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Newsletter #74 June - August, 2006

Neighborhood Update
by Don Blyly

        Allina has already moved about 1600 people into the former Sears building (now Midtown Exchange), most of the condos have sold, and a lot of the apartments have been rented. The Global Marketplace is only about 60% rented, but is supposed to open on May 15, giving everybody in the area a much- anticipated increase in the number of options for eating. The Hennepin County service center is trying to get open by the Grand Opening.
        The Grand Opening for the Midtown Exchange will be Saturday, June 3, with politicians, stilt-walkers from Heart of the Beast Theater, etc., starting around 10:00 am, and the actual opening of the building to the public at 11:30 am. There will be hourly guided tours of the building giving a historical perspective on the building and the renovation. There will be indoor and outdoor live music, and food vendors in the Global Marketplace will have special size samples of their food available for $1.00. They are expecting around 10,000 people to show up for the Grand Opening. If you're interested in viewing the beautiful job they did on the old Sears building, come on down-and stop by the bookstores while you're here. On the other hand, if you're only interested in visiting the bookstore and want to avoid traffic problems, parking problems, and large crowds, you might want to pick another day to visit the bookstores.
        We still don't know when the trees will be planted on Chicago Ave., or when the sidewalk on the east side of the street will be poured, or if we will ever receive the promised places to lock up bicycles in front of the store.
        I'm still trying to get the city to do something about various kinds of damage done to the building by the road construction last year. I was sitting at the computer in the front hallway last fall when they were compacting the gravel into the hole between the southern foundation of the bridge and the section of street in front of our front door, and the entire building was shaking like crazy. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash from behind me, in the front office area. I opened the door and peeked inside. In that section of the store, there is a wooden roof, then an air space, then a layer of lath and plaster, then another air space, and then a suspended ceiling. A large section of plaster had been shaken off of the lath, and it brought parts of the suspended ceiling with it when it crashed into the overstock books down below. It's obvious from the pieces of plaster that the last time a new roof was put on (about 25 years ago, after a tornado flew right over the building on the way to peel the west face off of the Sears warehouse across the street) that a lot of fresh hot tar dripped through the roof onto the top of the plaster and lath, so all of this has to be repaired before I can have a badly-needed new roof poured, or else the hot tar will drip down onto all the books stored in the front office. And then there are the many leaks in the roof where the Uncle Hugo's building meets the Uncle Edgar's building, where there was not a leak before the day of great shaking. And the wide new crack (which is getting wider) in the basement floor in the corner where they dug out my foundation during the bridge destruction. And the new problems with the front door from that corner of the building settling so much. And I've been complaining since they poured the new sidewalks last fall that they left a gap between the sidewalk and the building, so that every time it rains hard the water goes into the new crack and leaks into the basement, where thousands of overstock books are stored. Since last fall, everybody I've complained to has assured me that the people who poured the sidewalks would be back to caulk the crack, but it's now been almost 9 months and the crack still has not been caulked.
        The sign on the front of our building should be re-painted (after 20 years) by the end of May, with just a bit more color.

How's Business?
By Don Blyly

        Things are still tough in the book business, and not just at the Uncles. The government issues monthly and annual reports about various segments of the economy, and the reports typically show something along the lines of an 8% increase for the entire retail segment of the economy, but a 2% decrease for the book industry. Perhaps too many people are spending thousands of dollars on new HDTVs, and then think they have to spend more hours watching them to get their money's worth from the new set. (Or, having spent thousands of dollars on a new HDTV, they then have to spend more money on DVDs so that they have something worth watching on the new sets.) And fewer younger people are spending time doing recreational reading. All four of my kids are good readers, but I don't think the four of them combined do as much recreational reading as I did at their age-and the public schools are turning out lots of kids who are not good readers.
        Whatever the reasons, the big chains are working harder and harder to get a bigger slice of a shrinking pie. Whenever a couple of independent booksellers get together, complaining about how bad business has become is almost certain to arise. It used to be that an increase in business (measured in dollars if not in units) could be counted on every year (aided by the steadily increasing price of books), but now any year that does not show a significant decrease from the year before is considered a major achievement. The only bright spot is that we're not in music retailing, which is hurting much worse, but for different reasons.
        All of the independent bookstores in South Minneapolis are waiting to see what happens to business after the Borders in Calhoun Square goes out of business at the end of May. (Calhoun Square is going to do a huge expansion, and the single-story space where Borders was located will be demolished to make room for multiple-stories. Down the block, the single-story building that holds Orr Books will also be demolished at some point as part of the expansion, but Charlie Orr still doesn't know if he'll be able to get through this Christmas season in his current location or not. This uncertainty makes it difficult to look for a new location or to order merchandise for the upcoming Christmas season.)
        The book industry will be shifting from the current 10-digit ISBN system to a 13-digit ISBN system next January. (So many books have been issued world-wide that they were running out of numbers for new books.) This is going to require us to shift to new software and new computers sometime this summer, at considerable expense. On the bright side, the new software will allow us to put a shopping basket on our website and will allow customers to search our entire new book inventory from the web site. We hope to have the new system operating by September.
        After about 2 ½ years of data entry, we now have about 16,000 of our used books listed on Abebooks.com. But Abebooks has made some changes that has caused many bookdealers to leave the site and has caused most of the rest of us to be very unhappy with them. Once I have a little free time, we'll probably at least add the used book listing to another site that is more friendly to booksellers and perhaps leave Abebooks. Unfortunately, the vendor of our inventory system for new books claims we cannot just add the used book listing from Abebooks to our website and shopping basket without re-entering all 16,000 books by hand to his system.

