January 10, 2016

Another Year

A bit less than one year ago 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 last year.  If not July of last year, then the second increase scheduled for July of 2016 was certainly going to do the job.

Though 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 2017.  Since that increased expense would be on-going, a basic assumption was that the sponsorship would need to recur each year.

Upcoming Events

An Evening with Patrick Rothfuss Friday, January 15th at 7:00pm

Black Comix Arts Festival at the San Francisco Public Library (Latino/Hispanic Rms A & B, Koret Auditorium, Main Library, 100 Larkin Street) with authors Dawud Anyabwile, Ayize Jama Everett, Jewelle Gomez, Nalo Hopkinson, John Jennings, Brian McGee, and Nnedi Okorafor, Sunday, January 17th from 1:00pm - 4:00pm

SF in SF with authors Cecelia Holland and Kim Stanley Robinson at the American Bookbinders Museum, (355 Clementina between 4th and 5th Streets), Sunday, January 17th at 5:30pm

Lisa Goldstein, WEIGHING SHADOWS (Night Shade Books, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Saturday, January 23rd at 3:00pm

Charlie Jane Anders, ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY Launch Party (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, January 30th at 3:00pm

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, HAUNTING INVESTIGATION (Smoke and Shadow Books, Hardcover, $27.99) Saturday, February 13th at 3:00pm

December Bestsellers

1. CHIMERA by Mira Grant
2. ELANTRIS by Brandon Sanderson
3. WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
4. MANNERS AND MUTINY by Gail Carriger
5. THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi
6. AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson
7. SHADOWS OF SELF by  Brandon Sanderson
8. THE END OF ALL THINGS by John Scalzi
9. THE CINDER SPIRES by Jim Butcher
10. CARTER AND LOVECRAFT by Jonathan L. Howard

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir
2. THE FLUX by Ferrett Steinmetz
3. GIVE UP THE GHOST by Juliet Blackwell
4. A RED-ROSE CHAIN by Seanan McGuire
5. CRUCIBLE by Mercedes Lackey
6. ALIEN-IN-CHIEF by Gini Koch
7. THE BURIED LIFE by Carrie Patel
8. THE SHADOW THRONE by Django Wexler
9. THE GREAT ZOO OF CHINA by Matthew Reilly
10. JOE STEELE by Harry Turtledove

Trade Paperbacks
2. ANCILLARY MERCY by Ann Leckie
3. A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER by Alex Marshall
4. THE FIFTH HEART by Dan Simmons

January News Roundup

* Overheard in the store:
"Wait a minute - you talk about me to your hairdresser?!"

* Of all the things to do with delicious gingerbread?!  Both amazing and horrifying - http://thebiglead.com/2015/12/24/the-shining-gingerbread-house-overlook-hotel/

* For the first time we have actual photos of the sand dunes on Mars!  Check out the gorgeous images captured by the rover Curiosity: http://www.mentalfloss.com/article/72439/curiosity-rover-studies-mars-sand-dunes-close-first-time\

* Did you know that creators can submit ideas for new Lego sets, and those that get 10,000 supporters will be reviewed by Lego for possible production?  Everyone should go support this amazing black and white Lovelace & Babbage Analytical Engine Lego set; a stunning creation: https://ideas.lego.com/projects/102740 . More photos here: http://io9.gizmodo.com/bring-back-victorian-science-with-this-lego-lovelace-b-1747433388

* George Clayton Johnson, who co-wrote LOGAN'S RUN along with episodes of both "The Twilight Zone" and "Star Trek",  has passed away.  He had been fighting cancer for some time. Check out his many accomplishments in this New York Times Piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/28/arts/television/george-clayton-johnson-science-fiction-writer-known-for-logans-run-dies-at-86.html

* In further sad news, author Peter Dickinson, winner of two Carnegie medals, also passed away recently.  He was a talented and beloved author of a number of genres.  Head over to The Independent to read his entire impressive bio: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/peter-dickinson-award-winning-crime-and-children-s-writer-whose-work-was-extraordinary-in-its-range-a6779366.html

* Tor.com, which has been publishing fascinating and experimental science fiction novellas in paper as well as on their website, will cease accepting unsolicited submissions this month.  It’s a shame, since we think some of their most innovative stories have come from unknowns. http://www.tor.com/2015/12/21/tor-com-is-closed-to-short-fiction-submissions/

* In better news for un-agented authors, UK speculative publishing powerhouse Gollancz will be accepting unsolicited and un-agented novel manuscripts during the month of January, 2016. Check out their criteria here: http://www.gollancz.co.uk/2015/10/gollancz-direct-submissions-january-2016/  (And get those novels done!)

