Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Sponsor Letter, April 11th 2017

April Sponsor Newsletter

Thank you to everyone who attended the Sponsors' General Meeting on March 31st.  It was a good evening.  I got a bunch of ideas (some of which you'll find below) and very useful feedback on our second full year as a sponsored store.  I'll be getting the notes from the meeting together in the next couple of weeks and I'll make sure you know where to find them on the sponsors' blog.

Full write-up aside, my main message at the meeting was that we're doing alright in terms of sales in the bookstore for this year so far, but the weather hasn't helped. That said, I'm not concerned.  The cafe business is rock solid and Z'ev has taken on full responsibility for the day-to-day operations.  He's doing a great job and it's a big load off of me.

From the sponsors I heard that we're doing well but that they'd like more chances to socialize with each other (and us) outside of the quarterly socials.  So, as you'll see below, we're adding two regular monthly get-togethers.  Assuming people turn up, we'll keep them going.

I hope that everyone one is either enjoying their spring, or at least "fixin' to".

All Best,
Alan

The Hare Version:

(1) If you have not yet renewed your sponsorship for 2017, this will be the last sponsor email you'll receive.  Of course, if you would like to renew now, we'd love to have you.  You can stop by the store, call, email, or even send us an old-fashioned check.  And, you can renew on-line right here - https://borderlands-books.com/buysponsorship17.html .  (Current sponsors take note -- we will be changing the password for the wireless in the cafe.  Please ask at the counter or email me to get the new password.)

(2) Shall we "pester" you?  If you'd like reminders about major events and sponsorship renewals, please let me know.  I try not to spam people but I've head from a number of sources that reminders would be welcome, so -- if you like to hear from me more often, just reply to this note and put "pester me" in the subject or email.

(3) Due to popular sponsor demand, we'll be reviving the Sponsors' Cocktail nights.  Due to urgent demand from Alan & Jude's livers, we'll be doing it only once a month, on the fourth Tuesday of each month.  Our first Monthly Sponsor Cocktail night will be Tuesday, April 25th at Churchill (198 Church Street at Market) starting at 7:00 pm.

(4) Guardians of the Galaxy II Sneak Preview Tickets!  In appreciation of our sponsors, Rina Weisman at SF in SF is giving you first crack at tickets for the preview show on May 4th (time TBA), available only via SF in SF.  Tickets will be $8.50; email your full name and a contact email to Rina Weisman, at sfinsfevents@gmail.com to be notified when tickets go on sale.  Please note - Sponsors may purchase up to six tickets each so please, bring your friends.

(5) Game nights.  Inspired by the rousing success of the first one, we'll be doing a monthly game night at the Cafe on the second Monday of each month.  The first monthly Game Night will be Monday, May 8th from 6 pm - 10 pm.  Guests are welcome and no RSVPs are necessary.

(6) Our next Sponsor Social will be Saturday, May 13th from 7pm - 11pm.  We'll have fencing (with swords, not wooden posts) demonstrations, a fabulous retail guest, free advance reading copies and much more!

(7) We're still working on the details of June's Sponsor event, which will probably be a San Francisco Ghost Walk.

(8) Join us for a guided tour of the San Francisco Center for the Book (375 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94103) on Sunday, July 2nd at 10:00 am.  The cost for the tour is $10.  Please RSVP if you're interested.  You may bring one guest.

The Tortiose Version:

(1) If you have not yet renewed your sponsorship for 2017, this will be the last sponsor email you'll receive.  This is not because we want to exclude you but, rather than spamming former sponsors, we will be purging our 2016 mailing list and replacing it with the current list of sponsors.  If you'd still like to see what is going on with the sponsorship program, all that information will continue to appear at the sponsors' blog - http://borderlands-sponsors.blogspot.com - which is (and will remain) open for public viewing.  Of course, if you would like to renew now, we'd love to have you.  You can stop by the store, call, email, or even send us an old-fashioned check.  And, you can renew on-line right here - https://borderlands-books.com/buysponsorship17.html .  (Current sponsors take note -- we will be changing the password for the wireless in the cafe.  Please ask at the counter or email me to get the new password.)

(2) The "Pester Me" option: please let us know if you would like me to send you extra emails with reminders about sponsor renewal, upcoming major events, parties, and etc.  Sponsors at the recent General Meeting mentioned that sometimes, reminders are really helpful and they appreciated the extra nudges.  Confirm you'd like extra reminders by replying to this note with "pester me" in the subject or body of your email.

