November 22


Archived Newsletter Content


Newsletter #117 March May, 2017

43rd 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 43rd 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 43rd Anniversary Sale lasts Friday, February 24 through Sunday, March 5. That give you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.

The Paper Newsletter

        We started putting the newsletter on our website almost 24 years ago because of the expense of mailing out the paper copies (although at that time we were primarily concerned about the expense of send to overseas customers). We’ve been urging people ever since to use the website if possible, and most people have done so. But the costs of printing and postage just keeps rising. The overwhelming majority of our mail orders now come from people who get the newsletter from the website. The cost of printing and mailing over 5000 copies of the paper newsletter continues to be about $20,000 per year. Out of the 5000 people we mail the newsletter to, there are only a few who mail order on a regular basis. There are about 15 more who don’t order but have tossed some money our way to help cover the cost of printing and mailing the paper newsletter to them.
        We just can’t afford to cover this expense for people who don’t help support the store (especially since only two of the publishers, Simon & Schuster and Hachette, give us a significant amount of co-op advertising money to help support our promotional efforts). We recently had somebody contact us to let us know that the person the newsletter was addressed to had died – 6 years ago. At $5 per year to cover printing and postage, that’s $30 down the drain to send the newsletter to a dead former customer. Don went through the mailing list outside of Minnesota looking for people that no longer seem to be interested in receiving the newsletter and put a * after the last name of such people, based on the fact that it has been 5 years or more since you’ve done business with us or sent a contribution to help cover the cost of mailing the newsletter to you.
        If you receive a paper newsletter and there is a * after your name, that means that Don suspects you aren’t interested in receiving the paper newsletter any more, and you will be dropped from the mailing list unless you do something about it. We’d suggest you do one of these things:
        1) Order something from us, or
        2) Send us some money to cover the expense of mailing you a printed copy, or
        3) Go to our website, click on “Mailing List”, fill in your e-mail address, click “Newsletter Announcements”, and click “Subscribe”. We will then send you an e-mail announcement every time a new issue of the newsletter is posted to the website.
        In fact, we recommend that EVERYBODY who hasn’t already done so should go to our website and sign up for the e-mail Mailing List–and if you don’t have a * after your name, let us know you’ve signed up at the website so that we can drop you from the paper newsletter mailing list. Feel free to also order something from us.
        I’ve mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating. The company that hosts our shopping basket made some changes that we did not authorize and are not happy about. The one that causes the most problems is the request for a password during checkout. You do not need to set up a password. Go slightly farther down the page (about 1 inch on my screen) below the request for a password and click to check out as a guest, and it should work fine.

Award News

        The 2017 Newbury Award for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children went to local author Kelly Barnhill for The Girl Who Drank the Moon ($16.99 signed).

        The finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award (for best sf published as a paperback original is the US) are Consider by Kristy Acevedo ($14.95), Hwarhath Stories: Transgressive Tales by Aliens by Eleanor Arnason ($19.00), The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper ($17.95), Unpronounceable by Susan diRende ($12.00), Graft by Matt Hill ($7.99), and Super Extra Grande by Yoss ($15.99).

        The Crawford Award for best first fantasy fiction work went to All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders ($25.99, $15.99 tr pb due in April).

        The Mystery Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2017 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
        The nominees for Best Novel are The Ex by Alafair Burke ($15.99), Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman ($16.00), Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye ($27.00, $16.00 tr pb mid-March), What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin ($9.99), and Before the Fall by Noah Hawley ($26.00).
        The nominees for Best First Novel by an American Author are Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry ($16.00), Dodgers by Bill Beverly ($15.00), IQ by Joe Ide ($26.00), The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie ($16.00, $8.99 pb early March), Dancing With the Tiger by Lili Wright ($26.00), and The Lost Girls by Heather Young ($25.99, $14.99 trade pb early April).
        The nominees for Best Paperback Original are Shot in Detroit by Patricia Abbott ($15.00), Come Twilight by Tyler Dilts ($15.95), The 7th Canon by Robert Dugoni ($15.95), Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty ($15.95), A Brilliant Death by Robin Yocum ($15.95), and Heart of Stone by James W. Ziskin ($15.95).

        The nominees for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel are Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron ($25.99), Quiet Neighbors by Catriona McPherson ($24.99), A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny ($28.99, $16.99 tr pb and $9.99 mass market pb coming early May), Fogged Inn by Barbara Ross ($7.99), and Say No More by Hank Phillippi Ryan ($25.99)
        The nominees for Best Historical Novel are Whispers Beyond the Veil by Jessica Estevao ($15.00), Get Me to the Grave on Time by D. E. Ireland, Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell ($14.99), The Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson ($26.99), and Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson ($26.00, $7.99 mass market pb early May).
        The nominees for Best First Novel are Terror in Taffeta by Marla Cooper ($25.99), Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon ($15.95), The Semester of Our Discontent by Cynthia Kuhn ($15.95), Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann ($14.99), and Design for Dying by Renee Patrick ($15.99 tr pb due early March).