* The Quartz has an interesting article on how books and newspapers will successfully survive the next few years, but magazines will not fare as well. http://qz.com/584744/books-and-newspapers-will-do-just-fine-in-2016-magazines-not-so-much/

* Peter S. Beagle has sued his longtime manager, alleging elder abuse and fraud among other charges.  More details are here: http://www.comicsbeat.com/noted-fantasy-author-peter-s-beagle-sues-his-business-manager-for-elder-abuse/

* An interesting meditation on whether GRRM should actually be blamed for the delay of THE WINDS OF WINTER and the curse of success: https://www.inverse.com/article/9809-should-george-r-r-martin-be-blamed-for-delay-of-the-winds-of-winter

* "Invisible Universe: A History of Blackness in Speculative Fiction", the documentary that has been in production for a number of years, appears to be reaching the final stretch of fundraising, and the filmmakers have released a seven-minute demo film. http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/watch-upcoming-documentary-explores-history-of-blackness-in-speculative-fiction-fundraising-demo-20160104

* "The Expanse" for Syfy, based on the bestselling series by James S.A. Corey, has already been renewed for a second season.  http://www.scifinow.co.uk/news/the-expanse-season-2-confirmed-by-syfy/

* io9.com brings us this beautifully animated film, “Waltz with Four Hands” http://io9.gizmodo.com/a-pair-of-conjoined-porcelain-dolls-make-a-connection-t-1750893457

* Also from io9, here’s a great list of the oddest ways that major characters were written out of sequels and franchises: http://io9.gizmodo.com/29-most-random-ways-that-major-characters-got-written-o-1750129488

* This very interesting piece by television producer John Yorke argues that the structure of successful Western storytelling might possibly have roots in a universal archetype: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/01/into-the-woods-excerpt/421566/

* Wired took some of the biggest science fiction movies of 2015 and posited what would happen if their science was a bit more realistic.  The results are . . . not pretty. http://www.wired.com/2016/01/sci-fi-endings-with-less-fiction-and-more-science/

* Saucony has made a mini-documentary about Matthew Inman, creator of the comic "The Oatmeal":  http://theoatmeal.com/blog/saucony

* "The Guardian" has an article discussing the highly anticipated, diverse SF/F books coming out in the new year.

* And of course since it’s a new year, it is time for everyone’s lists of SF/F for the preceding year!  Check out the following: io9 gives us not only the 10 best but also the 10 worst science fiction & fantasy films of the past year:
Outer Places instead just focused on the worst science fiction movies, and there’s surprisingly not as much overlap with i09 as you would think: http://www.outerplaces.com/science-fiction/item/10636-the-worst-sci-fi-movies-of-2015
SciFiNow (http://www.scifinow.co.uk/news/top-10-most-exciting-new-tv-shows-of-2016/) and Popular Mechanics (http://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/g2395/16-things-in-science-fiction-to-look-forward-to-in-2016/) decided to list the things they are excited to see in 2016; only time will tell how many of those end up on the best/worst lists NEXT year!

Award News

* Joe R. Lansdale will receive the Raymond Chandler Award at the Italian Courmayeur Noir: http://variety.com/2015/film/news/joe-r-lansdale-to-be-feted-by-italys-courmayeur-noir-in-festival-1201638242/

* The Masters Review -- a platform for emerging writers -- has announced their Fall Fiction Winners.  Check them out: https://mastersreview.com/fall-fiction-winners/

* The winners of the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Award have been announced -- congratulations to Karen Coombs and Sallie Wolf!  The grant of $3000 is to honor the contribution of mid-list authors and bring attention to their current works in progress: http://www.scbwi.org/congrats-to-the-2015-jane-yolen-mid-list-author-award-winners/