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 -

As a country, we are in deep, deep trouble with the increasing rates of COVID-19.  At this moment, your risk of getting sick is probably higher than at any point since early March.  It's possible that your chances are higher than they have _ever_ been.  More importantly, your chances of getting infected and then passing that infection along to other people is higher than it's ever been.

And, the whole situation is going to get worse between now and January / February.  Possibly much worse.

There are two big things you can do to both keep you & yours safe and help out everyone else.  First is wear a mask (which you are almost undoubtedly doing already).  But the second thing is probably more important.

Stay home.  And, fer gods' sake, don't go to parties and social events.

It's pretty damn clear now how the vast majority of COVID infections are transmitted.  It's by breathing air in enclosed spaces with other people.  The longer you do it, the worse the risk.  The more people, the worse the risk.  Less air circulation . . . worse.

So, don't do that.

No holiday parties.  No parties, period.  No big Thanksgiving get together (no small one either).  Don't go camping with a group of people. Stay home New Year's Eve (though really, who would want to go out -- it's just the annual party for amateurs). And so on.

If you're thinking, "Come on, Alan.  I'm not an idiot.  I've been smart since March.  It's all those other people who are the problem." . . . I know you're smart.  Hell, you're someone who likes to read <grin>.  But here's the thing; I'm saying all this because I'm not seeing a clear message anywhere else.  Here's the bottom line:

The COVID-19 pandemic is;

It is going to get;
before it gets better.

So, at the very least, act like you did in June or July.  If your behavior made sense then, it certainly makes sense now.

New Store Update
I'm still having trouble getting clear time to work at the new building but last month was better.  The most exciting thing is the plumbers came in and hooked up all the bathroom fixtures.  So, we once again have a toilet and sink.  There is still some finish work on the bathroom to do but I hope to have that done soon and then I'll post some pictures.  I think it's going to look really lovely when we're done.

Rare Books at the Shop
There have been a couple of neat books that have come into the shop that I thought I'd mention.  First off, we have a complete set of the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.  "Meh," you may think, "I've got the internet -- who needs an encyclopedia?"  Well, this one was published in 1910 and is notable in a number of ways: it's generally considered the last "British" edition (the later ones were produced in the US); it was the last one to include long, comprehensive articles (some almost the length of a short book); the contributors are a who's who of contemporary arts and sciences (Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Muir, T. H. Huxley, and Bertrand Russell for example); and, last but not least, the production is lovely (heavy, full leather binding on onion-skin paper).  And, it's a remarkable picture of the 19th Century.  When it was published there had never been a world war, the British Empire dominated most of the world, and the majority of nations were ruled by monarchs.  (By the way, it is technically a 12th edition, because it includes the three additional volumes published in 1921 that update the 11th edition to the 12th.)

It's not really something that's in our line but I just couldn't resist bringing it into the shop.  If you want a treat, ask to take a look at one of the volumes the next time you visit.  And, if you'd like to take the full 32 volume set home with you, it's priced at $500 (shipping, if needed, will be extra).

We also have a copy of The Storisende Edition of the Biography of the Life of Manuel by James Branch Cabell.  This was, at the time (published between 1927 and 1930), his complete works and the editing and production were supervised by him.  It is a total of 25 works in 18 uniform volumes and includes perhaps his best known work, Jurgen.  It's a pleasure to have a work like this, by such an early founder of the American fantasy tradition, in such a unique edition.  The condition is good but there has been some shelf wear in the past 90 years.  $600.

More Rare Books Coming
It's looking like we'll be getting a few more older rare books in stock over the next month or so.  And, sometime is the next couple of months, I think I'll be purchasing a pretty large collection with some nice titles in it.  All those will be 21st century works, but some small presses are going to be well represented so I think it will be exciting to get some of those in stock.  More details about that as I have them.

2021 Sponsorships in December
We are heading, once again, towards our annual sponsor signup drive.  (If you're not familiar with the sponsor program, you can find the details and history here - ).  This year we will be doing a couple of things differently.

Unlike previous years, you'll be able to sign up in advance, starting on December 1st, by going to and following the instructions.  Also, after years of requests, we will have the option to have your sponsorship renew automatically every year.  Details about that can be found at the page I've linked to.

As I'm sure you all realize, the events of 2020 have made the support of our customers more important than at any time in our history.  I'm incredibly grateful for everything you have done for us over the past eight and a half months.  I'm hopeful that 2021 overall will be much better than this year, but I fear that at least the first half of it is going to be pretty rough.  That prospect combined with our upcoming move to the new building on Haight St. is causing me some financial concern.  Concerns aside, I'm positive that support in the form of sponsorship will do a great deal to protect the store through 2021.  So, if your situation allows, please consider becoming a sponsor this year if you haven't done so in the past.

Thank you for being a customer and supporting independent bookselling through 2020.  You're the best.

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