November 13, 2017

So, You Bought a Building. Now What?

by Alan Beatts

You've probably heard the news already but, in case you missed the last couple of emails -- We managed to buy the building we were looking at on Haight Street!  This is a pretty huge accomplishment and I want to thank everyone who made it possible -- Borderlands' staff, our sponsors, all our customers who have supported us for 20 years, Dan Marshall and Lance Fulford (our realtors), and, most of all, the 49 people who lent the money that made it a reality. I'm more excited about where we're going to take Borderlands than I've been since I signed the lease for the cafe more than ten years ago.

The payment has been transferred already and escrow will close on the purchase on Tuesday, which will complete the transfer of ownership.  After that, the fun really starts.  But, it's going to be a slow start at first.  The previous owner of the building is also the owner of Recycled Records, the tenant in the retail space on the ground floor.  He's retiring, and is going to be packing up his inventory and shutting down his shop over the next couple of days.  Per the terms of the purchase contract, he has 15 days to leave the place "broom clean".  Until he's out, there isn't much work that can start (though, there are a few things I can get started on while he's still there -- basement and backyard clean up, specifically).

Once he's out, we'll be doing a bit of demolition.  The ceiling is on its last legs, and so we'll strip that down to the joists (those are the big pieces of framing that hold up the floors above).  We'll also pull up the old carpeting so that I can get a good look at the existing flooring.  Once that is done, we'll really be able to see what we've got to work with, as well as letting our structural engineer and architect take a look.  That part is very important since it will affect the next big job -- a soft-story retrofit.

Upcoming Events

Brandon Sanderson, OATHBRINGER (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99), Wednesday, November 15th at 6:00 pm

Meet Our New Building, Thursday, November 16th from 4:00 to 8:00 pm (at 1377 Haight Street at Masonic)

Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday, November 18th, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Annalee Newitz and Robin Sloan (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco), Sunday, November 19th at 6:30 pm

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Northern California Holiday Party, Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 pm

October Bestsellers

1) La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
2) Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
3) Mistress of All Evil by Serena Valentino
4) Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
5) 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads
6) Machine Learning by Hugh Howey
7) Provenance by Ann Leckie
8) Vallista by Steven Brust
9) It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
10) Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Trade Paperbacks
1) Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
3) Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu edited by Ken Liu
4) Damn Fine Story by Chuck Wendig
5) Updraft by Fran Wilde
6) Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
7) Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
8) Machine Learning by Hugh Howey
9) Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
10) Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

1) Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
2) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3) Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
4) Excession by Iain M. Banks
5) Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
6) Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz
7) Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) by Philip K. Dick
8) The Gunslinger by Stephen King
9) Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
10) Old Man's War by John Scalzi

November News

* Overheard in the Store:

"You're kidding! I got all dressed up, and NO ONE'S going to notice, because there's a three-drink minimum!"

"After this, ice cream first? Or chai?" #ValenciaStreetProblems

* Someone has mapped the most read book in each of the fifty states, and some of these choices . . . .

* Do you like San Francisco?  Do you like Jello?  Why not combine them!

* Nick Mamatas' noted writing workshop, "Fabulist Fiction" begins November 4th, and they're accepting late signups.  From the organizers: "Exciting plots and larger-than-life characters are the cornerstones of popular fiction and the emphasis of this course.  In this course, we’ll workshop your short stories and novel chapters, explore the history of the genres, perform writing and idea-generating exercises, and discuss the magazines and publishers looking for your sort of fiction.  Classes will run on Saturdays from November 4th through December 16th from 2 - 5 PM at 25 Taylor Street in San Francisco."

* Horror is bleeding into science fiction and fantasy, says PW.  Although some would argue there has always been a very close relationship between the two.

October 31, 2017

Haight Street Update

We did it!

At around noon today, we had enough funds in the bank to pay for our building on Haight St.  I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am about this.  It truly is a dream come true.

More than that though -- we've shown our city, our field, and the world what is possible.  A few days ago I was talking with one of our lenders in the office. He thanked me for changing the way that people look at the world and expanding what people believe is possible.  I was surprised and kind of embarrassed by the sentiment.  I'm not some big deal mover-and-shaker; I'm just a guy who likes to sell books.