(3) Due to popular sponsor demand, we'll be reviving the Sponsors' Cocktail nights.  Due to popular demand from Alan and Jude's livers, we'll be doing it only once a month (instead of once a week), on the fourth Tuesday of each month.  Our first Monthly Sponsor Cocktail night will be Tuesday, April 25th at Churchill (198 Church Street at Market) <http://www.churchillsf.com/>; some combination of us will be there from at least 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm.  No need to RSVP and any number of guests and friends are welcome.  The bar is INCREDIBLY convenient to public transit -- the MUNI Metro Underground (via F, K, L, and M lines at Church Street,) and J and N lines stop less than a block away.

(4) SF in SF is hosting a sneak preview of the upcoming sure-to-be-a-smash-hit GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY II!  In appreciation of our sponsors, Rina Weisman at SF in SF is giving you first crack at tickets for this show, available only via SF in SF, beginning April 15th. If you are interested in being contacted when these tix go on sale, please email your full name and a contact email to Rina Weisman, at sfinsfevents@gmail.com.  This will be a sell-out, so you'll want to RSVP early!  Please note - Sponsors may purchase up to six tickets each so please, bring your friends.  The preview will take place Thursday, May 4th at The Balboa Theatre (3630 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121) time to be announced, and tickets will be $8.50 each.

(5) Game nights.  Inspired by the success of the first one in September of last year, we'll be doing a monthly game night at the Cafe on the second Monday of each month.  The first Monthly Game Night will be Monday, May 8th from 6 pm - 10 pm.  Join fellow sponsors & "game" staff for chess, Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, Pictionary, or whatever other board games you'd like to bring to play!  Please bring games that have a usual play-cycle of less than 3 hours, so probably NOT Monopoly, Seven Ages, Arkham Horror, or The Longest Day (that's the Normandy Invasion strategy game that takes an average of 90 hours to play).  Are you a secret Balderdash champion?  Kick butt at Connect 4?  Here's your chance to shine!  We'll have adult beverages (after eight pm), iced tea and lemonade on offer, but feel free to bring your favorite beverage to share.  Also, you're welcome to bring food if you wish -- the cafe will be shutting down at eight.  No need to RSVP, and please feel free to invite your friends along, as there really isn't any limit to the number of folks we can accommodate -- the more the merrier.

(6) Our next Sponsor Social will be Saturday, May 13th from 7pm - 11pm.  We'll have fencing demonstrations, a fabulous retail guest, free advance reading copies and oh so much more!

(7) We're still working on June's Sponsor event, which will probably be a San Francisco Ghost Walk.  More info as we have it.

(8) Join us for a fascinating guided tour of the San Francisco Center for the Book (375 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94103) on Sunday, July 2nd at 10:00 am. The San Francisco Center for the Book was co-founded in 1996 by Mary Austin and Kathleen Burch, "who recognized a growing need in San Francisco, the Bay Area and on the West Coast for a facility specifically designed and equipped to support the appreciation, teaching and creation of book arts."  Attendees can expect a walk-through of the space, both the Bindery and Print Studio, with details about the equipment, what it's used for, and a little history of bookbinding and letterpress printing. There will be demos of some of the equipment so we can see how things work, and the tour will wrap up in the Print Studio with a letterpress demo.  The Center also has a bookbinding workshop scheduled for July 2nd,  so we will get to see some students at work.  The cost for the tour will be $10, and the guided portion will take about an hour.  Attendees can stay longer to explore the space if they wish.  For more information about the Center, their website is here: https://www.sfcb.org/home .  We will meet outside the Center at 9:45 am before the tour, and guests are welcome; however, please do RSVP for this event so we know how many people to expect.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Sponsor Letter, March 14th 2017

Hi All,

I'm sorry that this note is so late but I've been really busy working on a Big Thing.  Can't talk about it right now but you can expect another note from me in the next week or so about it.  So, I'm going to get right back to it now and I'll write something longer and more informative soon.

All Best,
Alan

PS  But let me add an enthusiastic welcome to our new sponsors.  Folks are continuing to sign up (which is great) and we've had a number of additions.  Thank you all for the support.

Upcoming Sponsor Events

Single espresso version:
Private Reception with Steven Brust and Skylar White, Sunday, March 19th, 5:30 pm - We'll be hosting a brief private reception for a small group of sponsors.  If you would like to be in the drawing to attend the private event, please reply to this email and say so (and, do look at the details in the next section of this note).

