April 11, 2016

Oh, Poor North Carolina

by Alan Beatts

A fine local bookstore in North Carolina is suffering from the national reaction to a recent discriminatory law passed by the state legislature.  Though I understand the underlying  reasons, I think that there's some unfortunate ally-harming going on.  In a recent open letter, Linda-Marie Barrett, general manager of Malaprop's Bookstore, explained that authors canceling appearances could be very harmful and is perhaps not really justified.  http://www.shelf-awareness.com/issue.html?issue=2728#m32075

Speaking from personal experience, Malaprop's is a lovely shop that embodies everything that is good about independent bookstores.  It's located in Asheville, N.C., which is a hot-bed of liberal attitudes in a mostly conservative state.  Honestly, they might as well have a sign at the entrance to town saying, "San Franciscans Welcome".  But, due to the recent passage of HB2, many businesses, organizations and individuals have chosen to protest by refusing to do business in the state.  (For details about HB2 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Facilities_Privacy_%26_Security_Act).  Probably the highest profile protest thus far was Bruce Springsteen's cancelation of his Greensboro concert  -- with only two days notice.

HB2 is a loathsome law.  The headlines about it have focused on bathroom access for transgender people but some of the other parts are much more serious.  Notably, it requires that a person's legal gender is fixed at birth and cannot be changed.  And it sharply restricts legal enforcement of the state's existing anti-discrimination statutes in the state courts.

I agree with the prevailing attitude that the best way to hit almost any government or organization is in the pocketbook and that refusing to conduct business in states that promote discrimination is an outstanding way to foster change.  But, just like anytime you start hitting someone or something, it's important to avoid collateral damage.

Bookstores have been a bastion of free expression and the free exchange of ideas from their very beginning.  Certainly, in the last century, bookstores have consistently stood up to attempts to censure thought, most notably in their resistance to banning books.  In addition, bookstores have opposed other attempts to restrict civil rights -- in the early part of this century many stores erased customer purchase records and stopped collecting that information due to concerns about over-reaching search warrants derived from the original Patriot Act.

Recently, Sherman Alexie canceled an event that he had scheduled with Malaprop's, for exactly the reasons you would expect.  While I applaud his convictions, both generally and in this specific case, I think that his situation is very different from Bruce Springsteen's.  We all know that bookselling has been suffering financial challenges for decades and we also know that independent bookstores are strong supporters of freedom of speech and other civil rights (with the exception of one type of specialty bookshop - I think you can guess what kind).  Author events are a hugely important source of income for bookstores.  They are also a critical part of a bookstore's mission to spread ideas and inspire readers and future writers.

I hope that other authors who might be considering canceling or refusing to do events in North Carolina would consider alternatives that would allow them to help overturn HB2 while still supporting the bookstores that are fellow-travelers in the fight for civil rights.  It seems to me that donating the royalty from each book sold to organizations opposed to HB2 would be a possibility; as would using the opportunity of a public event to speak out against HB2 and rally opposition.

It is ultimately the duty of each individual to decide what course their ethics demand and I support anyone who makes that sort of principled and ethical decision.  But I hope that my fellow professionals in the "business of words" will consider all the possibilities before making the decision to boycott North Carolina (or, for that matter, Mississippi).

Upcoming Events

SF in SF with authors Peter S. Beagle and Carter Scholz (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina, San Francisco) on Sunday, April 17th at 5:30 pm

InsideStorytime SUPERPOWERS at The Armory Club (1799 Mission Street @ 14th Street) on Thursday, April 21st at 7:00 pm

Paolo Bacigalupi, THE WATER KNIFE (Vintage, Trade Paperback, $16) on Friday, April 22nd at 7:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, EVERY HEART A DOORWAY (Tor.com, Trade Paperback, $17.99) on Saturday, April 23rd at 6:00 pm

Richard Kadrey, THE EVERYTHING BOX (Harper Voyager, Hardcover, $24.99) on Sunday, April 24th at 3:00 pm

Abby Smith Rumsey, WHEN WE ARE NO MORE: HOW DIGITAL MEMORY WILL SHAPE OUR FUTURE (Bloomsbury, Hardcover, $28.00) (at the Internet Archive, 300 Funston Street, San Francisco) on Tuesday, April 26th at 6:30 pm

And coming up in the summer, we'll have a drop-in signing with Joe Hill, and you can meet Amber Benson, Mira Grant, Sarah Kuhn, Charles Stross, Na'amen Tilahun, and many, many others!

