Paperback Original to State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy ($7.99), and Best Children’s/Young Adult to The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein ($6.99).
        The Shamus Awards included Best Hardcover to Empty Ever After by Reed Farrel Coleman ($24.95 signed hc or $14.95 signed trade pb), Best First P.I. Novel to In the Heat by Ian Vasquez ($24.95), and Best Paperback Original to Snow Blind by Lori Armstrong ($7.95).
        The Macavity Awards included Best Mystery Novel to Where Memories Lie by Deborah Crombie ($24.95 signed hc or $7.99 pb), Best First Mystery to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson ($14.95 trade pb or $7.99 mass market pb), and Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery to A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen ($7.99).
        The Barry Awards included Best Novel to Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason ($14.00), Best First Novel to Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith ($7.99), Best Thriller to The Deceived by Brett Battles ($7.99), Best British Novel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson ($14.95 trade pb or $7.99 mass market pb), and Best Paperback Original to State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy (($7.99).

How’s Business?
By Don Blyly

        This is certainly an interesting time to be in the book business.
        Recently Walmart.com, Amazon.com, and Target.com got into a price war over pre-orders for 10 bestselling hardcovers, with all 3 companies selling the titles way below their cost. Thus, whoever “won” the price war was the one who lost the most money. When a number of independent bookstores started to talk about cancelling their orders with the publishers for the price war titles and buying them instead from the big guys, the big guys put limits on how many copies per title they would sell to each customer. We might have lost the sale of a book or two because of the price war, but I’m hoping the big guys lost millions of dollars each. Apparently the big guys were so happy with the results of the hardcover price war that they are now doing the same thing with DVDs.
        E-books are in the news, with Amazon selling the Kindle, and then selling e-books for the Kindle below cost, so Barnes & Noble has brought out the Nook to compete with the Kindle, and they are also selling e-books below cost to compete with Amazon’s price. There was a recent survey in England that showed that 4% of the British people had read an e-book in the past month, but 70% of those people had gotten their e-book without paying for it. I also read that within a week after The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown was released, there were 28 places on the internet where you could download a free pirated e-book of it. Does this remind anybody of the record industry?
        Barnes & Noble has announced that all surviving B. Dalton Bookstores (once the largest bookstore chain in the U.S., before they were sold to Barnes & Noble) will be out of business by the end of January, and Borders has announced that they will be closing 200 Waldenbooks, Borders Express, and Borders Outlet stores in January.
        The overwhelming majority of books we buy from publishers are theoretically returnable, but in practice some publishers are much easier to deal with than others. Penguin (which includes Ace, Berkley, Jove, DAW, NAL, Roc, and many other imprints) used to be one of the easiest to deal with, so we tended to leave their books on the shelves longer before doing returns. But things have really changed. A few months ago I was working on a return and called customer service to check on a few older titles that I thought might be too old to return. Customer service refused to help me, telling me that I would have to dig out that information on my own from their website. What I eventually managed to find on their website was a listing of books “recently” declared out of print, and the deadlines for returning them for credit. An amazing number of the books that I had to return within the next few weeks to receive credit were many mass market paperbacks that had only be published 12-18 month before, so we returned lots of books that we normally would have kept on the shelf for another year or two. I complained to the sales representative about this new policy at the Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Show and asked him if his company wanted me to just start returning all books to his company after 12 months. He thought about the situation for a bit and then said, “I think you’re going to have to start returning books from mid-list authors within a year to protect yourself from our new return policy.” We like to have all the books in a series whenever possible, so that when somebody discovers the fourth book of a series at a chain store, they can come to us for the 3 earlier books in the series that the chains don’t bother to carry. This new policy will harm us, the readers, the authors, and the publisher. But there are many other things that various publishers are doing to try to cope with the current recession that will be harmful in the long run.
        Here at the Uncles, business is still up most months compared to the same month the year before, but business is not up anywhere near as much as property taxes are up, so things continue to be pretty tight. Your business is appreciated.

Holiday Gift Ideas

        Our single most popular gift option continues to be our gift certificate. We can issue one for any amount. It can be used at either or both Uncles. It can even be used for mail orders, and it can be purchased over the phone (if you have a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover Card) and we can mail it either to the purchaser or to the recipient, or we can just enter the balance on a credit file here at the store, so there’s no risk of the gift certificate being lost.
        Calendars are another popular gift item. We ordered about the same number of titles as usual, but a lot fewer titles arrived this year. (Almost all calendars for the U.S. are printed in the Far East, with the order-taking beginning in February, and the final decision on which title to actually produce and how many copies per title being made in the Spring, so that the finished products can come on “a slow boat from China” for distribution late summer. The calendar companies were obviously much more cautious with their print-runs this year.)
         The standard wall calendars include Art of Dreams ($13.99, art of Daniel Merriam), Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell’s Fantasy ($11.99), Brian Froud’s World of Faerie ($13.99), Dragon ($13.95, art by Ed Beard, Jr.), Dragons ($13.99, art by Ciruelo), Dragons ($13.99, from Graphique de France), Edward Gorey’s The Doubtful Guest ($13.99), Fantasy Art of Clyde Caldwell ($13.95), Fantasy Hero ($13.99, Frank Frazetta), Flights of Fantasy ($13.99, art by James C. Christensen), Magical Realism ($13.99, art by Michael Parkes), Master of Illusion ($13.99, art by Rob Gonsalves), Mystic Visions ($13.99, art by John Jude Palencar), Myth & Magic ($13.95, art by Janny Wurts), Pirates! ($13.95, art by Don Maitz), R. Crumb Featuring Mr. Natural ($13.95), The Simpsons ($13.99), Star Trek ($13.99), Star Trek Ships of the Line ($13.99), StarCraft ($13.99), Surrealscapes ($13.99, art by Roger Dean), Tolkien ($14.95, art by Ted Nasmith), When Darkness Falls ($13.95, art by Tony Mauro), Women of Enchantment ($13.99, art by Kiunko Y. Craft), and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King ($14.99). The only page-per-day type calendar that arrived was Dragons ($13.99, art by Ciruelo), and the only engagement calendar that arrived was Nancy Drew ($13.99, a classic Nancy Drew cover for each week). We were cautious about how many copies per title we ordered, because we expected to receive twice as many titles, and we’ve already sold out of a couple of titles.
        Another very popular gift idea is signed books. We don’t have space in this newsletter list all the signed titles, so go to our website and click Browse Our Books, then click Signed Books to see our complete list, updated daily. Some recent books signed at Uncle Hugo’s are The Gathering Storm: Book 12 of The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson ($27.99, printed with a facsimile signature by Jordan, signed in person at the store by Sanderson) and Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson ($27.95), and books that arrived already signed include Terry Brooks’ A Princess of Landover ($26.00), Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson’s The Winds of Dune ($27.99) and Anne Rice’s Angel Time ($25.95). Books recently signed in Uncle Edgar’s include Tragic Magic by Laura Childs ($24.95) and Blackwork by Monica Ferris ($24.95), and books that arrived already signed include 9 Dragons by Michael Connelly ($27.99), Blood’s A Rover by James Elroy ($28.95), Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason ($24.99), and The Long Fall by Walter Mosley ($25.95).



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