Roller Skating at The Church of 8 Wheels, Friday, March 24th at 7 PM - Roller Disco at the one and only non-profit church for skaters.  554 Fillmore Street at Fell in San Francisco.

Sponsor General Meeting, Friday March 31st, 7 PM - Our annual meeting and discussion about how the sponsor program is going.

Museum Mechanique/San Francisco Dungeon/Buena Vista Cafe, Sunday, April 9th from 2 PM to 7 PM - An afternoon strolling around Fisherman's Wharf and enjoying some of the unique features of San Francisco.

Sponsor Social, Saturday, May 13th, 7 pm - Details in April's note.

Quadruple extra-large caramel frappachino version:

Private Reception with Steven Brust and Skylar White, Sunday, March 19th at 5:30 PM -
As a special treat for our sponsors, Steven Brust and Skylar White, authors of the INCREMENTALIST books, will be attending a private reception for a small group of you after their public event at the store.  To make this an intimate gathering, rather than just a smaller version of the signing at the store, the number of people attending is sharply limited.  If you would like to come, please reply to this email and let me know.  The deadline to express interest is 6 pm Friday, March 16th.

After the deadline, I'll draw names out of a "hat" to determine who will be attending.  The private event is at 5:30 pm on March 19th, will run just about an hour, and is walking distance from Borderlands.  Drinks will be available to purchase at the site.  Regrettably, it will not be possible to bring any guests.  I will be notifying the winners Saturday, March 18th, and giving them further details.

Of course, the event at the store is open to the public and, as a sponsor, you can reserve a seat for yourself and one guest, if you like.  Just email sponsors@borderlands-books.com to reserve a seat.

Roller Skating at The Church of 8 Wheels, Friday, March 24th, 2017, at 7:00 PM
Housed in the 118-year-old former location of Sacred Heart Church (554 Fillmore Street at Fell Street in San Francisco) The Church of 8 Wheels welcomes anyone over the age of 18 to Friday night disco.  Admission is $10.00 and skate rentals are an additional $5.00.  Personal skates and roller blades are allowed and should weather dictate layering, there is a coat check at the door.  It's been years since I've been rollerskating and I'm really looking forward to it.  Look for the Borderlands T-shirts and hoodies, we shouldn't be hard to find.  http://www.churchof8wheels.com/

Sponsors' General Meeting, Friday March 31st, 2017, at 7:00 PM at Borderlands Cafe (870 Valencia St., SF CA 94110)
I'd really like to have a chance to talk with you about how things have gone through our second year as a sponsored store.  I want to know what we've done right, what we've done wrong, and what we can do better -- as well as answering any questions you have.  Also, this is where I talk about my ideas and plans for the future, especially the upcoming year.  It's sort of like a cross between a share-holders meeting and a big advisory board meeting.  I'll outline where we're at and then ask for comments, opinions and ideas.  I hope to see as many of you there as possible because this is where I get my guidance on where we should go with the sponsor program, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you can't attend in person, feel free to email me with your comments (we'll email a report on the meeting a week or two afterwards).

Three-Part Trip through San Francisco History, Sunday, April 9th, 2017, 2 PM to 7 PM
Feel free to catch up with us at any point during our ramble around Fisherman's Wharf.

Part 1: Musee Mechanique - Fun and Games, 2 PM to 4 PM
We'll gather at the coolest collection of arcade games on the planet, and tremble at the horror that is Laughing Sal.   All coin-operated games are available to play.  Prices range from 1¢ (it's true!) to $1.  Most games cost 25¢ to 50¢.  (No need to bring your own quarters, they have change machines throughout the building!).  http://museemecaniquesf.com/index.php

Part 2: San Francisco Dungeon - An immersive tour of San Francisco history, 4 PM to 5 PM
At around 3:45 we'll meet up right outside the Musee Mechanique and then head over to the SF Dungeon.  (From their website) The San Francisco Dungeon brings together an amazing cast of theatrical actors, special effects, stages and scenes in a truly unique and exciting walk-through experience that you see, hear, touch, smell and feel. It’s hilarious, fun and it’s sometimes a bit scary.  https://sanfrancisco.thedungeons.com/en/san-francisco/Explore/What-is-the-Dungeon/

