by Alan Beatts
Given some of my recent comments here and elsewhere, it will probably come as no surprise that we're opening a mystery section at Borderlands. What might be a surprise, however, is how fast we're doing it. As of today, we've got 144 feet of shelves set aside for hardcovers and large format paperbacks as well as 94 feet for small format (i.e. "mass market") paperbacks. That works out as room for, roughly, 1700 hardcovers and 1500 paperbacks.
Of course, the shelves aren't quite full yet but we've already got almost 1000 individual titles in stock and there are more coming in almost every day. By the end of the month, I expect to have more than 1500 on hand and the section will continue to grow from there. My goal is to have as good a selection of mysteries, thrillers, and similar titles as we do of SF and fantasy by the end of the summer.
And it doesn't stop there. My long term plan involves doing some remodeling that will add 300 square feet of space to our sales floor and allow room for even more shelving. With luck I'll have that done by the end of the year. Right now I haven't finished deciding what I'm going to do with all that extra space but continuing to expand our mystery section is certainly part of it. The space we have now in part comes from some rearranging we've done which was made possible due to a very kind gift of some shelves from our friends at the Other Change of Hobbit. We made the rest of the space by doing some serious sorting of our horror and used paperback sections (more about that in a bit).
To say that we're all really excited about this is an understatement. Most of our staff enjoy mysteries and some of us (myself, Jude and Jeremy especially) really love them. For years we didn't do much with them because we were located less than a mile from the outstanding San Francisco Mystery Bookshop. I figured that it was better for us to concentrate on SF, fantasy and horror and let them concentrate on their specialty. But sadly that store closed in 2011, leaving San Francisco without a mystery bookshop. The following year, the equally marvelous M Is For Mystery Bookstore in San Mateo closed as well, which meant that the entire peninsula was without a mystery bookshop.
So, since moving into that genre won't hurt one of our fellow San Francisco bookshops and it seems there must be a bunch of readers who need a store to serve them (not to mention authors and publishers who need a place to do events), it looks like time for us to start selling even more books that we love.
And, if you don't mind, I'd appreciate it if you could help us do that. First off, please spread the word. Let your friends know that we're selling mysteries, by word of mouth, Twitter, Facebook or whatever sort of social media is your thing. If you are a blogger or have a newsletter, please put the word out there as well. Best of all, bring your friends to the shop. (You know, those friends who have been giving you grief for years 'cause you prefer spaceships and dragons to dangerous dames and quaint English towns). The only caveat is this -- please make it clear that we're not even close, yet, to the selection that we're aiming for. So, if your I've-read-it-all-and-got-the-T-shirt friend is disappointed that we don't have the most recent title from a British micro-press, just ask them to give us a little bit of time.
Second, give us suggestions. We started off with classics, our personal favorites, and recent bestsellers. I think it's a pretty good selection but I know there is much more that we should be carrying. Ever since we opened, our customers have always been the people who most often lead us to great but perhaps overlooked gems. Your advice is invaluable and we'd love to have it. If you've got an author or novel that you think we should have, please drop Jude a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. And remember, we can get almost anything that is in print in the UK as well as the US.
Finally, when it comes to mysteries, I want to be a good member of that community just as we are in our other specialties. If you're a member of a book-club, writer's group or other organization focused on mysteries, thrillers, suspense or associated genres and there is something we can do to support your people, please let me know. Of course, I plan to host lots of events with authors in much the same way we do for SF, fantasy and horror.
So, please stop by and check out our newest addition. If you're an avid mystery reader, please let us know if you think we're missing anything. And, if you don't usually read mysteries or thrillers, maybe you'll let us make a suggestion. There is some really wonderful stuff in that field, both classics (personally, I think that Dashiell Hammett is one of the greatest American writers ever, in any genre) and newer work (Barbara Hambly's A Free Man Of Color is marvelous, for example). Regardless of what you usually enjoy, I'm confident we can turn you on to something new, just as we've done for years with science fiction, fantasy and horror.