February 06, 2021

Haight St. Update

January is not a quiet month for small businesses.  There's all the catch-up to do after the holidays on top of all the work to close out the books for the past year, along with getting tax information prepared (since Borderlands is a corporation, our tax deadline is a month early, on March 15th).  On top of that, mid-month I took a run up to Seattle to buy a book collection (more about that in my Office Piece a bit further down in this newsletter).  Long and short of it was that it was not a productive month at the new building.  

We did make some solid inroads on finishing up the last bits of sheetrock for the bathroom but, beyond that, all that I managed to get done was hang the bathroom door. That was a job that should have taken an hour or two, tops, but instead took closer to a day and a half.  The door that I was putting in is essentially temporary.  It's enough to pass inspection and work perfectly well but . . . it's a cheap hollow-core door.  Due to the thickness of the bathroom walls, I had to special order it but I wasn't really expecting any surprises.  But, that door was _made_ of surprises.

The first thing was that there was a gap at the top of the frame.  One of the nails had split the wood and so the joint wasn't tight.  Before hanging the door, I pulled the offending nail and closed up the gap.  I figured that would be it.  Once I got the door up, however, I discovered that the door had been fitted correctly _with_ the gap so now it was too tight and was sticking at the top.  Next step was to plane the side of the door to make it narrower and fit properly.  That job done, the door closed but was a little wobbly.  I checked the hinges.

Four of the eight screws in the top hinge were loose.  I tightened them and now, guess what, there was a gap at the top of the door where I had planed it.  Oh well, not a big thing (or a big gap - the door would have needed to be planed anyway just . . . not quite so much).  Onward!

From the Office

by Alan Beatts

My, it's much easier to focus on writing (or anything else) this month compared to early January.  That was one very weird time in the US.  Things are still pretty weird, I grant you, but the improvement is notable.  I hope that you are all doing well and staying safe.

We're one month into the year and our annual sponsorship renewal process.  As I mentioned last month, we have been dependent on our sponsorship program to offset higher payroll costs since 2015.  Each year 300 or more people sponsor us with a $100 contribution.  That process has not only allowed Borderlands to remain in operation but was the basis for the direct borrowing that allowed us to buy the building that will be our future home on Haight St.  Due to the economic effects of last year, moreso than ever before, sponsorships are critical for our continued operation.  If you've never been a sponsor before, now would be a great time to start.  You can sign up on-line here - https://borderlands-books.com/v2/become-sponsor/, come in person, or call us to sign-up via credit card.  We're even happy to take checks via mail (if you're going to go the mail route, please include your full name, phone number, email address and mailing address).

If you'd like to know more about the history of sponsorship and the benefits associated with it, take a look here - https://borderlands-books.com/v2/sponsorships/

February News

* We're very sorry to report that author and editor Storm Constantine has died at age 64: https://www.sfcrowsnest.info/storm-constantine-fantasy-author-passes-away-aged-64-news/

* Someone created a computer graphic of what a Culture ship, from Iain Banks' novels, might look like: https://vimeo.com/184041325

* I completely lost myself in this totally fascinating (Very geeky! Very academic!) blog series by historian Bret Devereaux, excoriating George R. R. Martin for his portrayal of the Dothraki.  (Thanks to Fazal for letting us know about this one!): https://acoup.blog/2020/12/04/collections-that-dothraki-horde-part-i-barbarian-couture/.  

* Thanks to Jordan for letting us know about this extensive (and in-progress) Historical Science Fiction Dictionary: https://sfdictionary.com/. (From https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/26/arts/science-fiction-dictionary.html)

* Legend Ursula K. Le Guin gets a postage stamp! https://www.cnet.com/news/pioneering-sci-fi-author-ursula-k-le-guin-gets-her-own-us-postage-stamp/

January Bestsellers

 Hardcovers
1. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
3. Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
4. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
5. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
6. Ring Shout by P. Dejeli Clark
7. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
8. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
9. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
10. Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
3. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
4. The Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
5. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
6. The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu
7. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
8. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
9. Exhalation by Ted Chiang
10. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. Neuromancer by William Gibson
3. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
4. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
5. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
6. The Thousand Names by Django Wexler
7. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
8. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
9. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
10. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

January 08, 2021

Editor's Note

by Jude Feldman

Well, welcome to 2021.  At this point, all I can say is that I'm fervently hoping that you're all doing and feeling as well as possible, and that the entirety of the rest of the year is extraordinarily boring.

A few quick reminders and updates for y'all -- first, we're currently open to the public from 11 am - 6 pm, seven days a week.  We have a maximum capacity of 10 people in the store at once, and masks are required for entry.  We'll also ask you to sanitize your hands on your way in.

If you'd rather not come into the store, there are other options.  We're always happy to do mail orders -- search our inventory online here: https://www.biblio.com/bookstore/borderlands-books-san-francisco or just call us directly and we'll be glad to send you whatever you'd like.

We're also doing curbside pickup, and we even have a specifically reserved parking space for it just outside the store -- call us and we'll work out the details and cheerfully bring your books out to you when you arrive.