But then I thought about it a bit and pointed out to him that I didn't do that.  Our sponsors and lenders did.  My part was suggesting that the world could be different and that something kind of crazy might be possible.  Our sponsors, and the folks who lent us money, and those that supported us in a hundred other ways, too -- they're the people who changed how people can look at the world and they expanded the idea of what is possible.  And I would expect no less from lovers of speculative and fantastic literature.

I'll have much more news over the coming months but, for now, I wanted to let everyone know what we accomplished.  Thanks to all the people who made a dream come true and showed just how powerful a like-minded, reasonable group of people can be.

In the next few newsletters I'll give more news about what our plans are moving forward.  As it stands, the sale closes on November 15.  Bruce, the owner of the building and the record store, is retiring, which is why the building is for sale in the first place.  He has two weeks after the sale closes to shut down his shop (although I'll give him more time if he needs it).  After that, I'll be doing some work on the place and then looking for a short term tenant (since I've three years left on my Valencia St. lease).  I hope to find someone who would like to start a retail business but who is hesitant to commit to a three or five year lease.  If I don't find someone by the time the work on the building is done, I'll be moving the bookstore there and sub-letting the space on Valencia.

The cafe will stay in its current location regardless of when we move the store.  The lease there has quite a few more years to run and, under Z'ev and Maddy's management, it requires almost no effort on my part to operate, so why mess with a good thing?

There are all sort of decisions still to be made about how the transition is going to proceed, but I'll keep you all up to date in the usual newsletters. Regardless of what happens, we won't be leaving Valencia Street before the new year.

Warmest Regards,

PS  There is one other group that deserves credit for what we've done -- the staff at the Bookstore and Cafe.  They are so good at what they do that I hardly had to think about work for the past 18 days.  Further, they are the people who truly give shape to Borderlands.  I'd just be a lonely guy in a tiny bookshop without them.

PPS  For your amusement, here are two links to the news stories written thus far.

October 21, 2017

News About Haight Street #1

Hi Everyone,

Just a quick update on how the process of buying the building on Haight Street is going.

Fundraising is going alright.  We've secured $825,000 in loans so far and there are several more in progress.  On the other hand, we have 11 days left to raise the remaining $1,075,000 that we need.  So, I'm hopeful, but it's still touch and go.  If you've been thinking about offering a loan, now would be a good time to get in touch with me at

Our inspections are scheduled for this Monday and that will give me a good idea exactly what condition the building is in and what sort of repairs we might need to do once the deal goes through.  To my experienced but layman's eye, the building seems quite solid, but I'm not an expert (which is why I'm hiring some).

We've started a company separate from the bookstore to own and operate the building.  Thanks to a very fine (and fast) lawyer, we got the D. D. Harriman Limited Liability Company up and running in less than three days.  Even if the deal doesn't go through, that company will be useful when we do manage to buy a building.

We've been in the news a couple of times since this started.  Mission Local did a nice piece - - as did Hoodline -  The Hoodline article has a lovely picture of our shop and a picture of Recycled Records as well.  If you're interested in seeing some other pics, you can check out

October 13, 2017

Borderlands to Buy Building

by Alan Beatts

It's been quite a while since I've written something for this newsletter, but something is going on at Borderlands that is so big, so exciting, and (to be honest) so scary that I wanted to tell you about it.

This week I made an offer on a building that is meant to be a permanent home for Borderlands.  On Wednesday that offer was accepted by the seller.  This is a huge event in the lifetime of the store.

The building is a three-story Victorian built in 1902.  There are two flats upstairs and a retail space on the ground floor.  There is also a backyard and a full basement.  It's located just a bit east of Masonic Ave.  It's a little bit smaller that our current spot but, by putting the office and storage in the basement and being smarter with the layout, I think we can fit all our current stock and more.  Sadly, there is no room to accommodate the cafe. (Please note -- that does not mean I'm planning on closing the cafe.)

