January 01, 2011

Quite a Year

by Alan Beatts

Hi.  I'm back.

It's been almost a year since I've written anything for this newsletter, which coincides with the opening of Borderlands Cafe.  As I suspect many of you know, 2010 was a very busy year and one that, despite a number of nice things occurring, I'm not sad at all to see the backside of.  During the year I had to cut most of the non-vital frills off of my work and personal life, in some cases with a chainsaw.  One of the casualties was this monthly column.  But, things are better now and, though I'm not promising to have time every month to write here, I'm going to try to do so.  But I make no promises about the quality or cleverness of what I'll produce.

Speaking of 2010, some of the high points, both personally and professionally, were very nice indeed.  In no particular order:

I was asked to serve on the board of the Locus Foundation (which, after the death of Locus' founder, Charles Brown, was created to continue to publish Locus Magazine as well as act as an educational organization within our field).  I was pleased and flattered that they were interested in getting me involved.  I'm very much looking forward to working with such a fine group of people.

Our new business, Borderlands Cafe, has been going for just over a year and is moving along very smoothly for a new business.  Though not profitable yet, I have high hopes that we might turn that corner this year -- which is damn fast for a new business.  Much of the credit for that goes to the phenomenal staff that work there.  They are, in their own way, as hard-working and talented a group of people as the staff at the bookstore, which is high praise indeed.  We've received some very nice coverage from the press, most notably a lovely mention in the travel section of the New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/travel/05SanFran.html?pagewanted=all>.

Business at the bookstore was steady throughout 2010 and we managed to beat the national average for bookstore sales for both the holiday season and the year as a whole.  I'm still looking at the growing popularity of ebooks with great concern but, at least for now, we're doing fine.

One of the worst lows of last year also led to one of the highs.  In the spring Ripley, Borderlands well known store cat, passed away from cancer.  Losing her was extremely painful for everyone at Borderlands as well as many of our customers but it was especially agonizing for Jude and me.

After some of the shock had worn off, Jude and I noticed that Ash, our other cat, was acting a bit strangely.  Since Ash had never been an only cat, we decided to get her some company in the form of Frost, the newest addition to Borderlands.  Frost is also a sphinx (i.e. hairless) and is Ash's niece.  She's also quite the kitten, even though she's heading well towards adulthood now.  Not only has she been a great companion to Ash but having her around has made losing Ripley less acutely painful.

That's about all I have time for in terms of a sketch of last year.  It was a hard one but the seeds planted then are showing all the signs of bearing a good harvest this year.

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