Part 3: Buena Vista Cafe - Irish Coffee and Snacks 5 PM (or there abouts) to 7 PM
After we finish at the SF Dungeon, we'll stroll down Fisherman's Wharf to The Buena Vista for a drink and a snack (they have a full menu).  (From their website)  The original building where the Buena Vista sits today was a boardinghouse until 1916 when the landlord converted the first floor into a saloon. That saloon was named the Buena Vista. ("Good View" in Spanish) The view was good indeed and it served as a warm meeting place for hundreds of fishermen and handlers who worked for the nearby Sardine Cannery. There they could take in a whiskey while scouting the bay for incoming fishing boats which would mean, "Quick! Finish your drink and back to meet the boats!"  In 1952, with the help of a Pulitzer-Prize winning writer, the Buena Vista introduced to the world its now-famous Irish Coffee. The recipe has never changed and the view is still quite good.  http://www.thebuenavista.com/home/home.html

Sponsor Social, Saturday, May 13th, 2017 from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Details coming in April's newsletter

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Sponsor Letter, February 4th 2017

Hi Everyone,

First off, the great news -- we've met our goal of 300 sponsors already.  In fact, we're currently at 515.  Thank you all for the support and for keeping our doors open through 2017!

Of course, if you haven't renewed yet, it is never too late.  Additional sponsorship income goes into the bank and, if all goes well, will be the kernel of the down payment for a building to house the store when our lease expires in 2021.  And, of course, if you renew you'll continue to get all the lovely sponsor perks like getting to read my deathless prose every month.  You can sign up on-line <https://borderlands-books.com/buysponsorship17.html>, in person at the store, by phone with a credit card (toll free 888 893-4008), or with a check by physical mail.

But, if you've decided to let your sponsorship lapse, I understand completely and I appreciate beyond words your support over the last year.  Just so you know, if you do not renew your sponsorship by March 31st, you will stop getting these emails.  In case you'd like to come back later, we will hold your number for you until March 31st of 2019.  After that, if you return, you'll get a new, higher number (we're over sponsor number 1000 now, so you onesies, twosies, and threesies should be proud).  Even if you have not renewed your sponsorship yet, you are welcome to come to the party on February 11th (that might even be a good time to renew, if you like).

Regardless of whether you renew or not, you've allowed me and my friends to keep doing the thing we love.  I owe you and, if there is ever something I can do to repay that, please let me know.

Last thing -- I've a favor to ask.  At our quarterly sponsor parties I like to have a pair of local guests, one a retailer and the other a beverage maker. If you know anyone who runs a local business that you think would be neat to feature at our parties, please let me know because we're always looking for guests.  There isn't any strict standard that I use to choose them, it just needs to be local and something neat that I think our sponsors would enjoy.

Thanks a million,
Alan

Abbreviated
1) The first sponsor social of 2017 will be on Saturday, February 11th from 7 pm to 11 pm.  Our quarterly parties are usually well-attended and a lot of fun (not to mention a great place to meet new friends).  Our special guests this quarter will be the folks from Bernal Cutlery <http://bernalcutlery.com>.

2) UC Berkeley Diversity In Comics Event - Sunday, February 26th at 2pm - come check out comics and graphic novels from around the world. Exhibit is free and you are welcome to bring a guest.

3)  Our annual Sponsors' General Meeting will be on Friday, March 31st at 7 pm in the Cafe.  A chance to talk about how we're doing, where we're going, and to give us your advice.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Sponsor Letter, January 9th 2017

Dear Sponsors,

First, thank you to all our 2017 sponsors.  If you've renewed your sponsorship, I appreciate your faith and continued support.  And, if you've just started sponsoring Borderlands; Welcome and thank you so much!  I send these notes out once a month or so with news about the sponsor program and information about upcoming events.  New sponsors will also be getting a welcome email shortly from Scott Cox, our sponsor liaison, that will include detailed information about your sponsorship and associated benefits (and, your all-important sponsor number).  Now, on to my babbling . . .

A year ago, I was worried that, after the first impassioned flood of sponsors when it looked like we might close, peoples' interest would fade.  But, that didn't happen.  In 2016 we had around 650 sponsors, which is not as much of a decrease from the first year's 850 as I expected.

And, thus far this year, your support has remained strong.  As I write this, we don't have an exact count for the year so far, but I feel confident we will pass the critical threshold of 300 sponsors.  But, that said, if you haven't renewed your sponsorship for 2017, it would be a very fine thing if you did (the link to do that on-line is https://borderlands-books.com/buysponsorship17.html or you can come by the shop / mail a check if you prefer).  There are three reasons to renew your sponsorship this year, regardless of my confidence that we'll make it to 300 by March 31st.

