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Archived Newsletter Content


Newsletter #85 March May, 2009

35th 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 35th 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 35th Anniversary Sale lasts Friday, February 27 through Sunday, March 8. This gives you two weekends to take advantage of the sale.

Award News

        The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman ($17.99) won the 2009 Newbery Award for most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

        The Preliminary Nebula Award Ballet for novels consists of A Betrayal in Winter by Daniel Abraham ($7.99), One for Sorrow by Chris Barzak ($12.00), Territory by Emma Bull ($7.99), Little Brother by Cory Doctorow ($17.95), In War Times by Kathleen Ann Goonan ($25.95), Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin ($17.00, $7.99 pb due in April), Cauldron by Jack McDevitt ($7.99), Brasyl by Ian McDonald ($25.00, $15.98 trade pb due late April), Making Money by Terry Pratchett ($25.95 signed hc or $7.99 pb), and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss ($7.99).

        The nominees for the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original in the U.S. in 2008 are Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders ($15.98), Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K. A. Bedford ($17.95), Plague War by Jeff Carlson ($7.99). Emissaries from the Dead by Adam-Troy Castro ($7.99), Judge by Karen Traviss ($7.99), and Terminal Mind by David Walton.

        The 2009 Crawford Award for first fantasy novel went to Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory ($13.00). The other finalists were Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst ($25.95), Thunderer by Felix Gilman ($6.99), Last Dragon by J. M. McDermott ($14.95) and Superpowers by David Schwartz ($14.95).

        The Mystery Writers of America announced the nominees for the 2008 Edgar Awards. The nominees for Best Novel are Missing by Karin Alvtegen ($14.95), Blue Heaven by C. J. Box ($24.95 signed hc or $7.99 pb), Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno ($7.99), The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes ($24.95), The Night Following by Morag Joss ($13.00), and Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz ($14.00).
        The nominees for Best First Novel by an American are The Kind One by Tom Epperson ($15.00 trade pb due early April), Sweetsmoke by David Fuller ($24.95), The Foreigner by Francie Lin ($14.00), Calumet City by Charlie Newton ($14.00), and A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock ($24.95 signed).
        The nominees for Best Paperback Original are The Prince of Bagram by Alex Carr ($14.00), Money Shot by Christa Faust ($6.99), Enemy Combatant by Ed Gaffney ($6.99), China Lake by Meg Gardiner ($7.99), and The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli ($6.99).

        The nominees for the Annual North American Hammett Prize are Leading Lady by Heywood Gould, The Finder by Colin Harrison ($25.00), City of the Sun by David Levien ($24.95, $7.99 pb due March), The Turnaround by George Pelecanos ($24.99, $14.99 trade pb due April), and South by South Bronx by Abraham Rodriguez ($15.95).

        The nominees for the Dilys Award, the book chosen by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association as the one they most enjoed selling, are Trigger City by Sean Chercover ($23.95 signed hc), The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler ($24.00), Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn ($6.99), Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith ($24.99, $7.99 pb due in April), and Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow ($23.95).

        The nominees for the Lefty Award for most humorous mystery published last year are Six Geese a-Slaying by Donna Andrews ($22.95), It Happened One Knife by Jeffrey Cohen ($7.99), Thugs and Kisses by Sue Ann Jaffarian ($13.95), Murder at the Bad Girl’s Bar and Grill by N. M Kelby ($23.00 signed), Getting Old Is To Die For by Rita Lakin ($6.99), and Greasing the Pinata by Tim Maleeny ($24.95 signed).

        The nominees for The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery are A Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander ($23.95), A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen ($23.95), Tell Me, Pretty Maiden by Rhys Bowen ($23.95, $6.99 pb due March), Touchstone by Laurie R. King ($12.00), and Nox Dormienda, A Long Night For Sleeping by Kelli Stanley.

        The nominees for the Hawaii Five-0 Award for police procedurals are Angels Fall by Baron Birtcher ($23.95), The Angel of Knowlton Park by Kate Flora, The Black Path by Asa Larsson ($12.00), Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet ($13.95), Mahu Fire by Neil S. Plakcy ($14.95), and Fractured by Karin Slaughter ($25.00 signed).

