January 14, 2018

2018 Sponsorships Are Ready To Go

At the beginning of 2015 Borderlands was getting ready to close.  San Francisco voters had passed an increase in the minimum wage that was going to end the financial viability of the store, probably by the middle of July that year.  If not at that point, then the second increase scheduled for July of this year was certainly going to do the job.  Although I and the rest of the staff strongly support minimum wage laws in general and we suspected that San Francisco's local increase would be generally positive for the city as a whole, we were trapped by the idiosyncrasy of the book business.  Unlike most products, books have a price printed on them. That makes the usual business solution of increasing prices to cover higher expenses impossible for us.  Rather than ride the business down into the grave, I and the rest of the staff decided it was better to close quickly, at the time of our choosing and at the top of our game.

Our customers were very much opposed to this and, out of their comments & suggestions and in consultation with the staff, we decided to try an experiment.  We would ask that a minimum of 300 people sponsor the store for $100 each.  If that many people were willing, it would offset the added expense of the wage increases that were scheduled to raise the wage to $15 per hour by the middle of the following year.  Since that increased expense would be on-going, a basic assumption was that the sponsorship would need to recur each year.

2018 will be our fourth year operating as a sponsored business.  Thus far, it has been a huge success.  Not only have more than double the required number of people sponsored us for the past two years but, with the support of our sponsors, customers, and fellow professionals in our field, we were able to raise the funds to purchase a building on Haight Street to be our permanent location.  2018, our 20th year in business, is going to be a momentous one marked by our relocation to our new home.  We will no longer be subject to the greatest threat to the survival of any small business -- a massive and unmanageable increase in rent.

As exciting as this year will be, it's not going to be easy.  We are still under the wage pressure that caused us to start the sponsorship program in the first place.  In time, our new building will ease some of that pressure, once the costs of moving and the finances stabilize, but for now the finances of the building are only self-supporting and they do not benefit the bookstore.  In fact, the building finances are only self-supporting once the bookstore is paying the rent that currently goes to our landlord into the building's coffers instead.  Added to that pressure, Alan will be doing a great deal of work to get the building is shape to house the store, which means that there will be even more work than usual for the rest of the bookstore and cafe staff.

If you have never been a sponsor or if you were in the past but stopped, this year will be a watershed moment for your support.  If you'd like to sign up, you can do so on-line at https://borderlands-books.com/buysponsorship.html, or you can call 888 893-4008, email office@borderlands-books.com or come into the store in person.  Though there are quite a few benefits to sponsorship (you'll find a full list here - http://borderlands-sponsors.blogspot.com/p/sponsor-benefits-and-privilidges.html) the greatest thing that your sponsorship will accomplish is helping us move forward and make our transition to our new space.

If you're interested in more details about how the sponsorship program came to be, you'll find the story here http://borderlands-sponsors.blogspot.com/p/why-sponsorships.html.

In closing we'd like to thank everyone who has been a sponsor in the past.  Without you, we wouldn't be here.  

January Building News

by Alan Beatts

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year,

I hope that 2018 is treating you well thus far.  For me it started with a horrible cold and it's gotten steadily better from there (not a hard trick to accomplish).  Of course, it's been crazy busy and I'm still way behind on my email, but it would be unreasonable to think that it would be any other way given the events of the past few months.

The biggest one, our purchase of the building on Haight Street (Borderlands West, if you will), has been working out mostly quite well with only a few hiccups so far.  The process of getting the building in shape for us to move is mostly what I'm going to be writing about in this newsletter over the next few months.  Those posts are liable to be pretty long (like this one), which is why we've moved them to the end of the newsletter.

Before I get into all the news and plans about the building, I wanted to let you all know that I'll be having an open-house there this month.  This Saturday, January the 20th, I'll be around from noon until six in the evening.  Feel free to stop by any time in that window and I'll give you the nickel-tour of the place as well as answering any questions you have about our plans.  If you can make it, you really should -- the place is probably just about as torn up as it'll ever be and I think it will be fun in a few years to talk about how you remember back when it was a construction site.