As far as the new building on Haight Street -- as you can imagine, it's been pretty difficult to get anything substantial done.  We have made some progress on finishing the exterior of the bathroom (did I mention that, yay, we have a bathroom?!) and also gotten some planning work done, but concrete progress has been more elusive.  As with so much else right now, it's a matter of staying focused and doing the best we can.  We'll get there. We appreciate your support and faith.

From the Office

by Alan Beatts

As I write this, it is the evening of Wednesday, January 6th.  It's hard to think that anything I've got to say has any significance in light of what has been (and is) happening in Washington, DC.  But, this is going to pass and we'll move on (though, like much of what 2020 brought us, I don't think we'll be "moving on" in the same way that we were).  So, please forgive the comparative triviality of what follows.

The last year has been crushingly hard for most small businesses and Borderlands was no exception.  Compared to 2019, our sales were down by 45%. That's a really hard hit for a bookstore.  On the other hand, several things were in our favor; we were among the lucky businesses to get a PPP loan from the SBA (which looks to be completely forgivable), we were able to make some changes to the schedule that reduced payroll (without any layoffs), and we have a wonderfully loyal set of customers.

But, the biggest thing we had going for us was that we are not a restaurant or, gods help them, a bar or music venue.  I cannot imagine what the owners of that sort of business have been going through.  Compared to them, at least we've been able to be _open_ through most of the past nine months.

One other thing that has been an immeasurable help over the past year is our sponsor program - https://borderlands-books.com/v2/sponsorships/. It came about in 2015, when I planned to close Borderlands because of the upcoming increases to San Francisco's minimum wage.  Though I enthusiastically support a higher minimum wage, the economics of the business meant that Borderlands wasn't going to be viable if we had to increase wages by almost 50% over three years.  Rather than hold on as long as we could, I decided it was best to close once it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to make it.

January News

* The amazing Nalo Hopkinson has been named the 37th recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award by SFWA: https://locusmag.com/2020/12/hopkinson-named-sfwa-grand-master/

* We regret to report that legendary author and editor Ben Bova has died at age 88:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/13/books/ben-bova-dies.html

* Comrade! Come live on this extremely modern Russian cyberfarm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMX0pCs5-n0

* As Scott said, "cute so quickly devolves into terrifying,"; the Boston Dynamics robots dance, and this is completely unrelated to the cyberfarm link above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn3KWM1kuAw&feature=youtu.be

* "Rolling Stone" Magazine (!) talks to Kim Stanley Robinson: https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/the-ministry-for-the-future-interview-kim-stanley-robinson-1101738/

December Bestsellers

 Hardcovers
1. Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
2. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
3. Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline
4. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
5. Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
6. A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
7. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
8. Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
9. The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow
10. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2. The Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky
3. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
4. The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
5. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
6. The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow
7. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
8. Aurora Rising by Alastair Reynolds
9. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
10. Rejoice, a Knife to the Heart by Steven Erickson

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Dune by Frank Herbert
2. Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
3. Neuromancer by William Gibson
4. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
5. Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
6. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
7. Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
8. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
9. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
10. The Thousand Names by Django Wexler

November 16, 2020

From the Office

by Alan Beatts

Despite the strangeness and historic elements of 2020, it's actually been pretty boring in a day-to-day way.  I don't know if that matches your experience but, around Borderlands, it's mostly been The Usual.  Or, perhaps I should say, the "new" usual.  Sales are slow-ish but we're managing and otherwise we're just plugging along.  Don't get me wrong, "plugging along" is just great, given how things might be, but it means I don't have a whole lot of news for you all.  One or two things, sure, but there really hasn't been much excitement around the shop.

Which is just _fine_ with me.  Absolutely.  In 2020 excitement has rarely, if ever, been a good thing.

Before I get to the store news, such as it is, I'm going to make a (thankfully rare) public service announcement.  I had been on the fence about mentioning this but today a friend who's a doctor with the SF Department of Public Health stopped by the shop.  She was a valuable resource for us in March and April while we were figuring out how to manage the pandemic and, as you'd expect, we started chatting about the current state of affairs.  That conversation made up my mind.  So, here goes -

September News

* Overheard in the store:
"We're really happy because, Space Vampires."
"Now everyone's wearing masks -- no more facial recognition software for you, Surveillance State!"
"'Sexy Sorting Hat' was a Halloween costume that just didn't fly."
[Customer holding a copy of DUNE]: "Do you have a less-thick version of this?"

* We're sorry to report the death of incredibly popular fantasy author Terry Goodkind, who passed away in September at the age of 72: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/02/books/terry-goodkind-dead.html

* RIP Richard A. Lupoff; writer, fan, Edgar Rice Burroughs expert, dear heart and old friend. https://locusmag.com/2020/10/richard-a-lupoff-1935-2020/

* With regret we report the death of amazing author and lovely person Rachel Caine at age 58. https://preview.mailerlite.com/x6r7e1

* A bit belated, but still stunning -- watch nearly 11,000 lightning strikes spark the awful mid-August Bay Area fires via a compilation of more than 400 satellite images: https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/08/20/watch-heres-what-10800-bay-area-lightning-strikes-sparking-367-wildfires-looked-like-from-space/amp/

* 15 recent sci-fi books that have shaped the genre: https://www.polygon.com/21516173/best-new-science-fiction-books-scifi-last-15-years