Award News

        The Nebula Award for Best Novel went to Camouflage by Joe Haldeman ($7.99). The other finalists were Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke ($15.95), Polaris by Jack McDevitt ($7.99), Going Postal by Terry Pratchtt ($7.99), Air by Geoff Ryman ($14.95), and Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright ($24.95).

        The Philip K. Dick Award for best SF published in paperback original in the U.S. went to War Surf by M. M. Buckner ($7.99), with a special citation to Natural History by Justina Robson ($13.00). Other finalists were Cowl by Neal Asher ($7.99), Cagebird by Karin Lowachee ($6.99), Silver Screen by Justina Robson ($15.00), and To Crush the Moon by Wil McCarthy ($6.99).

        The Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Novel went to Air by Geoff Ryman ($14.95).

        The Edgar Award winners include:
        Best Novel to Citizen Vince by Jess Walter ($24.95);
        Best First Novel by an American Author to Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel ($23.95, signed copies of the first printing on order);
        Best Paperback Original to Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford ($13.95);
        Best Critical/Biographical to Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak ($25.00);
        Best Fact Crime to The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and a Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece by Edward Dolnick ($25.95).

        The Agatha Awards are voted on by the members of the Malice Domestic mystery convention. The nominees and winners include:
        Best Novel: The winner is The Body in the Snowdrift by Katherine Hall Page ($23.95, $6.99 pb due early June), and the other finalists are Owls Well The Ends Well by Donna Andrews ($6.99), Rituals of the Season by Margaret Maron ($23.95, $6.99 pb due early August), The Belen Hitch by Pari Noskin Taichert, Trouble in Spades by Heather Webber ($6.50), and Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear ($23.00).
        Best First Novel: The winner is Better Off Wed by Laura Durham ($6.99) and the other finalists are Jury of One by Laura Bradford, Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard ($6.99, signed copies available), Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton ($6.99), and Blood Relations by Lisa Tillman.

        The Dilys Award winner is Thirty-Three Teeth by Colin Coterill ($24.00, $12.00 trade pb due early August), and the other finalists are In a Teapot by Terence Faherty ($18.00), The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson ($14.00), Half Broken Things by Morag Joss ($22.00, $13.00 trade pb due early August), The Tenor Wore Tapshoes by Mark Schweizer ($12.95), and The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow ($14.95).

        The International Thriller Awards are a new set of awards this year. The nominees include:
        Best Novel: Panic by Jeff Abbott ($23.95, $7.99 pb due early August), Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn ($25.95), Velocity by Dean Koontz ($7.99), The Patriots Club by Christopher Reich ($26.00, $7.99 pb due early August), and Citizen Vince by Jess Walter ($24.95).
        Best First Novel: Improbable by Adam Fawer ($7.99), The Color of Law by Mark Gimenez ($19.95), Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride ($6.99), Painkiller by Will Staeger ($7.99), and Beneath a Panamanian Moon by David Terrenoire ($23.95).
        Best Paperback Original: Sleeper Cell by Jeffrey Anderson ($7.99), Pride Runs Deep by R. Cameron Cooke ($7.99), Upside Down by John Ramsay Miller ($6.99), The Dying Hour by Rick Mofina ($6.99), and Exit Strategy by Michael Wiecek ($6.99).

        The Lambda nominees include:
        Best Lesbian Mystery: Women of Mystery edited by Katherine V. Forrest ($17.95), Desert Blood: The Juarez Murders by Alicia Gaspar de Alba ($23.95), Iron Girl by Ellen Hart ($24.95, $14.95 trade pb due mid-June), Darkness Descending by Penny Mickelbury, and Justice Served by Radclyffe ($15.95).
        Best Gay Men's Mystery: One of These Things is not Like the Others by D. Travers Scott ($16.95), The Actor's Guide to Greed by Rick Copp ($23.00), The Paper Mirror by Dorien Grey, White Tiger by Michael Allen Dymmoch ($24.95), and Cajun Snuff by W. Randy Haynes.

        The Gumshoe Awards for best mysteries first published in the U.S. in 2005 includes:
        Best Mystery: The winner is To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman ($24.95, $7.99 pb due early July), and the other finalists are As Dog is My Witness by Jeffrey Cohen, The James Deans by Reed Farrel Coleman ($13.00), Savage Garden by Denise Hamilton ($7.99), and The Wheelman by Duane Swierczynski ($23.95).
        Best Thriller: The winner is Company Man by Joseph Finder ($7.99), and the other finalists are The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly ($26.95, 7.99 pb due early July), The Only Suspect by Jonnie Jacobs ($23.00), Falls the Shadow by William Lashner ($7.99), and Creepers by David Morrell ($24.95).
        Best European Crime Novel: The winner is The Vanished Hands by Robert Wilson ($14.00), and the other finalists are The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde ($24.95 signed), Kiss Her Goodbye by Allan Guthrie ($6.99), Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason ($21.95), and Have Mercy on Us All by Fred Vargas ($14.00).
        Best First Novel: The winner is The Baby Game by Randall Hicks ($22.95), and the other finalists are The Color of Law by Mark Gimenez ($19.95), Tilt-a-Whirl by Chris Grabenstein ($23.95, $14.95 tr pb expected in June), Sacred Cows by Karen E. Olson ($21.95), and Beneath a Panamanian Moon by David Terrenoire ($23.95).

        Iron Girl by Ellen Hart ($24.95, $14.95 trade pb due mid-June) won a Minnesota Book Award.
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