February 07, 2015

What's Going to Happen Now?

Now that everyone knows that we're closing, I'm sure that people are wondering about the details of how the process is going to work.  But, before I get into that, I want to apologize on my part and on part of the staff for having been deliberately deceptive.  The decision to close was made in mid-November, but we couldn't let anyone know about it until just recently. There were a several reasons for that but the biggest by far was that I was concerned that our suppliers would get nervous and be difficult about continuing to honor our credit limits.  As you can imagine, something like that happening right before the holiday season would have been very bad for us.  The other major reason we waited was that we knew that there would be many, many questions to answer as well as a huge amount of work that would start as soon as we let people know.  We waited until we were past the holiday season and until we'd had time to get all of our plans in place.

Although the reasons for keeping this to ourselves were good and necessary ones, it has pained me and the rest of the staff to imply by our actions and our words that everything was fine and that we were going to continue to do business as usual for the foreseeable future.  We are all very sorry that circumstances required it and we hope that you'll understand why it was necessary.

Our general plan is to sell all of the store's inventory along with most of the bookshelves and other fixtures.  Once we're done with that (which will not be later than March 31st and could be sooner), I'll be looking for good places to donate or sell any books that are left over.  At that point the bookstore will be mostly empty and we'll start using it as extra seating and meeting space for the cafe (which will be staying open until at least October, 2015).  I'm not exactly sure how long we'll be using the old bookstore space in that way.  I've got a few ideas of things we might do in the bookstore (pop-up retail space for local folks trying to get their businesses started is one thing that I'm considering) but I'll be playing that part by ear.  I also might be open to renting the space out for special events or, possibly, sub-leasing the entire space.  That said, please don't contact me now about sub-leasing and so forth.  Those decisions won't be made until late March at the earliest.

Once the bookselling part of the business has stopped, all of the bookstore staff (with the possible exception of Jude) will stop working for me.  I've had a few conversations with them about what their future plans and desires are but no-one has come to any final conclusions yet.  Once people do, I'll give you an update.  Some things that I do know are:

Na'amen and Cary have both been working at other bookstores for months.  Na'amen works at The Booksmith on Haight St. and Cary works at Book Passage at the Ferry Building.  Na'amen is, of course, continuing to write.  If you want a laugh, ask him about Twilight the next time you see him.  Cary has said she is considering returning to her previous profession as an accountant but I suspect she'll keep bookselling on the side even if that happens.

Jeremy is continuing his editorial work at Skyhorse / Start Media (the current owners of Night Shade Books).  Right now he's very excited about the start of a new trilogy by Neal Asher set in the Polity universe, the first volume of which will be coming out very shortly.

Scott has fallen in love with bookselling in the worst way and he's darn good at it.  Based on some brief conversations I've had with him, I expect he's going to be looking for work at another bookstore.

All the staff at the cafe will be staying, so don't expect any big changes there.

What follows here is a chronological outline of what will be happening when.  Of course, a process like this is unpredictable by its very nature so things may happen early or late or not at all.

Already Happening
The first steps towards closing were taken in January when we stopped buying used books and started thinning down the new book inventory.  If it has seemed to you, over the past few weeks, that the shelves were less crowded -- you were right.  Over the next few weeks we will still be ordering new books but we will be continuing to reduce our inventory as time goes on. We will not be buying used books at any time in the future.

Starting Immediately
Our first priority moving forward needs to be selling as much of our inventory as possible. Consequently, we will not be able to place books on hold.  If you have any books on hold at the store right now, please come in to pick them up as soon as possible.  Any remaining hold books will be returned to inventory by February 11th.

For now, we will be happy to place special orders as usual, but payment will need to be in advance.  Of course, if for some reason we cannot get your book, we will give you a full refund.

If you have store credit or a gift certificate, you are welcome to use it now or wait for a bit. We will be accepting store credit and gift certificates as long as we're still selling books.  However, store credit and gift certificates cannot be used to purchase bookshelves, fixtures, or other non-merchandise items.

Thursday, February 12th
We will be hosting a public meeting at the cafe, starting at 7 pm to answer questions and talk about alternatives to closing.  If you have questions that haven't been answered by what I've written and publicized in the past week, please feel welcome to come down and ask me in person at this meeting.  Also, if you have a suggestion or idea about how we could stay open, we'll be happy to hear it.  However, before sharing your idea at the meeting, please review the post about what we've already considered and why it won't work http://borderlands-books.blogspot.com/2015/02/how-could-borderlands-stay-open.html.

Middle of February
At some point, depending on sales, we'll be putting all our remaining stock on sale.  The exact amount of the discount we'll be offering and when we'll be offering it won't be decided until we have a better sense of how things are going.  Around this time, we'll probably start selling more of our bookshelves.  All the details about this will be posted on our blog http://borderlands-books.blogspot.com and sent out via our twitter feed @borderlands_sf

Also, harkening back to the days when Ripley was our store cat and mascot, we'll have occasional visits from Frost, our last store cat.  When we opened the doorway between the bookstore and the cafe, Frost couldn't hang out anymore because of health code considerations.  But, we'll have some designated cat monitors (who'll make sure that Frost doesn't sneak into the cafe) for her occasional visits.  If you want to know when Frost will be around, please follow our Twitter account @borderlands_sf.  Depending on how that goes, one or both of Frost's housemates might come to visit as well.  Neither Newt nor Hudson have ever been to the bookstore so this promises to be . . . interesting.

Once we start discounting our inventory, we will stop ordering in any new books and we will also stop taking special orders.

Beginning of March
We'll be continuing our discount on existing inventory and selling more of our shelves and fixtures.  For you bargain hunters out there, here's something you should remember -- new books can be returned to the publisher for full credit.  That means it's not worth it for us to discount new books much past the wholesale price.  If you wait for the inventory to be 50% off, you may have a very long wait -- perhaps an indefinite one.

Many of you are aware that the store's owner, Alan, has quite a large wood-working shop in the basement of the store.  Although he'll be keeping much of the equipment, there are a number of spare tools and extra gear that he won't be needing.  In March he'll be bringing up that stuff for sale as well.

After the beginning of March, it's hard to know specifics of what is going to happen when. Sales might go so fast that we hardly have any books left and we end up closing before the 31st.  However, at this time our last author event is scheduled for March 22nd and so we will be open until then at least.  But, we'll be sending out updates via email and Twitter as well as posting them on our blog, so you'll know how things are going almost as fast as we will.

No comments:

Post a Comment