1)  As I mentioned, the number of sponsors dropped by about 25% between the first and second years.  As I've stressed, this is a long-term program.  If we don't have 300 sponsors on March 31st each year, we close.  So, if the numbers keep dropping, we're going to hit that limit at some point and we're done.  As a business, there are long-term plans that would be wise to make years in advance.  For example, we've bought memberships and dealer's tables for the 2018 World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose.  Based on current trends, I feel relatively confident that we'll be in business to go to that convention.  But, if our numbers drop this year to 500, I won't have that sort of confidence for a convention in 2020.  So, keeping the numbers up gives me the confidence to make the sort of plans that will benefit us in the future.

2)  One of my most ambitious long-range plans is to purchase a building to house Borderlands when our current lease expires in 2021.  Or, at the very least, before the lease on the cafe expires in 2025.  Since we don't need the entire cost of the sponsorships to cover increased wages, I've been banking most of the excess to have on hand to cover the cost of such a plan.  So, in essence, every sponsorship over that minimum of 300 is $100 towards buying a building, doing the work to house our store, and moving the store there.  I'm not counting on sponsorships to get us all the way there but they will help a great deal.

3)  Finally, it's pretty cool to be a sponsor of Borderlands.  First off, it makes you part of a truly remarkable group of people.  As a group, our sponsors are some of the smartest, most pleasant, and accomplished people I've ever known -- and that's not even considering their part in our history-making sponsorship program.  Of course, there are also some nice benefits to being a sponsor.  Over the past two years those benefits have mostly been useful to people who can actually visit the store, but I'm working on that.  (Certainly, our guests at the sponsors-only whisky tasting we hosted at the World Fantasy Convention last year thought it was pretty neat.)

So, if you haven't renewed your sponsorship, now's a good time to do so.  Of course, you can renew anytime this year, but why wait?

I'll close this note with a story about something nice that happened right at the end of last year.  About two days before New Years, I got a call from the owner of a specialty coffee bar on an island in Puget Sound.  She was facing the possibility of closing up shop, because of wage increases, and she'd heard about Borderlands because of a news article about our sponsors.  We talked for almost an hour about how the program worked, how she had created a real community around her shop, and how she could work with her staff and customers to find a solution.  At the end of the call, she said how hopeless she had been feeling, and how much more optimistic she now felt about her prospects.  I hope to hear more from her so I can let you all know how it works out for her.

Then, fifteen minutes later, I started an hour and a half meeting with the owner and the general manager of a local nightclub, The DNA Lounge.  They've been having some serious financial problems and a bunch of their customers had suggested that they might want to talk with me about what we had done.  It was a good meeting overall and I hope that things work out well for them, but there was something funny that kept coming up.  We'd talk about ideas for a bit and then they would suggest something that was very smart, from a business and sales standpoint.  And I'd point out to them that it was a bad idea.  Because, for something like our sponsorships to work, it has to be a partnership -- not a sales and marketing opportunity.

Truly, we could probably "sell" many more sponsorships if we "marketed" them to our "customers" and made sure that it was a "good deal".  And, in the end, I think we would fail.  As I explained to the nightclub folks -- this isn't something I'm trying to sell to you.  From the very beginning, this was an opportunity for people who cared about Borderlands to allow us to stay open -- if they wanted.  Every day that I get to come to work is a gift you've given me (and the rest of the staff).  I'm humbled and grateful that you are willing to give it.  And I'm so happy that there are some things, slight though they are in comparison to what you've given me, that I can provide to show my appreciation.

So, here's to 2017!  I think we did it again this time around -  so, let's read some books, have a drink or two, and keep doing what we've been doing!

Warmest Regards,
Alan

PS  Oh, and I forgot to mention -- on November 3rd, 2017, we'll have been in business for 20 years.  I'm very glad that we'll get to celebrate that anniversary.

Upcoming Events

The Short Version
1) Bringing in the new year, we'll take a tour of the Speakeasy Brewery on Saturday, January 14th at 2:30 pm.  There will be a small charge for the tour and guests are welcome.

2) I, and several other folks, thought it might be nice to have a little social gathering on Friday, January 20th to mark an event that is, at the very least, slightly science-fictional and surreal.  So, we'll be getting together at the store for cookies, tea and company from 7 pm to 10 pm.  Guests are very welcome and, if you've got cookies that you're especially proud of, please do bring some.

3) The first sponsor social of 2017 will be on Saturday, February 11th from 7 pm to 11 pm.  Our quarterly parties are usually well-attended and a lot of fun (not to mention a great place to meet new friends).

4)  Our annual Sponsors' General Meeting will be on Friday, March 31st at 7 pm in the cafe.  A chance to talk about how we're doing, where we're going, and to give us your advice.

The Long Version

1) Tour of the Speakeasy Brewery < http://www.goodbeer.com > on Saturday, January 14th at 2:30 pm (1195 Evans Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124).  Even before they were the beverage guest at one of our sponsor socials, we've been really big fans of the folks at Speakeasy Ales and Lagers, so it seemed obvious to us that a visit to their brewery and tap room would be in order in 2017.  They opened the same year as Borderlands and their operation right here in San Francisco is something to see -- they can turn out 90,000 barrels of beer a year at the current facility.  Despite their success, they're still a small, local company and just our kind of people.  Each tour group caps at 10 people but they run tours every hour so, if we fill up the first tour, we'll add another at 3:45.  As a consequence, guests are completely welcome.  There will be a nominal charge of $7 per person for the tour.  Please RSVP to sponsors@borderlands-books.com to let us know you'd like to come, since we need to book a bit in advance (if you've already RSVPed, no need to do so again).

2) Cookies, Tea and Company on Friday, January 20th from 7 pm to 10 pm.  I, and several other folks, thought it might be nice to have a little social gathering to mark an event that is, at the very least, slightly science-fictional and surreal.  So, we'll be getting together at the store for cookies, tea and company from 7 pm to 10 pm.  Guests, in any numbers, are very welcome.  We'll provide some cookies but, if you've got a recipe (or supplier) that you're especially proud of, please do bring some to share.  Likewise, if you've a favorite sort of tea, you can bring that too (though we'll have plenty of tea on hand).  Also, if you feel like the evening deserves something a bit stronger than tea -- we won't tell if you don't.

3) The first sponsor social of 2017 will be on Saturday, February 11th from 7 pm to 11 pm.  Our quarterly socials are a very free-form, come-as-you-are, pot-luck and BYOB party.  We usually have a beverage guest and some sort of special retailer, and sometimes other entertainment.  There's lots of conversation, board games at the back of the cafe, free reading copies of upcoming books that caught our attention, and a door prize drawing.  It's a great place to meet folks and just hang out with a bunch of avid, avid readers.  If you've never been, you really should come.  The first one of the year is usually quite a celebration since it's the first time that I publicly announce the total number of sponsors for the year so far.  You're welcome to bring one guest and RSVPs are very much appreciated.  The party takes place at the store / cafe and entrance is through the cafe door.  I hope to see you there.

4) On Sunday, February 26th at 2pm, we're going to visit the "Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics" exhibition at the Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, Doe Library at the UC Berkeley.  On the advice of a sponsor, we're going to check out this exhibit of comics and graphic novels from around the world.  From their website: "These materials often reflect the socioeconomic, ideological and political realities of the societies in which they are produced. . . . Comics and graphic novels portray differences by selectively intensifying various contradictions generated in society by censorship, race relations, political agendas and gender biases.  Some of the comics that are displayed may raise issues that are highly contradictory or painful to contemplate. . . the curatorial team encourages you to dissect, deconstruct, analyze and enjoy the pictorial narratives that these items portray!"  The exhibit is free and you are welcome to bring a guest.  We'll meet outside the Gallery at 2 pm, and it should take no longer than an hour to see the exhibit.  The UC campus is easily accessible from the Downtown Berkeley BART station.  If you live in San Francisco and would like a ride, or can provide a carpool, please RSVP and let us know so we can help arrange transportation.  The Doe Library is in the middle of campus, directly west of Sather Tower.  The Brown Gallery is on the first floor, off of the North entrance.  Directions are here: http://www.berkeley.edu/map?doe and you can find more information about the exhibit here: https://events.berkeley.edu/?event_ID=101462

5)  Sponsors' General Meeting on Friday, March 31st at 7:00 pm.  I'd really like to have a chance to talk with you about how things have gone through our second year as a sponsored store.  I want to know what we've done right, what we've done wrong, and what we can do better -- as well as answering any questions you have.  Also, this is where I talk about my ideas and plans for the future, especially the upcoming year.  It's sort of like a cross between a share-holders meeting and a big advisory board meeting.  I'll outline where we're at and then ask for comments.  I hope to see as many of you there as possible because some of the topics on my mind are pretty important, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you can't attend in person, feel free to email me with your comments (we'll email a report on the meeting a week or two afterwards).

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pre-Order 2017 Sponsorships

Hello Dear Sponsors,

I hope that December is treating you all very, very well.  We've been busy around the shop (which is a great thing) and it's made us very happy to see so many of you out and about.