But, if you can't make it to the open house, I've finally got some pictures up - http://borderlands-books.blogspot.com/p/haight-st-photos.html.  It's not the best forum for pictures but it was easy to do and easy is a feature much in demand for me, right now.  I should have more pictures up in a bit.

Upcoming Events

Chad Stroup, SECRETS OF THE WEIRD (Grey Matter Press, Trade Paperback, $18.95) Sunday, January 21st at 3:00 pm

Na'amen Gobert Tilahun, THE TREE (NightShade Books, Trade Paperback, $14.99) Sunday, January 28th at 2:00 pm 

SF in SF with authors Cecelia Holland and Kim Stanley Robinson (at the American Bookbinders' Museum, 355 Clementina, San Francisco) Sunday, January 28th at 6:30 pm

David Fitzgerald and Dana Fredsti, TIME SHARDS (Titan Books, Trade Paperback, $14.95) Saturday, February 3rd at 3:00 pm

NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED (Book View Cafe, Trade Paperback, $19.99) with authors Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Marie Brennan, Nancy Jane Moore, Deborah Ross and Dave Smeds Saturday, February 10th at 3:00 pm

Writers With Drinks with authors Steph Burt, Ellen Klages, C.B. Lee, Angela Pneuman, and Molly Sauter  (at the Make-Out Room, Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, San Francisco, CA) Saturday, February 10th at 7:30 pm

December Bestsellers


1) Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
2) La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
3) Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
4) Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
5) Artemis by Andy Weir
6) Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders
7) Well of Ascension Special Leatherbound Edition by Brandon Sanderson
8) A War in Crimson Embers by Alex Marshall
9) The Power by Naomi Alderman
10) The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer

Trade Paperbacks

1) The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans by Ken Liu
2) Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
3) The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
4) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
5) Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
6) The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
7) The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
8) A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
9) Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
10) A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

Mass Market Paperbacks

1) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
2) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
3) The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
4) Old Man's War by John Scalzi
5) Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
6) Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
7) Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
8) The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt
9) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
10) Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

January News

* Overheard in the Store:

"My astrological chart makes it really difficult. . . I desperately want to save the world, but I can't find my keys."

"There's a 'Game of Thrones' coloring book?  Does it only come with red crayons?"

"Frequently when I'm traveling it ends up being 'Hm, books or pants?'"

"She's so beautiful. . . it's like if Disney had made a Goth princess."

"Well, yeah -- [Book Title] is totally atrocious trash, but it's SO MUCH fun to read!"

"You've got to grab life by the cookies."

"My brain is like, 'I know it's 3 am & you were just about to doze off, but you don't actually know what "emulsify" means! You should look it up IMMEDIATELY!'"

"I may have reached 'peak San Francisco'.  Girlfriend has 'Instant pot' on her Christmas list, and I have no idea whether that is a cooking thing, or a medical marijuana delivery service, like InstaCart for joints."

* Overheard at Writers With Drinks:

"Alyssa Cole understands that the most heroic thing an intergalactic hero can do is fall in love."

"I don't know what a BitCoin is, but it seems like the kind of thing you'd get when you sell your soul."

"Bookstores are like a magical petting zoo for stories!"

"It's not like 'Oh, I can't watch that anymore because. . . hyperspace."

* Our friends at Comix Experience <https://www.comixexperience.com/> will be hosting a signing with the fabulous Saladin Ahmed on January 19th at 6:00 pm!  He'll be signing BLACK BOLT.  For more information, see https://www.comixexperience.com/events/

* Distinguished local author Nick Mamatas is teaching another Fabulist Fiction course at WeWork Golden Gate (25 Taylor St., San Francisco).  The class will run for six sessions (Saturday, 2:00 - 5:00 pm), February 10th - March 17, 2018.  For more information, and to sign up, see: https://sfwriting.institute/portfolio/fabulist_fiction/

