April 01, 2007

Notes from a DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

I've got something for everyone this month.  Science fiction, horror, zombies . . . A-list Oscar-winning films . . .Direct-to-video . . .Austrian cult films . . . Giant monsters . . . You name it, I'm covering it.

The big title of the month is the Academy-Award winning science fiction dystopia, "Children of Men".  This one was simply awesome.  I was impressed by the remarkable performances, gritty near-future world view, and the wry and insightfully "science fictional" look at government oppression and revolutionary movements -- all carefully shepherded by the sure hand of its director, Alfonso Cuaron.  Cuaron previously brought us "Y Tu Mama Tambien," and the third Harry Potter movie, but this film catapults him into the realm of the most exciting young directors around.  If you haven't seen this one yet, you are in for a treat.

Speaking of exciting young filmmakers on the fringe of science fiction, Darron Arronofski's time traveling science fiction mess/masterpiece "The Fountain" won't be out on DVD until May, but as a warm-up, his first two films, "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" are getting a double feature DVD release this month, so if you haven't added them to your collection yet, now is your chance.

March Bestsellers

1. YOU SUCK! - A LOVE STORY by Christopher Moore
2. FOR A FEW DEMONS MORE by Kim Harrison
3. SHADOWPLAY by Tad Williams
5. COMMAND DECISION by Elizabeth Moon
6. UN LUN DUN by China Mieville
7. THE TERROR by Dan Simmons
9. SIXTY DAYS AND COUNTING by Kim Stanley Robinson

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. THE SCENT OF SHADOWS by Vicki Pettersson
2. ALTERED CARBON by Richard Morgan
3. PATTERN RECOGNITION by William Gibson tied with THE SCAR by China Mieville
5. ACCELERANDO by Charles Stross
6. WAR OF THE FLOWERS by Tad Williams
7. OLYMPOS by Dan Simmons
8. SWORDSPOINT by Ellen Kushner
9.  LEGENDS 2: DRAGON, SWORD AND KING edited by Robert Silverberg
10. OLD MAN'S WAR by John Scalzi

Trade Paperbacks
1. SNAKE AGENT by Liz Williams
2. BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR edited by Johnathan Strahan (Night Shade Books) tied with X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS by Mario Acevedo
3. NIGHTWATCH by Sergei Lukyanenko
4. OVERCLOCKED by Cory Doctorow
5. A DIRTY JOB by Christopher Moore tied with HARDWIRED by Walter John Williams

Origin of the Bookstore, Part the Sixth - Off-Site Bookselling, or "Are You a Band?"

For the next seven months we'll be doing a special feature each month in honor of Borderlands' upcoming 10th Anniversary (November 3rd, 2007). We'll share some stories about what Borderlands is and how it got that way.

by Jude Feldman

Borderlands has done (and continues to do) many off-site events, including our well-loved Movie Nights at the Variety Preview Room, the Sonoma County Book Fair in Santa Rosa, and the World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow two years ago, just to name a few.  This installment of "Origin" focuses on a few aspects of what it is like to create a miniature version of the store, someplace else entirely.

When the staff travels to a convention or other off-site event that involves airplane transport, we frequently pack the books that we will be selling in large gray trunks.  Think of a heavy-duty plastic version of a surplus Army trunk and you've got the idea.  Years and years ago, Alan painstakingly modified these trunks with foam and cardboard padding, to make anything packed inside one neigh on indestructible, even in the hands of baggage handlers.  An amusing side effect of traveling with these "road cases" is that the traveling staff is continually and repeatedly mistaken for a band.  In airports from Seattle to Wisconsin to Kansas City, perfect strangers have approached us and asked "What band are you in?!"  Several of these people flatly refused to believe that we were booksellers, and what a surreal situation that was: Them: "C'mon, just tell me!" Us: "We're actually booksellers.  There are books in these trunks." Them: "No, seriously -- I won't tell anyone if you want it kept secret!  What is the name of the band?"  Us: "No, really, we run a bookstore!  None of us plays an instrument at all."  Them: "Aw, I wouldn'ta told anyone.  You SUCK!"  Us: <helpless shrugs>.

Borders and B&N Followup

by Alan Beatts

Two months ago I made some comments in this column about holiday sales at Borders Books and Barnes & Noble.  Two readers wrote very thoughtful emails to me regarding what I'd said.  I've been meaning to address their thoughts here for the past two months but for one reason and another I haven't had the chance.

However, first a brief recap is probably in order -- I noted in the January issue that sales at both Borders and B&N were down compared to last year and I went on to note that our sales were up.  I was obviously pleased by this news because both companies engage in business practices that I think are distasteful (though to be fair, B&N is a worse offender than Borders).  Another reason for my pleasure was the way that those two companies have provided the economic pressure that has driven may non-chain stores out of business.  In retrospect I can see that my tone was a bit gloating, despite my attempt to make it otherwise.

In response one reader, who had been a partner at a bookshop that had to close, wrote -

". . . I sadly went to work as a manager at Barnes & Noble.  It's true B&N is like the evil empire, they are the Starbucks of Bookstores.  But still it is a living, and albeit sometimes a stressful and scablike one . . . it is a living.