Upcoming Events

Litquake LitCrawl Phase 2 (Borderlands Books) with authors Sarah Gailey, Sarah Kuhn, Loren Rhoads, and Carter Scholz, Saturday, October 14th from 6:30 - 7:30 pm

Litquake LitCrawl Phase 3 (Borderlands Cafe) with authors Robyn Bennis, Dana Fredsti, Ayize Jama-Everett, and Ellen Klages, Saturday, October 14th from 8:00 - 9:00 pm

Editors Nick Mamatas and Molly Tanzer with guests Jim Nisbet, Tim Pratt, and Dominica Phetteplace, MIXED UP: COCKTAIL RECIPES (AND FLASH FICTION) FOR THE DISCERNING DRINKER (AND READER) (Skyhorse, Hardcover, $14.99) Sunday, October 15th at 3:00 pm

Kevin Hearne (A PLAGUE OF GIANTS), Chuck Wendig (DAMN FINE STORY: MASTERING THE TOOLS OF A POWERFUL NARRATIVE), Fran Wilde (HORIZON) Panel, Tuesday, October 17th at 6:00 pm

Hugh Howey, MACHINE LEARNING (John Joseph Adams, Hardcover, $28.00 and Trade Paperback $15.99) Thursday, October 19th at 6:00 pm

Writers With Drinks (at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, San Francisco) with authors Chris Brown, Thomas Centolella, Celeste Chan, Shawna Kenney, Devorah Major, and Margaret Rhee, Saturday October 21st at 6:30 pm

Michael Blumlein, "The Body As Story" presentation, Sunday, October 29th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF Women in Horror event with authors Dana Fredsti, Erika Mailman, and Loren Rhoads (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco), Sunday, October 29th at 6:30 pm

Stories and Songs with Greg Roensch, Friday, November 10th at 7:00 pm

CANCELLED - Kate Elliott presents "Do Not Be Satisfied With Stories: Narrative Structure and Expectations"

Writers With Drinks (at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, San Francisco) with authors Stephen Elliott, Ben Loory, Annalee Newitz, and Maggie Shen King, Saturday, November 11th at 6:30 pm

Tim Pratt, THE WRONG STARS (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99), Sunday, November 12th at 3:00 pm

Brandon Sanderson, OATHBRINGER (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99), Wednesday, November 15th at 6:00 pm

Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday, November 18th, 10 am to 6 pm

SF in SF with authors Annalee Newitz and Robin Sloan (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco), Sunday, November 19th at 6:30 pm

Sisters in Crime / Mystery Writers of America Northern California Holiday Party, Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 pm

September Bestsellers

1) Provenance by Ann Leckie
2) The Brightest Fell by Seanan McGuire
3) Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
4) Paradox Bound by Peter Clines
5) In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
6) Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
7) Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory
8) Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
9) Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
10) Null States by Malka Older

Trade Paperbacks
1) Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey
2) The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
3) Ruin of Angels by Max Gladstone
4) River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
5) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
6) The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu, trans. by Ken Liu
7) The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
8) Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter
9) Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
10) It by Stephen King

Mass Market Paperbacks
1) The Uploaded by Ferrett Steinmetz
2) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3) Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
4) Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
5) Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
6) Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
7) The Gunslinger by Stephen King
8) American Gods by Neil Gaiman
9) The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu
10) Immortal Architects by Paige Orwin

October News

* Overheard in the Store:
"I told him, 'This tastes really carcinogenic,' and he got SO offended!"

* Overheard at the Con: (Thanks to a great anonymous sponsor for all these great "overheards" from DragonCon)
"I mess with people, but I do it stoically."

"Please take your tail out of my cleavage."​

"What do you mean, Stephen King doesn't come to DragonCon?"

"No honey, you can't go to the football game dressed as a W​hite Walker."

"This has totally ruined my trip - I just found out the people I most wanted to see here are dead."

"The eight cups of coffee I have at breakfast are essential to getting me through the day here."

​"​I'm sorry, but I just get so tired of being doofusy all the time, ya know?​"​

​"​Can I pet your snake?  OH MY GOD IT'S A REAL SNAKE!!!!​"​ <runs away screaming>

​(Woman to her husband, very definitively): "Oh yes, some ​p​anda porn is definitely coming home with us​!"​

​"​I've just been called "ma'am" by Darth Vader."​

"Walk in back of me, damn it - your sword keeps hitting me in the boobs."

"I'm buying this book for my wife - she doesn't know I'm here with my girlfriend, but she'll forgive me for the signed book."

* Some good news, for a change: Governor Brown has signed AB228, which amends California's dreadful, cumbersome, intrusive, ineffectual, & unenforceable autographed-collectibles law.  The new law specifically excludes signed books (among other categories of items,) and is focused, as originally intended, on sports and entertainment memorabilia.