April 04, 2020

Borderlands Open for Mail Orders

This week, the San Francisco Health Department revised the shelter-in-place order.  The revised order states that non-essential businesses (which is us) can continue "Minimum Basic Operations" which are described, in part, as "provide for the delivery of existing inventory directly to residences or businesses" (Section 13.g.i.). That change, along with the shift of most of the bookstores in the city to doing mail order services, means that we feel that we can start fulfilling mail orders, effective immediately.

(To be perfectly clear, we wouldn't be doing this if we weren't confident that we can ship books without putting the staff, our customers, or the mail carriers at risk. Likewise, to maintain social distancing, the only staff that will be working in the store will be Alan and Jude, who share a household.  No other staff will be present.)

So, if there's anything you'd like, please feel free to place some orders.  There are three ways you can go about that -

1)  Biblio - Our entire book inventory is listed online at Biblio.com <https://www.biblio.com/bookstore/borderlands-books-san-francisco>.  It's easy and intuitive to use, and is the simplest way to order books from us securely online.

2)  Email - You can always email us at orders@borderlands-books.com with any orders, questions, comments, or preorders.  We'll need to know the item(s) you'd like, your shipping address and phone number, and a good time to call you so we can get payment info.

3)  Call - If you're really anxious to speak to a human to place your order, we'll be available to answer calls and happy to speak with you from noon until six pm PST on Mondays. The phone number is 415 824-8203.

We're going to be doing one thing different from some of the other stores in town by not offering "curb-side pickup" -- all our orders are going to be sent through the post office, even if you just live right around the corner from the store.  We know it's a pain in the butt and seems completely ridiculous but, first off, the Health Department Order doesn't say anything about having customers come to pick up their items, and secondly, we believe that passing paper bags between us and you, even if we remain separated by six feet or more, isn't consistent with the sort of social distancing that we, as a community, need.

Also, unlike other stores in the city, we're going to have to charge shipping on all orders.  The cost of shipping is high enough ($2.80 to $3.33 for media mail shipping on one book), that it would seriously eat into our margin on a sale.  However, for the duration of the store closure, we are going to reduce our shipping charges to $3 for the first book, and $1.50 each for additional books.

We expect that, even within San Francisco, it will take a few days for your order to arrive.  In part this is because, based on what we've seen, the postal service is overloaded right now.  But, there will also be a delay built into our shipping process.  Per the NIH, the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 72 hours on plastic (https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/new-coronavirus-stable-hours-surfaces).  Since book covers are often treated with a plastic-like substance, it's possible that the virus could last for up to 72 hours on books that we pack.  Of course, neither Jude nor Alan will be packing up books if they're sick but that's beside the point.

To ensure that we don't mail you a box full of germ-y books (wrapped in germ-y bubble wraps like some sort of tasty garnish), we will be packing books on the first day after we get the order (or thereabouts) but they'll spend the second day all boxed up at the shop.  The third day we'll drop them at the post office and they'll arrive no sooner than the fourth day after we get the order.  As a result, though we can't make any promises about the exterior of the packaging, all of the contents should be perfectly safe.  So, just like anything you get delivered, open the outside packaging, wash your hands, unpack it, wash your hands again and enjoy.  Granted, the risk of infection from a contaminated surface is considered low by the CDC but, we want to take all possible steps to protect the health of our customers.  (And that is why we're not doing curb-side pickup).

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