March Bestsellers

1. ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders
4. FIRE TOUCHED by Patricia Briggs
5. MARKED IN FLESH by Anne Bishop
6. ARKWRIGHT by Allen Steele
7. QUANTUM NIGHT by Robert J. Sawyer
8. LADY MIDNIGHT by Cassandra Clare
10. MEDUSA’S WEB by Tim Powers

Mass Market Paperbacks
3. MADNESS IN SOLIDAR by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
4. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir
5. A RED ROSE CHAIN by Seanan McGuire
6. MOTHERSHIP by Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
8. VISION IN SILVER by Anne Bishop
9. ALLIANCE by SK Dunstall
10. THE LONG UTOPIA by Terry Pratchett

Trade Paperbacks
1. BORDERLINE by Mishell Baker
2. THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
3. UNITED STATES OF JAPAN by Peter Tieryas
4. UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
6. THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM by Victor LaVelle
7. THE FOLD by Peter Clines
8. WOMEN UP TO NO GOOD by Pat Murphy
9. TRANSREAL CYBERPUNK by Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling
10. LAGOON by Nnedi Okorafor

April News

* Overheard in the store:
"Asking me for wedding planning advice is like asking Patrick Stewart for hair-styling tips."

* "Batman Vs. Superman" has raked in a massive amount of money and a massive amount of criticism.  Rob Bricken has returned with his alway- hilarious FAQ review series to make you laugh whether you are staying as far away as possible or loved it and saw it twice:  http://io9.gizmodo.com/batman-v-superman-spoiler-faq-of-justice-1767720335

* For the price of a latte, you can support Litquake for a month!  Donors receive special perks and help with Litquake's great work.  More info here: http://www.litquake.org/donate-litquake

* The competition for Oddest Book Title of 2016 has many competitors, from an academic study of anuses, to a study of the ancient Greek art of divining the gods’ will by using intestines, to a study of cult film.  Want to know the titles?  Click here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/oddest-book-title-of-the-year-2016-cultural-history-of-the-anus-up-against-soviet-bus-stops-a6897221.html

* Uncanny Magazine is open to speculative poetry submissions until April 15th.  Write a SciFaiku or a villainous villanelle or Space Opera Sonnet and submit!  http://uncannymagazine.com/submissions/

* KILLER ROBOT ARMY ON ITS WAY! World leaders throw up their hands!  Billionaires and world leaders (which world leaders?  We'd like to see that attendee list!) met in January to discuss the fear of robots going to war.  http://www.albanydailystar.com/science/science-fiction-might-become-science-fact-killer-robot-army-fontana-daily-news-15706.html

* Sadly the Bay Area is losing another bookstore.  The Castro Books Inc. location, which hosted many wonderful events and has been a book-lover's haven, has lost their lease and will be closing in June.  https://www.hoodline.com/2016/03/castro-books-inc-loses-lease-will-close-in-mid-june

* In better Bay Area book news, Dog Eared Books is opening a Castro location where the much-beloved Different Light bookstore used to be.  http://hoodline.com/2016/03/dog-eared-books-to-open-castro-location-in-former-a-different-light-space

* Jeff Nichol’s new speculative film "Midnight Special", about a father, a son (who may not be what he seems), and friend escaping from a cult, is getting great reviews and good word of mouth from science-fiction fans.  http://substreammagazine.com/2016/04/midnight-special-review-2016/

* A list of the Top Ten Coolest Bookstores in San Francisco was released and we made the list!  Check out the other SF bookstores that are almost as cool as we are -- almost.  http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/california/articles/san-francisco-s-10-coolest-bookstores-you-should-visit/

* Calvin & Hobbes and "The Force Awakens" mashup!  Stop what you are doing and go read!

* Luc Besson gave us the visually stunning science fiction classic "The Fifth Element", and in the nearly twenty years since its release he’s kept busy making films.  Arguably none of his films since "The Fifth Element" have had the same lasting cultural impact, but some are hoping his new science-fiction film will be a return to form.  (Those of us who remember "Columbiana" and "Lucy" might have some more skepticism than hope at this point.) http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/luc-bessons-new-science-fiction-film-looks-bananas-and-we-love-it

* Simon Moya-Smith over at "Indian Country" takes the recent J.K. Rowling controversy and places it within the Western context where all Native Americans are dead or else living stereotypes.  A great article that looks at the larger picture while not ignoring the individual instances of Native racism that we participate in everyday.  http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/03/09/moya-smith-jk-rowlings-got-nothing-us-history-textbook-fiction-163705

* So the first season of the television adaptation of "The Expanse" has come to an end, and NPR is ready to crown it the best science-fiction television in a decade.  Adam Frank, a fan of the book series, lays out exactly why and how the adaptation worked so well for so many people.  http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/03/10/469626620/the-expanse-best-science-fiction-show-in-a-decade

* Speaking of "The Expanse", Andrew Liptak over at io9 gives us twelve Easter eggs in the first season that you might have missed.  (We haven’t looked them over yet only because we're not done with the whole season yet.  We know, we know, we are ashamed.)  http://io9.gizmodo.com/heres-12-easter-eggs-from-the-expanse-you-might-have-mi-1756115458

* Jesse Bullington has announced that he’s actually Alex Marshall (and vice-versa , we would assume).  (And any of you who haven’t read the fantastic "A Crown For Cold Silver", you should jump on that!)  http://jessebullington.com/announcement/

* Charles Stross is contemplating writing far-future SF and in preparation has assembled a list of cliches in a variety of sub-sections of far-future stuff.  A great list to check out if you plan to write some far-future SF -- avoid tropes, embrace them, or break them into pieces, whichever you prefer!  http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/03/towards-a-taxonomy-of-cliches-.html

* Nisi Shawl has worked up a post to give newbies a crash course in Black Science Fiction: both authors and specific creations of theirs.  She states that this is not a comprehensive list, but it stretches from 1859 - 2015 and is sure to introduce readers to many new names and stories.  http://www.fantasticstoriesoftheimagination.com/a-crash-course-in-the-history-of-black-science-fiction/

* Science fiction author Jack McDevitt recently had an asteroid named after him.  This inspired one fan to go on a bit of a research binge for asteroids named after their favorite authors.  Check out the list and star maps here: http://visiblesuns.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-asteroids-of-science-fiction.html

* The lawsuit between Writer Beware and Publish America/America Star Books has been settled.  Details are not that forthcoming (probably because of conditions in the settlement,) but here is Writer Beware’s announcement of the news:  http://www.victoriastrauss.com/2016/03/23/publishamerica-america-star-books-lawsuit-against-writer-beware-settled/

* Artist Robert Altbauer makes amazing fantasy maps on his site, but it’s his other illustrations that are catching everyone’s attention now.  In the style of medieval art,  Altbauer takes you to an alternate world where Lovecraft’s creations are a very real threat!  http://io9.gizmodo.com/lovecrafts-creatures-would-have-made-excellent-opponent-1768666924

* Friend of the bookstore, sponsor and Tachyon publisher Jacob Weisman was profiled recently in JWeekly.  Click here to read the interview, which covers Jacob’s personal history and connections between science fiction and Jewish culture.  http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/77238/small-s.f.-publisher-nurtures-jewish-sci-fi-tradition/