* R.I.P. Susan Grafton, celebrated author of the popular Kinsey Millhone mystery series.  Her daughter has stated that there will be no ghostwriter to finish off the series and it will stay lettered from A to Y  https://www.nbcnewyork.com/entertainment/entertainment-news/Mystery-Writer-Sue-Grafton-Dies-in-California-467174743.html

December 05, 2017

Borderlands Opinionated Holiday Gift Guide

by Jude Feldman

I was delighted to see that most retailers this year actually waited until Thanksgiving was over before putting out their holiday decorations (or worse, turning up the holiday music)!  Last year, I swear, it seemed like a bunch of stores were moving in Christmas lights, menorahs, and New Year's noisemakers on July 5th, so I appreciate the restraint this time 'round.  However, winter is well and truly here now, and I'm personally thrilled that the gift-giving season has arrived, because there are just so many absolutely wonderful books to brighten the days of your friends and family.

We here present our usual Opinionated (and Digression-Filled) Gift Guide to help you out.  However, if you don't see something appropriate here, we're always happy to make custom suggestions for you or anyone in your life.  We'll even wrap 'em for you!  (A special note to those of you purchasing presents: we're glad to gift wrap upon request, although our typical caveats apply: first, if we're busy, you may have to wait a bit to have things wrapped, and, second, some staff members are MUCH better than others at it.  It is possible that your package may resemble a brightly wrapped Lovecraft-ian, batrachian, rugose, Thing of No Human Shape.  For some customers, this is not a problem . . ."better than I can do!," they say.  However, if you are concerned about our, ahem, abilities, we're also happy to just hand you the gift wrap, scissors and tape.)

Now, onward!

Let's start with a huge selection of signed books.  We're quite spoiled with all the marvelous local authors who have dropped by to sign their work recently, and we currently have signed books from Charlie Jane Anders, S.G. Browne, Gail Carriger, Richard Kadrey, Ellen Klages, Nick Mamatas, Seanan McGuire (no longer local, but still in our hearts and willing to sign books on the tailgate of the store's truck in a random parking lot in San Lorenzo in a giant rush, which surely looked like the world's strangest drug deal),  Christopher Moore,  Annalee Newitz, and many, many more!   Also, Marie Brennan and Becky Chambers be around in the next week or so, so feel free to request personalized copies -- we'll make it happen if we possibly can.

Upcoming Events

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Northern California Holiday Party, Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 pm

Writers With Drinks (at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, San Francisco) with authors Becky Chambers, Alyssa Cole, David D. Levine, Dean Rader, Lauren Sanders and Danna Staaf, Saturday, December 9th at 6:30 pm

SF in SF (at the American Bookbinders' Museum, 355 Clementina St. San Francisco) with authors Ben Loory and Ken Scholes, Sunday, December 10th at 6:30 pm

Steve Ryfle, ISHIRO HONDA: A LIFE IN FILM, FROM GODZILLA TO KUROSAWA (Wesleyan, Hardcover, $32.95) Saturday, January 6th, 2018 at 3:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY (Tor.com, Hardcover, $17.99)  Thursday, January 11th at 6:00 pm

Kate Elliott presents "Do Not Be Satisfied With Stories: Narrative Structure and Expectations" Friday, January 12th at 6:00 pm

Special Announcements

Help with Our New Building

As you're probably aware, we've just bought a 1902 building on Haight Street that will be the permanent home for Borderlands.  The place needs a fair amount of work and we're happy to accept help doing the work, if you'd like to give it.  You'll be working with a pretty fine group of people and you'll have a chance to learn a bunch about how buildings are put together and restored.  If that sounds interesting, please drop Alan a line at abeatts@borderlands-books.com or you can just reply to this email.

There's another sort of help we're looking for as well.  And, if you're a long-time SF resident, you might have what we need.  Alan and Zach (our historian) are looking for pictures of the south side of Haight Street between Masonic and Central.  The older the better but even shots from as short a time as five years ago would be very welcome.  We're putting together a history of the building and finding photographs has been surprisingly difficult.  If you've got something, please let Alan know.

