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The Uncles

December 10, 2014

I like bookstores. Not the big superstore chain bookstores, but the small independent bookstores. The kind you go to – and this isn’t meant as a slam against anyone who works at a superstore chain bookstore – and the person helping you and answering your questions is doing what he’s doing because he loves books and bookstores as much as you do.

In Minneapolis we’re lucky to have “The Uncles”. Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore and Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore. I discovered Uncle Hugo’s around 1975 and I slid around the corner and found Uncle Edgar’s shortly after they opened. I followed them both from their Franklin and 4th Avenue South locations to their current Chicago Avenue location and I have these two bookstores, and a guy named Scott Imes (Scott sadly passed away in 2001), to thank for probably 90% of what I still read to this day, almost 40 years later. But my love for The Uncles and my appreciation of Scott Imes aside, I’m not interested in talking about how great they all are right now. What I’m interested in talking about is the demise of the small independent bookseller and how you and I and everyone we know who loves reading can help stop it.The Uncle's storefront

The Uncles publish a quarterly newsletter that contains store news, book reviews and release dates. In addition to that, each issue contains a “How’s Business” column written by The Uncles’ owner Don Blyly. Unfortunately, that column is generally depressing because business for The Uncles is not good and the last newsletter, issue #108, was particularly sad. Partly because it contained news that the oldest independent bookseller in the Twin Cities had gone out of business and partly because The Uncles are, for the first time ever, shortening their business hours because of a continued drop in sales, but mostly because of this comment from Blyly.

“While the entire retail sector of the economy continues to grow, the bookstore sales continue to decline, with the bookstore sector doing significantly worse than the entire retail sector, and I don’t expect that to change in the near future. Part of the problem is competition from e-books and part is competition from Amazon and part is heavy discounting on a few bestselling titles by Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, etc. If enough people do all their book buying at Walmart, etc., pretty soon the only books they will be able to buy are the few that Walmart, etc., choose to carry because all of the bookstores will be out of business.”

I’m part of the problem because when I bought an E-reader a few years ago I stopped, for the most part, buying traditional books. But maybe I can be a part of the solution by telling other people about The Uncles and their books – both new titles and their vast used and collectible inventory, their online sales, their magazines, their memorabilia and gifts, their t-shirts and their informed and insightful staff. Subscribe to their great newsletter for only $5.00 a year and pay a little extra for it because of the useful book reviews. And then when you’re done reading it leave it in a coffee shop or someplace public so someone else can read it.

Go here and browse around at The Uncles’ website.

Go here and read The Uncles’ blog.

If you’re in the neighborhood stop in and shop with The Uncles. Buy a book or buy a gift certificate for someone you know who loves Science Fiction, Fantasy and Mysteries.

If you know someone in the neighborhood tell them to stop in and buy you something.

Happy reading!

Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore

Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore

2864 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis MN 55407

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