* We're so sorry we missed this -- it's the ultimate anti-social social event; a silent reading party!  Hopefully we can attend the next one: http://www.newsweek.com/silent-reading-parties-san-francisco-444787

Award News
* One of the SF Awards we look forward to every year is the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, which celebrates speculative fiction that explores and expands our ideas of gender.  Their winners and honor list always provide a great and diverse reading list.  This year the winners are a short story and a YA novel, and the honors list contains everything from a comic anthology, to short story, to novel, to graphic novel, to cartoon.  Check out the whole list here: http://tiptree.org/award/2015-james-tiptree-jr-award

* The Kitschies, which celebrate progressive, intelligent, and entertaining speculative fiction have announced their winners!  http://www.thekitschies.com/margaret-atwood-tade-thompson-jet-purdie-square-enix-and-patrick-ness-take-home-tentacles-from-the-kitschies/

* The finalists for the 28th Lambda Literary Awards have been announced, and not only do they have an entire LGBT SF/F/H category, but books in plenty of the other categories have speculative elements as well.  Check out the full list here:  http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/03/08/28th-annual-lambda-literary-award-finalists-announced/

* The winner and runners-up for the 2016 Jim Baen Memorial Short Story Contest have been announced --we hopefully will be able to read the winning story on Baen.com soon.  Announcement of the 2016 winners and lists with links to previous winners here: http://www.baen.com/baenmemorialaward

* The winners of the 2015 Aurealis Awards, which celebrate speculative fiction in Australia, have announced their winners: https://aurealisawards.org/2016/03/25/the-winners-of-the-2015-aurealis-awards/
For the shortlist/full nominee list, go here: https://aurealisawards.org/2016/02/17/announcement-2015-aurealis-awards-shortlists/

* The British Science Fiction Awards have announced their winners and one of the editor's personal favorites,  Aliette de Bodard, became the first author to win both best novel and best short story in the same year.  Check out the full list of winners here: http://www.bsfa.co.uk/bsfa-awards/

* The 2016 Seiun Awards, which celebrate SF published in Japan and translated into Japanese, have announced their finalists.  Locus has the nominees for translated works on their website and a link to the full list of nominees if you happen to read Japanese: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/03/2016-seiun-awards-nominees/

* The 2016 Auroras, which celebrate speculative fiction by Canadians in 2015, have announced their finalist, and the list looks great.  So many more things to read!  http://www.prixaurorawards.ca/2016-aurora-award-ballot/

March 15, 2016

A Note from Alan Beatts

Hi Folks.  This month I was going to give an in-depth explanation about our long-term plans for the businesses, especially focusing on the possible purchase of a building to house the store.  However, I have spent the last week out sick with the worst cold I have ever had the misfortune to experience.  I'm back now, mostly recovered, but I've so much pressing work to take care of due to my absence that I'm not going to have time to write much of anything.  Rather than delaying this newsletter even further, I'm going to postpone that explanation for a month.  So, look for that in the April newsletter, and wish me luck trying to get caught up between now and then.

Upcoming Events

Pwning Tomorrow, Today! at the Internet Archive (300 Funston Avenue  San Francisco  CA) with authors Cory Doctorow, Eileen Gunn, Carolyn Jewel, Ramez Naam, Annalee Newitz, Hannu Ranjaniemi, and Rudy Rucker on Saturday, March 19th at 2:00 pm

Glen Hirshberg, GOOD GIRLS (Tor Books, Hardcover, $26.99) on Saturday, March 26th at 3:00 pm

Brian Staveley, THE LAST MORTAL BOND (Tor Books, Hardcover, $28.99) on Tuesday, March 29th at 7:00 pm

Marie Brennan, IN THE LABYRINTH OF DRAKES (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99) on Saturday, April 9th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Peter S. Beagle and Carter Scholz (American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina, San Francisco, CA) on Sunday, April 17th at 6:30 pm