Limited Edition 20th Anniversary Hoodie

We unveiled the special Borderlands Books 20th anniversary hoodie last month at our party, and we still have some left for sale.  They feature a lovely silk-screened design courtesy of sponsor Michelle Rapp, and will only be available for a limited time.  We're happy to ship them world-wide or you can stop by the shop to pick one up.  If you'd like one shipped, please call the shop during business hours toll-free at 888 893-4008 or you can email us to make arrangements.  The hoodies are $55 each, plus any shipping charges, and they are sized from small to XXXL.  One note about sizing -- they are quite a trim fit, and so you might want to go a size larger than usual unless you like your clothing snug.

Check out Alan modeling one here - https://borderlands-books.blogspot.com/2017/12/20th-anniversary-hoodie.html (There's also a bonus picture of a Sponsor wearing one of the first ones sold, positioned to dominate our fair city).

Building News

by Alan Beatts

Well, there's a lot in this month's newsletter, so I'm going to keep this short.  Don't worry though, I'll have much more news and information about our new building in the next newsletter.  But, here's the quick version.  The previous owner and occupant of the retail space has packed all his stuff and is out.  I've met both of the residential tenants, and they both seem like lovely people.  I've also met most of the neighbors, and they're equally nice.

So now we're really digging into getting the work done.  Weekend before last we removed the decades of ivy from the backyard and cleaned it up.  Turns out that, under a foot of leaves, mulch and dirt, there's a concrete pad that covers most of the yard.  One of our next outside jobs is going to be breaking that out and hauling it away.  Once that's done, we can start the hardscape (probably dry-laid brick), and then get working on the planters and plantings.  Our gardener and designer, Melinda Rose <http://botanikagardens.com/index.html>, and I will be working on the layout over the next few weeks.

Inside, it's demolition time.  Last weekend we took out the ill-advised acoustical ceiling and much of the drop ceiling as well.  There's still a bit more to go, but most of the "bones" of the building are visible,   and they look pretty good.  Beams are oversized by current standards, a full 2" thick, and old-growth, clear fir.  There don't seem to be any notable problems other than some fire damage in the stairway area (probably dating to 1973).  I still need to open up the walls in a couple of places to see what's there, but the building looks to be as solid as I thought it was.

I met with our architect, Kevin Short <https://kjs-arch.com>, today and he agrees with me that the place looks really good.  I'm still "learning" the building -- figuring out what was done, why and when (with a great deal of help from our historian, Zachary Harper).  I'm sure that there'll be some surprises as we go along (because there always are) but I don't think that there are going to be any bad ones.

The question that I'm asked the most is when we'll be moving.  Obviously we're not doing that until we've got all the work done at the place.  Since some of my plans include things like an ADA accessible restroom, refinishing the floors, and building all new bookshelves, the construction isn't going to be a fast process.  So, at this point, there are too many variables to make even an educated guess at how long the process will take.  That said, I'm hoping for a May opening but, please, don't hold me to that.

In closing, I want to thank all the people who have helped out with the work so far.  They are, in no particular order: Melinda, Eloise, Garrett, Jane, Laura, Claud, Russ, Colleen, Marie, Jay, Carl, April, Kestrel, Starling, Zach, Dave, Elizabeth, Emily, Ramon and, last but far from least, Salem and Jude.  Without their generous, cheerful, and profoundly aggressive help, I would still be standing in the middle of the backyard, knee deep in ivy, and cursing nature.

-- Alan Beatts

November Bestsellers

1. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
2. Edgedancer by Brandon Sanderson
3. Artemis by Andy Weir
4. Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson
5. La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
6. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
7. Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charlie Jane Anders
8. Name of the Wind Tenth Anniversary Edition by Patrick Rothfuss
9. Provenance by Ann Leckie
10. Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
3. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
4. Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger
5. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
6. The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
7. Tales of Falling and Flying by Ben Loory
8. Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
9. Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
10. An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt
2. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
3. Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
4. Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
5. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
6. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
8. Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
10. Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn