March 07, 2018

Upcoming Events

Loteria Game Night and Poster Signing with artist John Picacio! Thursday, March 15th at 7:00 pm

Mishell Baker, IMPOSTOR SYNDROME (Saga Press, Hardcover $29.99 and Trade Paperback, $15.99) and Seanan McGuire, TRICKS FOR FREE (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, March 17th at 6:00 pm

Come Visit Borderlands West, Saturday, March 24th from 12:00 to 6:00 pm - Alan will be showing off our favorite construction site at 1377 Haight St. (at Masonic Ave.)

SF in SF with authors Nancy Kress, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Jack Skillingstead (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina Street, San Francisco) Sunday, March 25th at 6:30 pm

Ilana C. Myer, FIRE DANCE (Tor, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, April 14th at 3:00 pm

March 06, 2018

March Building News

by Alan Beatts

Frustratingly, I don't have very much news this month.  We're in that miserable stage of construction wherein we mostly wait.  We wait for the engineer to get drawings back to us and we wait for PG&E to answer basic questions.  Until those things happen, I've been keeping busy closing up the wall that we can close (i.e. putting up sheetrock and patching),  but even that process has had some waiting because the next step, "Tape and Mud", has to wait 'til it gets a bit warmer, since there's no heat hooked up yet.

(An aside: "tape and mud" is the process in which we use paper tape to close the seams where pieces of sheetrock meet.  That tape in held in place and covered by joint compound, ("mud"), which is mostly gypsum dust mixed with water.  Since water is the solvent, it takes time to dry and contracts when it does.  If the temperature is too low, it takes forever to dry and, worse, cracks more.  So, we need some days that are mostly over 55 degrees, and we haven't had many of those.  There are other compounds that I could use, but they are a pain in the butt to work with compared to regular mud.)

On the bright side, the volunteers that I'm working with are great, and they've been learning a lot.  Last Sunday I realized that I'm basically training a framing crew from the ground up.  It's taking a little time (and some mis-cut lumber),  but they're smart folks, willing to work hard, and are learning really fast.  I expect that, by the time we're building walls in earnest, they'll be pretty darn good.  So it's a great investment for the future.  Most of the hard-core are already getting up to speed with nailguns and compound miter saws.  All that aside, everyone who's come to help has been lovely and has worked their asses off.  It's been heartwarming to see that kind of support and I'm grateful to every one of them.

If the current weather holds, I hope to start the tape and mud this weekend along with doing the framing for the supply closet.  And, based on some email exchanges today, we might have the engineering drawings by the end of this week.  Which would be a very, very fine thing.

If you're curious about how the place looks, you'll have a chance this month to come check it out.  I'll be holding the place open for visits on Saturday, the 24th, from noon until six pm.  Feel free to stop by anytime in that window and I'll give you the ten-cent tour.

February Bestsellers

1. The Power by Naomi Alderman
2. Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
3. The Will to Battle by Ada Palmer
4. Provenance by Ann Leckie
5. Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
6. Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
7. Artemis by Andy Weir
8. Black Wolves of Boston by Wen Spencer
9.  Dark State by Charles Stross
10.  Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, edited by Ken Liu
2. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
3. Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
4. Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
5. Robots vs. Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
6. Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer
7. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy
8. Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
9. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
10. Amberlough by Lara Ellen Donnelly

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
2. Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
3. The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
4. Changing Planes by Ursula K. LeGuin
5. Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin
6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rotthfuss
7. His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
8. Old Man's War by John Scalzi
9. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
10. The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

March News

* Overheard in the Store:
"I told them, 'Several people this morning are really lucky that it's impossible to get punched in the face through a telephone.'"

* As much as spending a stupid amount of money to make a TV series based on The Lord Of The Rings was, well . . . stupid (, Amazon's most recent move is brilliant.  They're making a TV series based on Iain M. Bank's Culture novels, starting with Consider Phlebas.  We cannot wait.

* R.I.P prolific speculative author Victor Milan.  To read more about the series he contributed to, the writers he helped and the impact he had, read this wonderful obituary in Albuquerque Journal.

* Popular Bangladeshi science fiction Muhammad Zafar Iqbal was recently stabbed in the head.  He survived, and is currently undergoing treatment, but please keep him in your thoughts.

February 07, 2018

Upcoming Events

NEVERTHELESS, SHE PERSISTED (Book View Cafe, Trade Paperback, $19.99) with authors Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Marie Brennan, Nancy Jane Moore, Deborah Ross and Dave Smeds Saturday, February 10th at 3:00 pm

Writers With Drinks with authors Steph Burt, Jasmine Guillory, Ellen Klages, Angela Pneuman, and Molly Sauter  (at the Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, San Francisco, CA) Saturday, February 10th at 7:30 pm

SF in SF with authors Nancy Jane Moore and Trina Robbins (at the American Bookbinders Museum, 355 Clementina St, San Francisco) Sunday, February 11th at 6:30 pm

Patricia Bossano, NAHIA (Waterbearer Press, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Thursday, February 22nd at 6:00 pm

Ada Palmer, THE WILL TO BATTLE (Tor Books, Hardcover, $26.99) Saturday, February 24th at 3:00 pm

Tina LeCount Myers, THE SONG OF ALL (Night Shade Books, Hardcover $25.99 and Trade Paperback $14.99) Saturday, March 3rd at 3:00 pm

Mishell Baker, IMPOSTOR SYNDROME (Saga Press, Hardcover $29.99 and Trade Paperback, $15.99) and Seanan McGuire, TRICKS FOR FREE (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99)

February Building News

by Alan Beatts

Last month I told you all the things that were up in the air about the construction work on our new building on Haight Street.  In the past few weeks they've all been resolved and, in every case, the news is quite good.  Here's the current run-down:

Moving the Electrical Service
Great news on this front.  Last month I said that I was thinking that we'd just have to live with the odd little wall right in front of the door as you enter the place that houses the electrical meters, because PG&E was going to take forever and a day to approve moving them.  But, great news -- it turns out that the city building department trumps PG&E.  If we get the city permits to move the meters, then we can do the work regardless of whether PG&E gives us their blessing or not.  So, it's full steam ahead on that job.  Antonius Dintcho, our electrician, has already arranged for a pre-permit meeting with the inspector.  He suggested it and I think it's a great idea.  It costs a couple hundred bucks but the inspector comes down before we get the permits and start work.  We can discuss with him what we want to do and he'll give us pointers on how he'd like us to do it.

Without this step, we'd need to get the permits, do all the rough work, and then have it inspected.  For something simple, like putting in some outlets or new lights, that's fine, but for something as complicated (and expensive) as relocating meters and panels, there is rooms for interpretation about what the electrical code requires.  By having a pre-inspection we reduce the chances that, after doing a ton of work, the inspector ends up being dissatisfied with our interpretation of the code, and makes us tear a bunch of it out.

The one thing that we will need to wait for PG&E to do is increase the amount of electrical service coming into the building.  But, that's not a problem since we can put in all the gear for 400 amp service, but use smaller main breakers so that it'll be correct for the existing 200 amp service.  Then, in the fullness of time, when PG&E gets around to us -- they upgrade the service, we swap the main breakers out and we're all set.  And, swapping the breakers is only a ten minute job (granted, a sweaty, nervous ten minute job -- at least if you're me; 400 amps at 240 volts will kill a person very, very, extra-crispy dead).

January Bestsellers

1) Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
2) Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
3) Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
4) Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
5) Dark State by Charles Stross
6) La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
7) Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
8) The Power by Naomi Alderman
9) Artemis by Andy Weir
10) Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

Trade Paperbacks
1) Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
2) The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
3) Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
4) Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
5) Robots vs. Fairies edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe
6) Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
7) All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
8) The Tree by Na'amen Gobert Tilahun
9) Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
10) The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

Mass Market Paperbacks
1) Who Fears Death? by Nnedi Okorafor
2) Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
3) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4) Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
5) Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
6) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
7) Old Man's War by John Scalzi
8) Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
9) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
10) The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

February News

* Overheard in the Store:

"I'm going to make glitter prints with it.  How often do you get to make art with your internal organs?"

"Seriously surreal.  I'm inadvertently eavesdropping on these 4 Well-Heeled White Women of a Certain Age, & they're discussing their preferred CBD concentrations."

"I'm going to chop your head off! I love you!"

"If you're equally terrified of everything, you're kind of fearless."

* The world has lost of the best writers of the last century.  Acclaimed poet, essayist, translator and author Ursula K. Le Guin passed on January 22nd 2018 at the age of 88.

--An obituary from

--5 Canadian speculative writers talk about their favorite Ursula K. Le Guin novel:

-- Author Nisis Shawl remembers Ursula K. Le Guin:

January 14, 2018

2018 Sponsorships Are Ready To Go

At the beginning of 2015 Borderlands was getting ready to close.  San Francisco voters had passed an increase in the minimum wage that was going to end the financial viability of the store, probably by the middle of July that year.  If not at that point, then the second increase scheduled for July of this year was certainly going to do the job.  Although I and the rest of the staff strongly support minimum wage laws in general and we suspected that San Francisco's local increase would be generally positive for the city as a whole, we were trapped by the idiosyncrasy of the book business.  Unlike most products, books have a price printed on them. That makes the usual business solution of increasing prices to cover higher expenses impossible for us.  Rather than ride the business down into the grave, I and the rest of the staff decided it was better to close quickly, at the time of our choosing and at the top of our game.

Our customers were very much opposed to this and, out of their comments & suggestions and in consultation with the staff, we decided to try an experiment.  We would ask that a minimum of 300 people sponsor the store for $100 each.  If that many people were willing, it would offset the added expense of the wage increases that were scheduled to raise the wage to $15 per hour by the middle of the following year.  Since that increased expense would be on-going, a basic assumption was that the sponsorship would need to recur each year.

2018 will be our fourth year operating as a sponsored business.  Thus far, it has been a huge success.  Not only have more than double the required number of people sponsored us for the past two years but, with the support of our sponsors, customers, and fellow professionals in our field, we were able to raise the funds to purchase a building on Haight Street to be our permanent location.  2018, our 20th year in business, is going to be a momentous one marked by our relocation to our new home.  We will no longer be subject to the greatest threat to the survival of any small business -- a massive and unmanageable increase in rent.

As exciting as this year will be, it's not going to be easy.  We are still under the wage pressure that caused us to start the sponsorship program in the first place.  In time, our new building will ease some of that pressure, once the costs of moving and the finances stabilize, but for now the finances of the building are only self-supporting and they do not benefit the bookstore.  In fact, the building finances are only self-supporting once the bookstore is paying the rent that currently goes to our landlord into the building's coffers instead.  Added to that pressure, Alan will be doing a great deal of work to get the building is shape to house the store, which means that there will be even more work than usual for the rest of the bookstore and cafe staff.

If you have never been a sponsor or if you were in the past but stopped, this year will be a watershed moment for your support.  If you'd like to sign up, you can do so on-line at, or you can call 888 893-4008, email or come into the store in person.  Though there are quite a few benefits to sponsorship (you'll find a full list here - the greatest thing that your sponsorship will accomplish is helping us move forward and make our transition to our new space.

If you're interested in more details about how the sponsorship program came to be, you'll find the story here

In closing we'd like to thank everyone who has been a sponsor in the past.  Without you, we wouldn't be here.  

January Building News

by Alan Beatts

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year,

I hope that 2018 is treating you well thus far.  For me it started with a horrible cold and it's gotten steadily better from there (not a hard trick to accomplish).  Of course, it's been crazy busy and I'm still way behind on my email, but it would be unreasonable to think that it would be any other way given the events of the past few months.

The biggest one, our purchase of the building on Haight Street (Borderlands West, if you will), has been working out mostly quite well with only a few hiccups so far.  The process of getting the building in shape for us to move is mostly what I'm going to be writing about in this newsletter over the next few months.  Those posts are liable to be pretty long (like this one), which is why we've moved them to the end of the newsletter.

Before I get into all the news and plans about the building, I wanted to let you all know that I'll be having an open-house there this month.  This Saturday, January the 20th, I'll be around from noon until six in the evening.  Feel free to stop by any time in that window and I'll give you the nickel-tour of the place as well as answering any questions you have about our plans.  If you can make it, you really should -- the place is probably just about as torn up as it'll ever be and I think it will be fun in a few years to talk about how you remember back when it was a construction site.

But, if you can't make it to the open house, I've finally got some pictures up -  It's not the best forum for pictures but it was easy to do and easy is a feature much in demand for me, right now.  I should have more pictures up in a bit.