InsideStorytime SUPERPOWERS at The Make Out Room (The Armory Club. 1799 Mission Street @ 14th) with Charlie Jane Anders, Elwin Cotman, Daryl Gregory, guest MC Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, Jessica May Lin, and Seanan McGuire on Thursday, April 21st at 7:00 pm

Paolo Bacigalupi, THE WATER KNIFE (Vintage, Trade Paperback, $16.00) on Friday, April 22nd at 7:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, EVERY HEART A DOORWAY (Tor.com, Hardcover, $17.99) on Saturday, April 23rd at 6:00 pm

Richard Kadrey, THE EVERYTHING BOX (Harper Voyager, Hardcover, $24.99) on Sunday, April 24th at 3:00 pm

And coming up in the summer, we'll welcome Mary Robinette Kowal, Charles Stross, and many, many others!

February Bestsellers

1. ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders
5. MORNING STAR by Pierce Brown
6. BANDS OF MOURNING by Brandon Sanderson
7. KINGFISHER by Patricia A. McKillip
9. POSEIDON’S WAKE by Alastair Reynolds
10. CALAMITY by Brandon Sanderson

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir
2. INTO THE MAELSTROM by David Drake & John Lambshead
3. THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison
4. THE THOUSAND NAMES by Django Wexler
5. FLASH - ARCHFORM: BEAUTY VOL. 2 by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
6. THE TERRANS by Jean Johnson
8. THE LONG UTOPIA by Terry Pratchett
9. STEAL THE SKY by Megan E. O’Keefe
10. MIDNIGHT TAXI TANGO by Daniel Jose Older

Trade Paperbacks
3. CITY OF BLADES by Robert Jackson Bennett
4. VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab

March News

* Harper Lee, author of the classic novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and the related work GO SET A WATCHMAN has passed away: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/arts/harper-lee-dies.html

* In other sad news, Umberto Eco, the Italian novelist whose career spanned almost every genre, has also passed away.  Although he was most famous for the historical mystery THE NAME OF THE ROSE, his work included fiction, essays, art criticism and more.

* Local author and Borderlands favorite Seanan McGuire had an adventure with an owl that is completely hilarious and could only happen to her.  Read the Storify of her amazing Tweets here: https://storify.com/lilrongal/seanan-s-epic-owl-adventure .  Caution: not-safe-for-work language.

* A recent episode of Wired’s Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast interviewed authors Nisi Shawl, Nalo Hopkinson and Sunil Patel about diversity in speculative fiction: http://www.wired.com/2016/02/geeks-guide-diversity-destroy-scifi/

* For those of us who have always longed to summon the Elder Gods through our laptops, there is now a font exclusively for that! http://www.neatorama.com/neatogeek/2014/05/12/A-Cthulhuian-Font-You-Can-Download-And-Use-To-Summon-Strange-Beings/

* Congratulations to C.J. Cherryh, whose writing career has spanned almost four decades, multiple subgenres, and numerous awards -- she has been named a SFWA grand master! http://www.sfwa.org/2016/02/35732/

* In, WHAT THE!? . . . okay? . . . news: The movie crossover plan you thought was just a joke is moving forward; merging the Men In Black movie franchise with the 21 Jump Street movie franchise.  Is it just us, or does this sound like it might actually work?  http://variety.com/2016/film/news/23-jump-street-men-in-black-james-bobin-1201715020/

* The short post-apocalyptic film "King Ripple" is a gorgeous and terrifying tale penned by science fiction scribe Josh Malerman and directed by Luke Jaden: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/watch-post-apocalyptic-short-film-king-ripple-with-keith-stanfield-20160303

* Teleportation may be here soon(ish)!  No news on if the method will just kill you and create a identical copy at your destination like many theorize; I’m sure they’ll mention it when you get there.   http://zeenews.india.com/news/science/star-trek-science-fiction-turns-science-fact_1862604.html