As promised, the web page is ready for you to pre-order your 2017 sponsorships.  The link is https://borderlands-books.com/buysponsorship17.htmll .  As you will see there, your credit card will not be charged until January 1st, 2017.

If you would prefer to stop by in person to renew, you're welcome to do so but . . . it's a little bit easier for us if you do so by credit card or by check.  We'll take cash (of course!) but it takes a little extra handling.

Likewise, if you want to mail a check, please do -- but, if you would post-date it January 1st, 2017, that will make things easier for us.  And yes, all this hoop-jumping is to keep the taxes simple and the tax-folks happy.

Thank you all for your support through 2016 and thank you for considering the same for 2017.  I think that we're doing something really wonderful with the sponsor program but, moreso, I think that we are doing something really wonderful with Borderlands.  We've made a place that feels like home to so many people (for example, we hosted our third wedding at the shop just a few weeks ago).  Given that the world may seem like a darker and scarier place right now, I and the rest of the staff consider it an honor to be able to give people a sense of comfort and belonging.

And I'm honored by the faith you've shown me with your trust and belief that we can keep going strong.

I hope that this month and the New Year bring you joy, peace, love and all that you could possibly wish.

Warmest Regards,
Alan

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Sponsor Letter, December 8th 2016

Hey Everybody,

It's almost time to prove again that what we started last year actually works.  I'm a bit scared and excited at the same time.  Last year we started the sponsor program and saved Borderlands.  This year showed that it wasn't a one-time fluke.  But 2017 is going to be the final test.  In 2015 we had around 850 sponsors.  This year we had around 650.  That is, roughly, a 25% drop.  To be honest, that is better than I was expecting.

In 2015, Borderlands closing was big news.  People were paying attention and emotions were high.  Being a sponsor in 2015 was a statement.  It was, if you will, a shout out to the world, "Dammit, bookstores matter!"  It was a punch in the face to all the things that have, over the years, closed our beloved bookstores (and record shops and video rental joints).

But being a sponsor in 2016 was a different sort of statement.  It was, delivered in a flat, dispassionate growl, "I'm going to keep Borderlands open."  It was the start of a wrestling match on the barroom floor; a match that might go on 'til last call.  So, it's no surprise that fewer people want to sign up for that sort of fight.

Which is not to say that I don't appreciate the hell out of the people who stood up in 2015, took a swing, and then went on to another good fight.  Their sheer numbers sent me and plenty of other people a message that we needed.

This year is going to send me a message as well.  If we drop by another 25% this year, down to around 400 sponsors or so, I'm going to have some serious concerns about this working over the long term.  Because that progression means we barely make the 300 we need come 2018.  And, in 2019, we won't make it and we're closing.

On or around the 15th of this month, the web-page for sponsor renewals will go live (I'll be sending a short note to you to let you know when that happens).  I'm hoping that you'll all decide to go another round with us but, if you decide not to, thank you so much for your support -- we've had a good year and we've done some great things.  Without you, we wouldn't have had this year or the last one.  So, thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  Have a peaceful and calm holiday, and may the New Year bring you all you wish.

All Best,
Alan

PS  A big thank you to the folks who made the last sponsor social a big success: Meg, our fantastic tarot reader <http://www.megstarotreadings.com/> whose efforts were much appreciated by all.  Philip Cuadra, founder of San Francisco's Highlawn Wine Company <http://www.highlawnwine.com/>, who plied our guests with some very tasty beverages.  And our DJ, Steven R. Boyett <http://www.steveboy.com/index.html>.  Steve recorded his mix from that night and has it here for your delectation <listen - http://traffic.libsyn.com/djsteveboy/funk_by_the_book_-_live_at_borderlands.mp3   download / playlist (mix is called "Funk by the Book" - http://www.groovelectric.com/mixes.html )

The Twitter Version
1) We'll be hosting a brief private reception for a small group of sponsors with James S.A. Corey (aka Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), on Saturday December 10th at 4 pm, before their public event at the store.  If you would like to be in the drawing to attend the private event, please reply to this email and say so (and, do look at the details in the next section of this note).

2) We'll be touring the offices of the Long Now Foundation at Fort Mason Center (2 Marina Blvd. Fort Mason Center Bldg. A San Francisco, CA 94123) on Monday, December 12th at 7:00 pm.  You're welcome to bring a guest but please RSVP to sponsors@borderlands-books.com.

