December 1 marks Uncle Edgar’s 35th anniversary. Come into Uncle Edgar’s or Uncle Hugo’s and save 10% off everything except discount cards, gift certificates, or merchandise already marked 40% off. A discount card will save you even more–you’ll get 10% off from the discount card plus another 10% off from the sale. (Sale prices apply only to in-store purchases, not to mail orders.) The sale runs Friday, November 27 through Sunday, December 6, giving you two weekends to save. Small Business Saturday, which is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, also happens to be during the anniversary sale. On Small Business Saturday, we will be giving away an Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s bookbag (a $10 value) for free to anybody who makes a $100 purchase. For one day only, you can get 10% off with a discount card plus 10% off for the anniversary sale plus a free bookbag for a $100 purchase.
We will also be having our annual inventory reduction sale December 26-31, but that will feature deep discounts on things we really want to get rid of. It will not be a store-wide sale like the 35th Anniversary Sale.
New Hours for 2016
We’ve been closing at 8 pm Monday through Friday for decades. During those decades, we saw little business in the winter during the last hour, but did significant business during the last hour during Daylight Savings months. Last winter as an experiment we closed at 7 pm for January and February, and as we expected it didn’t impact business significantly. In March we went back to our traditional 8 pm closing and watched our sales during that last hour. Over the next 8 months, we only had 2 nights when our sales during the last hour covered our expenses. So, we will continue our traditional hours through the end of 2015, but will permanently start closing at 7 pm during the week at the beginning of 2016.
The Hugo Award for Best Novel went to The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu ($25.99, $15.99 trade pb due mid-January).
The David Gemmell Award winners included Best Fantasy Novel to Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson ($9.99) and Best Fantasy Newcomer to The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley ($16.99).
Many mystery awards were announced at Bouchercon:
The Anthony Awards included Best Novel to After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman ($14.99), Best First Novel to The Black Hour by Lori Rader-Day ($15.95), Best Paperback Original to The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson ($14.99), Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work to Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan ($15.95), and Best Anthology or Collection to In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger ($24.95, $15.95 trade paperback due in December).
The Barry Awards included Best Novel to Natchez Burning by Greg Iles ($27.99 signed first printing or $9.99 pb), Best First Novel to Invisible City by Julie Dahl ($15.99), Best Paperback Original to The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens ($15.95), and Best Thriller to Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta ($16.00)
The Shamus Awards included Best Hardcover P.I. Novel to Hounded by David Rosenfelt ($15.99) and Best First P..I. Novel to Invisible City by Julia Dahl ($15.99).
The Macavity Awards included Best Mystery Novel to The Killer Next Door by Alex Marwood ($16.00), Best First Mystery Novel to Invisible City by Julie Dahl ($15.99), Best Mystery-Related Nonfiction to Writes of Passage: Adventures on the Writer’s Journey edited by Hank Phillippi Ryan ($15.95), and Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award to A Deadly Measure of Brimstone by Catriona McPherson ($26.99).
The British Crime Writers’ Association announced their Dagger Awards, including Gold Dagger for best crime novel to Life or Death by Michael Robotham ($26.00, $15.99 trade pb due early February), Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for best thriller to Cop Town by Karin Slaughter ($9.99), John Creasey New Blood Dagger for best first crime novel to Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson ($15.99), International Dagger for best crime novel translated into English to Camille by Pierre Lemaitre ($26.99, $14.99 trade pb due early December), and Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement to Catherine Aird.
Holiday Gift Ideas
Our 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 in the store to avoid the risk of the gift certificate being lost.
Calendars used to be a very popular gift item, but so many people are now using assorted electrical devices in place of a wall calendar that we substantially reduced our selection of calendars this year. Several of the calendars we did order have not arrived. We also have lots of signed books, art books, and humor books, including some that can be given to people who don’t read sf or mysteries.
by Don Blyly
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to keep up with some proposals that the Minneapolis City Council are considering that would impact businesses. My impression is that the proposals were drafted by special interest groups who wanted to accomplish “good” things, who then found a council member or two who were willing to support the proposals. But I thought the proposals were poorly drafted, did not show an understanding of how businesses operate and did not consider unintended consequences.