* In sad news for critics and reviewers (and also Torrenters worldwide), HBO has decided that no one will be seeing any of Game of Thrones season 6 until the premiere date.  Collider breaks it down: http://collider.com/game-of-thrones-season-6-premiere-screeners/

* A lovely article on the first science fiction author to win a MacArthur Genius Grant -- Octavia Butler.  It contains some history about her and a link to Clockshop, which is the non-profit doing a year-long retrospective on this shy and hugely talented author: http://www.scpr.org/programs/offramp/2016/03/03/46914/remembering-unsung-science-fiction-hero-genius-gra/

* N.K. Jemisin provides some great reviews for the New York Times, including one of Sofia Samatar’s new novel: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/books/review/on-the-edge-of-gone-by-corinne-duyvis-and-more.html?_r=0

* Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been championing the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s "Sandman" into a film for years.  He brought in Gaiman as executive producer and seemed to be a real fan of the graphic novels.  His stepping away from the project does not feel like a good thing.  Read his whole statement: http://sciencefiction.com/2016/03/06/joseph-gordon-levitt-departs-sandman/

* For a couple years now there’s been talk of bringing Joe Lansdale’s classic Hap & Leonard to the small screen, and it’s finally happened on Sundance!  Starring James Purefoy, Michael K. Williams, and Christina Hendricks in a six-episode miniseries, you can catch the first two episodes online for free: http://www.sundance.tv/series/hap-and-leonard

* Inverse has an interesting theory that very soon the superhero genre will be consumed whole by the science-fiction genre, as real-life fears begin to parallel those themes more than the military imbalance that fuels superhero themes.  https://www.inverse.com/article/12012-science-fiction-will-consume-the-superhero-industry-and-become-the-genre-to-beat

* Filmmakers around the world survive without the movie industry of Hollywood, or even the other revenue streams that exist for indie films, and they do this through determination and hustling.  That is how Nicholas Attin completed what he calls Trinidad & Tobago’s first science fiction thriller film: "Tomb".  Read about what it took to get it made and check out the first trailer here: http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/watch-trailer-for-tomb-a-rare-sci-fi-thriller-feature-film-from-trinidad-tobago-20160304

* Speaking of resourceful filmmakers, congratulations to Arwen Curry, creator of the documentary "The Worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin," which has been fully funded by a combination of a hugely successful Kickstarter and a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  We're anxiously looking forward to the finished film!  [Assistant Editor's Note: In an amusing bonus, Borderlands' newsletter editor Na'amen Tilahun has a tiny appearance in the film of which he wasn't even aware.]

* J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series has achieved a level of success rarely seen -- movies, plays, encyclopedias, theme parks, and even more to come.  Newsweek takes a look at how Rowling kept the "cult" of Harry Potter alive: http://www.newsweek.com/how-jk-rowling-kept-potter-cult-alive-433628

* An NPR piece from January focuses on Finnish authors who are finally having some of their works translated into English.  These include Johanna Sinisalo, whose novel THE CORE OF THE SUN was published in Finland over three years ago.  http://www.npr.org/2016/01/24/463878369/finnish-authors-heat-up-the-speculative-fiction-world

* The Daily Beast has an in-depth interview with Samuel Delany on the subject of art, specifically cover art.  He discusses his own covers, his favorite Tolkien covers, and how much cover art matters (or doesn’t) in speculative fiction.  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/03/05/sci-fi-hero-samuel-delany-s-outsider-art.html

Award News

* The 2015 Nebula Award nominees have been announced.  Check out the full list here: https://www.sfwa.org/2016/02/2015-nebula-awards-nominees-announced/

* The Horror Writers' Association has decided to honor both Alan Moore and George A. Romero with Lifetime Achievement Awards.  More information here: http://horror.org/hwa-names-alan-moore-george-a-romero-as-2016-lifetime-achievement-award-winners/

