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Last Modified: April 12, 2021
An image of Hugo the cat, in Analog Books
An interview with Victor Hugo Cabret from Analog Books

“I built Analog Books so the people would have a comfortable place to come and adore me. The books are just souvenirs they can take home to remind them of me.” —Hugo

Victor Hugo Cabret (“Hugo”) is the head honcho over at Analog Books, an independent bookstore that opened in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 2020, in the midst of the global pandemic. He is most well-known for welcoming community members to the store and his captivating work on their social media channels. We sat down with Mr. Cabret to chat about the joys and challenges of running a new bookstore.

An image of Hugo the cat sleeping in front of the fireplace. A portrait of him hangs above the fireplace.Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Victor Hugo Cabret, but my fans and staff just call me Hugo. My mother was a rescue cat who instilled a great love of literature in me and my siblings. One of my favourite books is To Kill a Mockingbird. I commissioned a portrait of myself reading it, which you can see hanging above my fireplace. I built Analog Books so the people would have a comfortable place to come and adore me. The books are just souvenirs they can take home to remind them of me. They’re always asking me to sign them, but without that opposing thumb, it’s a challenge. My sister’s a polydactyl, she could do it, but we aren’t talking at the moment (a long story). But I digress…what was the question?

Take us through a day in your life. 
Well, my staff arrives late most days, well past 5:30 a.m., when I wake up. So my breakfast rarely arrives before 8:30 a.m. (I really need to hire a service). The fans start arriving around 10 a.m. Most days, little people will show up to cheer me on chasing mouse and bird. Little people are far more interesting to spend time with, they get me. Big people usually just like to ohh and ahh and squeeze, and they always stop scratching right when they get to the itchy place. (What’s wrong with those people?) By 11 a.m., I’m exhausted and it’s nap time. The staff takes care of the shop while I curl up in front of the fire. They do their thing (whatever that is), and I do mine. At night, I climb up into my bed above the front door. I keep watch on the street below looking for rogue mice. I pretty well take care of security downtown. Since I arrived, crime has plummeted and cat adoption is way up.

An image of bookstore cat Hugo, walking across stacks of books.How has the pandemic changed your job? 
It took a while to get used to the alcohol smell on my fans’ hands during the obligatory scritches and the big people keep hiding their faces behind masks, but otherwise it’s pretty well the same. Well, now that I think about it, perhaps there’s been more lovin’ and squeezin’ than there used to be. Not sure what that’s all about.

Tell us one thing about bookselling that people would be surprised to know.
People don’t appreciate how hard it is to navigate around all these books. I keep telling them to leave the counter and table tops clear but they just don’t listen. What’s wrong with these people?

What is the biggest challenge of overseeing staff in a bookstore? 
Time management. It is very hard to work in my preferred twenty-two hours of sleep while keeping a tight ship at the store. Not to mention that my staff are always trying to put away the boxes. The boxes are the best part! They just don’t understand bookselling.

An image of Hugo the bookstore cat yawning as he lies on top of a ladder in front of a bookshelf.What’s a question you wish people would ask you about your work? 
“Do you really sleep twenty-two hours a day?” And the answer is, only when you don’t wake us up to come entertain the little people. I like to shoot for twenty-three-and-a-half, but those darn kids insist on flying that bird around just out of reach. One day I’ll catch that little ball of feathers, then watch out little people, the feathers will be flying. There will be tears.

How do you organize your personal library? 
Of course I prefer books about cats, all these ones about humans and aliens and robots (and dogs) are so last century. Ideally they are picture books of gray tabbies like me. But they never manage to capture the essence of my physique. I should just publish a book of my own, it would be a bestseller of course. I would call it, The World Needs More Hugo.

Do you see any exciting developments happening in the future of bookselling? 
Yes, more cats in bookstores. The people only really come to see us cats, the books are just there to pay the bills. It doesn’t really matter what’s in those books, what really matters is how good looking us cats are. We are like catnip for humans, they can’t resist. They’re so gullible. We figured it out generations agobookstores make the best domiciles. It’s the best of all worlds: cozy beds by fireplaces, good food, all the attention we could possibly want. We already control the humans’ social media system, the only thing left are the bookstores, then total world domination. No wonder Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars, he knows what’s coming. Cattus lex – resistere futilis

An image of Hugo the bookstore cat sitting in the store in front of a typewriter, as a harpist plays in the store behind him.