How’s Business?
by Don Blyly

        Amazon continues to grow more huge, although media sales (books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs, etc.) is growing more slowly than other parts of the company. They are now building an aircraft hub in Kentucky near Cincinnati to service a fleet of 40 freight aircraft (with the help of $40 million in tax incentives from local governments) to haul stuff between their warehouses. But over the busy Christmas and New Year’s period, the hundreds of pilots who work for Amazon went out on strike. Amazon has also recently bought thousands of truck trailers, and is now operating their own ocean freight service between China and the US.
        Last year sales of e-books in the US dropped by 16% compared to the year before, which was below sales for the year before. In fact, e-book sales in the US peaked in 2013 and have been falling ever since. But the sales of print books has been increasing.
        Politics and the book business is getting interesting. After Trump’s Muslim ban, J. K. Rowling had some negative things to say about him. One former Harry Potter fan tweeted to Rowling that The Philospher’s Stone was the first book she had ever read, but she had now burned all of her Harry Potter books. Rowling responded: "Guess it's true what they say: you can lead a girl to books about the rise and fall of an autocrat, but you still can't make her think." Another former fan was going to burn all the Harry Potter books and the DVDs of all the Harry Potter movies. Rowling responded: "Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic and I've still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter."
        Because Trump does not read books, a Facebook group (Leaders Are Readers) recommended flooding the White House with books for Valentine’s Day. Suggested titles included The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and a children’s educational text on the workings of government. A week before Valentine’s Day, The Handmaid’s Tale had hit #1 on Amazon.
        Next year the Superbowl is coming to Minneapolis, and the extreme hype has begun. I’ve heard repeatedly on the local news that there will be 1,000,000 visitors coming to Minneapolis next year during the 10 days of Superbowl activities, and 5,000 of them will be media people. Does anybody really believe that there are enough hotel rooms in the Twin Cities to handle 1,000,000 visitors? In addition to the media people, there will be the teams (players, coaches, equipment handlers, etc.), NFL officials, out-of-town hucksters, out-of-town pick-pockets, out-of-town hookers, etc., plus the fans. For a game in a stadium that holds almost 70,000 seats (at prices in the thousands of dollars per seat). Does this really add up to 1,000,000 visitors? I’ve already had several people asking me to spend big bucks to market Uncle Hugo’s to those 1,000,000 visitors, and I’m sure the offers will increase as the game approaches.
        I read that BBC Studios and Amazon Studios are going to produce a six-part mini-series production of Good Omens ($7.99) by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, with Neil Gaiman in charge of writing the script. It is scheduled to be broadcast on Amazon Prime sometime in 2018, presumably with other distribution after Amazon Prime gets first distribution. I wonder if this news is responsible for the fact that Good Omens has made our mass market bestseller list the last two months, or if a lot of people are simply discovering this delightful book for the first time for other reasons.
        As I was going through the paper newsletter mailing list to put an * after the names of people outside Minnesota who I suspect are no longer interested in receiving the newsletter, I found around 1500 people who have been on the mailing list for at least 10 years but haven’t made a single purchase in the last 10 years. That’s about $75,000 in printing and postage wasted over the last 10 years. The store’s financial situation would be a lot different if not for that wastage. I’ll be looking over the Minnesota portion of the mailing list in preparation for the next issue of the newsletter.
        The Minneapolis City Council is moving towards passing a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, which would pretty much wipe out bookstores in Minneapolis. Most businesses have a chance to adjust to a huge increase in the minimum wage by raising their prices, but bookstores are not able to do this because the books come from the publishers with the price already printed on the cover. Meanwhile, the state legislature is moving towards banning cities from passing minimum wage or other labor-related laws that do not agree with state law. The future of Uncle Hugo’s/Uncle Edgar’s may be determined by the politicians rather than anything the bookstore staff or customers do.

Book Signings

        The Skill of Our Hands ($25.99) by Steven Brust and Skyler White is the sequel to The Incrementalists ($7.99). Steve drove over to the store the day that the book came in and signed all our copies. Steve and Skyler are scheduled to have a formal signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Saturday, March 18, 3-4 pm. If you order a copy of The Skill of Our Hands, please let us know if you want it shipped immediately with just Steve’s signature or if you want to wait until after the signing to get both signatures.
        Penric and the Shaman ($25.00) by Lois McMaster Bujold is the second in the Penric series and fits with the fantasy series that began with The Curse of Chalion. It was originally scheduled for release February 28, but the publisher reports that the printer has frequently been delivering books late. So we scheduled the formal signing at Uncle Hugo’s on Saturday, March 18, 1-2 pm, to give the books extra time to arrive. Whenever the books arrive, Lois will start signing books and we will start shipping books. Normally we can also arrange for Lois to personalize books, but she will be having surgery in late March to deal with a bone spur in her right wrist, and since she is right handed she doesn’t expect to be able to sign or personalize books for at least a month after the surgery. If you want any of her books personalized, you should either order them before the March 18 event or wait until May.
        Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be guests of honor at Marscon the first weekend in March, but will not have time to do a signing at Uncle Hugo’s. We hope to be able to get a batch of their older titles signed while they are in town. Their next Liaden novel is The Gathering Edge ($25.00, due early May). We’ve arranged to get signed copies of The Gathering Edge, and if you order by April 1, you can request a personalized copy.

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