* The Kitschies, which celebrate progressive, intelligent, and entertaining speculative fiction, have announced their nominees:

* The 23rd Annual Spectrum Award nominations (with the artwork!) are available to look at here: http://fleskpublications.com/blog/2016/02/29/spectrum-23-awards-nominations/

* The Bram Stoker Awards final ballot has been announced.  The full list is here: http://horror.org/the-bram-stoker-awards-final-ballot/

* The Norma K. Hemming Award (which is given every year to a work that explores themes of race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability in speculative fiction first published in Australia or by an Australian citizen,) has announced its shortlist: http://www.asff.org.au/hemming-award-2016-shortlist.htm

February 09, 2016


by Alan Beatts

Last month I announced that we had reached our goal of 300 sponsors and would remain open for at least another year.  I also explained that, because the sponsorship program had been so successful, I have raised our sights beyond merely remaining open until our lease ran out in five years.  Our sponsors have been so constant and enthusiastic that I'm not really concerned about the near-term viability of that model to support us in the face of mandatory wage increases.  Of course, something could change but overall our situation seems stable for the next few years.

With that concern addressed, I've been looking forward at the next major concern -- what we're going to do when our lease expires in 2021.  Given the current rental market in San Francisco and the historical trends (even during hard times economically), we will not be able to find a space that we can afford and that will house the store in 2021.  So, we are either going to need to move out of San Francisco, or we need to come up with another plan. Moving is unattractive, but I'll keep that as a backup.  My preferred plan is to buy a building to house the store (and, perhaps, similar businesses -- more on that next month).

If we're going to do that, we need to raise a bunch of money for the down payment.  I've done the math, and I'm sure that we can cover the mortgage, maintenance, and taxes with what we currently pay in rent.  But we've got to have that down payment.  I have many ideas about how to raise that money and I'll pursue them all, but there is one thing happening already that's helping a lot -- the sponsorships.  Right now we have more than 500 sponsors.  Last year we had 844.  If we can continue getting many more sponsors than we need to cover the higher payroll, we can make it most of the way to our goal.  And so, despite our success in reaching the 300 sponsors we needed to say open, if you've been considering becoming a sponsor, please do.  To perhaps help you with your decision, here are a few reasons to become a sponsor.

1)  You believe that the continued existence of physical bookstores is important.
The most common cause of bookstore closures is rent increases.  In addition, bookselling has always been an only-marginally-profitable business.  More and more people are choosing to live in urban areas (check out my article about that http://borderlands-books.blogspot.com/2015/08/urban-conservation.html ) and that is increasing rents in all cities in the US.  Bookstores, especially specialty bookstores, need a minimum population density to be viable (especially in these days of Amazon and ebooks, people are unlikely to drive 50 miles to shop) so it is harder for them to survive outside cities.  That shifting population trend combined with the limitations inherent in bookselling means that it is going to get harder and harder for bookstores to locate in cities and, by extension, it is going to make it harder for them to survive.

Upcoming Events

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

Meet Arwen Curry, filmmaker - "Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin" - Sunday, February 14th at 3:00 pm

A.M. Dellamonica, DAUGHTER OF NO NATION (Tor Books, Hardcover, $26.99), and Randy Henderson, BIGFOOTLOOSE AND FINN FANCY FREE (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99) - Saturday, February 20th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Charlie Jane Anders and Lisa Goldstein, Sunday, February 21st at 5:30 pm

V.E. Schwab, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99), with special guest Stephanie Kuehn - Saturday, February 27th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Daryl Gregory and Hannu Rajaniemi - Sunday, March 6th at 5:30 pm

Mishell Baker, BORDERLINE (THE ARCADIA PROJECT) (Saga Press, Trade Paperback, $15.99), and Seanan McGuire, CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY (DAW, Mass Market Paperback, $7.99) on Saturday, March 12th at 5:00 pm

MWA Northern California Meet and Greet - Sunday, March 13th at 3:00 pm