First, there is a proposal to prevent any Minneapolis businesses from giving out any plastic bags with handles and to force Minneapolis businesses to charge a nickle each for paper bags. This is intended to try to force all customers, whether residents of Minneapolis or not, to switch over to reusable bags when shopping in Minneapolis. I went to a public meeting and also submitted written testimony on this proposal. Imagine going to the grocery store and the person ahead of you in line has a big shopping basket full of food. Under this proposal, the clerk could not start ringing up your purchase until the customer ahead of you had finished packing all of their food so that the clerk would know how many bags to charge for. Now imagine that you are at the back of a long line of people with full grocery carts, and have to endure a wait 2 or 3 times as long because of the new “charge for paper bags” law–how many times would you endure this before you started shopping outside Minneapolis? I also pointed out that because we are so close to the hospital, we have a lot of customers come in on crutches or with canes, and they need a bag with handles to take away the books they purchased. I’m not sure how this proposal is progressing, but I know a lot business people testified that it was badly drafted and would cause a lot of problems as currently proposed.
Another proposal would have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, required businesses to provide sick time, and required businesses to lock in employee schedules 28 days in advance, with extra costs to the employer if the schedule had to be adjusted within that 28 day period. I filled out an on-line survey on this, but otherwise wasn’t involved. Most business people seemed to be willing to go along with a sick time plan, but thought the wording on the proposal needed to be adjusted. Both employers and a lot of part-time workers had problems with the rigid 28 day in advance scheduling. A lot of part-time employees, college students and others, said that they valued the flexibility of their current part-time jobs, and feared that employers would be forced to become much less flexible under the wording of the proposal. The increase of the minimum wage to $15 is no longer under consideration, and there will be a group (to include employees, union representatives, and employers large and small) to study the rest of the proposal and make recommendations.
The minimum wage should have been indexed to inflation decades ago, but it wasn’t. As a result, people working at minimum wage are far worse off than they were 30 years ago. Both the federal government and most state governments have started correcting the problem in a gradual progression of increases. But there are some people who want to do much larger increases much faster, and they claim that it will be painless because the increases will all come out of the pockets of the rich folk who own all the businesses. I’d love to be able to pay myself minimum wage for the 70 hours a week I put into my business, and I know there are a lot of other small business owners in the same position. And I haven’t noticed many rich folks being eager to reduce their profits by giving big raises to their lower paid employees. Big raises would be paid for by big increases in prices. But that is more of a problem for bookstores than for other businesses. The books come in with the prices already printed on them.
From about 2008 through 2014, prices on books were pretty stagnant. (I read a week ago that name brand prescription drugs went up in price 138% during the same period.) Mass market paperbacks were stuck at $7.99 (except for a few best-selling authors’ books which were put into the “Premium” size at a price of $9.99), most trade paperbacks were around $15.00, and most hardcover adult novels were around $25.00. Then, about a year ago the voters in San Francisco voted in a $15 minimum wage and Borderlands Books announced that they were going to be forced out of business by the steep wage increase, and the publishers started to take notice. (Many people donated many thousands of dollars to keep Borderlands open.) Many other cities considered or passed $15 minimum wage laws, and the governor of New York wants to go to $15 quickly for New York City and more slowly for the rest of the state. And publishers are now putting higher prices on books. We are seeing a lot more regular size mass market paperbacks at $8.99 and $9.99, trade paperbacks are $1, or $2, or $3 more than they would have been a year ago, hardcover adult novels are $2 or $3 more than they would have been a year ago, and a lot of novels that would have come out as mass market paperbacks a few years ago are instead coming out as trade paperbacks at double the price they would have been as mass market paperbacks. And I expect the prices of new books to continue to go up. If they don’t continue to increase, most of the bookstores, both chain and independent, won’t be able to afford to operate in a few years. And the more wide-spread the $15 minimum wage becomes, the faster the publishers will have to increase prices in order to preserve the bookstore distribution channel.