How’s Business?
by Don Blyly

        While the major chains were down by double digits for the fourth quarter, we were slightly up for the fourth quarter. Amazingly, in spite of the extremely cold January, we were also up slightly in January, although many days we lost money by being open. Some customers commented about being more concerned about helping local businesses stay in business during hard economic times. (I’ve noticed the same thing about my purchasing habits, especially regarding restaurants that I would hate to see go out of business during the recession.) But several other customers commented that the chains had cut back their stock of books so drastically that the customers had to come to us instead of buying from their local chain stores. In early December, after reading several industry reports on how severely Borders had cut back their inventory, I drove out to one of the local Borders. At first glance, they seemed to have a lot of books; but then I notice that they only had one title from our hardcover top ten science fiction/fantasy bestsellers of the month before, and only three of our top ten mass market science fiction/fantasy bestsellers. I’ve heard from several people that the chains have cut back their inventory even more since Christmas, but I haven’t had time to drive around and form my own opinion.
        As sales dropped like crazy at the chains, they didn’t have the cash to pay their bills to the publishers, so they started returning books to a greater extent than ever before and trimming back the quantities they had previously ordered of forthcoming books. The publishers still have to meet their payrolls and pay their printing bills, so they’ve become more aggressive at trying to squeeze more money out of the little guys (like the Uncles) and have cancelled some books, increased the prices on other books, and pushed the release dates of others farther into the future, so that their printing expenses will be more in line with their expected cash flows. As the number of titles released per month goes down, it takes longer to clear the inventory of purchased manuscripts, so they are buying fewer new manuscripts and probably offering smaller advances on average. All of this makes good business sense, but makes life rough on everybody, including authors who are not bestsellers and readers waiting for the next book in a series.
        The information about new titles for the newsletter comes primarily from the publishers’ catalogs, although sometimes we also go to websites for smaller publishers that don’t send catalogs to us. Usually we also check a few of the titles against the website of our national book wholesaler, Baker & Taylor, where there’s reason to think that our information might be questionable. For the last issue of the newsletter, we started checking a few titles and found so many changes that we eventually checked every single title against the Baker & Taylor website. Nearly 20% of the titles had either a price change or a release date change or both after the publishers sent out the catalogs, and many more titles were changed or canceled after the newsletter was published. This issue we are also checking every title against the wholesaler’s website, but expect that there will be more changes after we go to press.
        While our sales have been up slightly from the previous year’s (disappointing) levels, the property tax bill has gone through the roof. It will cost us about an extra $250 per month to cover property tax this year. The only way we could see to cover that much of a jump in expenses is to increase the minimum price on used paperback from $2.00 to $2.50. Looking at the sales of $2.00 used paperbacks over the last 6 months, the price increase will just about cover the increase in the property tax bill. The price increase will take place on March 1. When most new mass market paperbacks are going for $6.99, $7.99, or even $9.99, a $2.50 used paperback is still a great bargain.
        The fire marshal inspected the Uncles and wrote orders that it cost a couple thousand dollars to comply with (and also resulted in a lot fewer used hardcovers on the floor at Uncle Edgar’s). When it was below zero, the city gave us seven days to remove some graffiti by either painting over it or treating it with chemical and then using a high-pressure water hose on it. A couple of weeks later, it got above freezing and I painted over the graffiti (which apparently had been there since last summer, hidden by the trees). That was good enough for the anti-graffiti people. I don’t think either of these incidents were related to our lawsuit against the city for the damages to our building from the bridge construction.
        We’re using a new system to get the data about forthcoming books prepared for the newsletter and the website, which has been very time consuming for the first time, but we hope will save time after all the bugs get worked out. Because there are limits to how much space we have in the paper newsletter, we’ve always had to cut some of the descriptions and some of the titles to make the information fit the space available. For one example, when the number of manga titles approached 12 per month we stopped listing them in the newsletter because we needed the space for other things, and we had only sold 1 manga title by mail order as a result of listing all those manga titles for many issues, and the in-store customers know where to look for new manga titles. Until last issue, the information on the website was the same as the information in the paper newsletter. With last issue, you could view the information on the website in the old format or in the shopping basket format. With this issue, you will have the same option, but the shopping basket format will include the titles we dropped from the paper newsletter (including the manga titles) and the longer descriptions that we had to trim for the paper newsletter. We know there are some important things that we still have to add to the shopping basket format (such as a button that says “This is to pay for an order arranged by e-mail” and a search function), and we hope to get those installed soon.
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