3) Thanks to the Balboa Theatre <http://www.balboamovies.com> and SF in SF <http://www.sfinsf.org>, Borderlands Sponsors have an opportunity to attend a special preview of the new Star Wars movie "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" at 7 pm on Thursday, December 15th.  For details, email sfinsfevents@gmail.com and mention that you're a Borderlands Sponsor.

4) Bringing in the new year, we'll take a tour of the Speakeasy Brewery on Saturday, January 14th at 2:15 pm.  There will be a small charge for the tour and guests are welcome.

5) I, and several other folks, thought it might be nice to have a little social gathering on Friday, January 20th to mark an event that is, at the very least, slightly science-fictional and surreal.  So, we'll be getting together at the store for cookies, tea and company from 7 pm to 10 pm.  Guests are very welcome and, if you've got cookies that you're especially proud of, please do bring some.

6) The first sponsor social of 2017 will be on Saturday, February 11th from 7 pm to 11 pm.

7) We're going to take a group visit to UC Berkeley's Doe Library exhibition, "Beyond Tintin and Superman: The Diversity of Global Comics", on Sunday, February 26th at 2 pm.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sponsor Letter, November 7th 2016

Hi All,

Well here we go, we're into November and into the chute leading up to the Holidays.  I quite like this time of year but it is busy, busy, busy.  This month is also notable in that it's the beginning of our 20th year in business.  I opened the shop on November 3rd, 1997.  As you can imagine, I've got a few plans for our 20th anniversary at the end of next year and, of course, some special stuff in mind for you all particularly.  But, it's nothing I want to talk about yet though I will give you a hint -- I think that there are going to be some book collectors who will be sad in the latter part of next year that they are not sponsors.

All those plans are contingent on getting 300 sponsors next year, but I'm feeling pretty good about that.  We've over 650 for this year so far and I don't expect that will drop by more than 50% next year.  Just like last year, we'll be opening up pre-payments for existing sponsors sometime in December and then well start charging credit cards and accepting new sponsors on January 1st.  I'll have all the details about that in the next sponsor note but you can expect that it will work much the same as it did this year.

If you can make it to the sponsor social next Saturday, November the 12th, please do.  This year we're not doing a public anniversary party but I think we'll be whooping it up a bit at the social. We're also going to have two guests from out of town.  Chris Roberson has written a huge range of stuff and right now is mostly working on comics.  After a stint writing for DC's Superman comic he went on to create iZOMBIE (the TV show based on that comic is now in its third season on The CW).  Nowadays he writes Hellboy with Mike Mignola, when he's not writing novels.  Also visiting will be Rani Graff.  Rani started and runs Graff Publishing, which is the second largest publisher of SF and fantasy in Israel and has introduced more great authors to that country than I can count.  Chris and Rani are two of my favorite people in our business and it's going to be great to have them hanging out at the party.

Regarding sponsor socials and the upcoming year, I have a question for you.  This year we scheduled the socials to alternate between Thursdays and Saturdays.  After talking with some folks, I'm not sure that is a good pattern, but I want to hear from you.  Should we keep up that alternation, or should we just have all the socials in 2017 on Saturday evenings?

I think that's it for now.  Have a great month and please enjoy your Thanksgiving, whether it be turkey with all the trimmings or Chinese take-out.  I've had both and, I've got to say, I sorta prefer the Chinese take-out.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.

All Best,
Alan

The Yeager Version
1) BOOKED UP Mary Robinette Kowal's Whiskey Tasting will be on Friday, November 11th, at 8 pm.  As expected this event filled up very quickly and, at this point, there are no spaces left (along with a full wait-list).

2) Sponsor Social.  Our next Sponsor Social (and last one of 2016) will be Saturday, the 12th of November, from 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm.  As always, you're welcome to bring a guest, and RSVPs are appreciated but not required.  This quarter we'll have tarot readings, wine tasting, and a special guest DJ.

3) We'll be touring the offices of the Long Now Foundation at Fort Mason Center (2 Marina Blvd. Fort Mason Center Bldg. A San Francisco, CA 94123) on Monday, December 12th at 7:00 pm.  You're welcome to bring a guest but please RSVP to sponsors@borderlands-books.com.

4) Bringing in the new year, we'll take a tour of the Speakeasy Brewery on Saturday, January 14th at 2:15 pm.  There will be a small charge for the tour and guests are welcome.

5) The first sponsor social of 2017 will be on Saturday, February 11th from 7 pm to 11 pm.

Jude, Scott and I are in the process of setting the sponsor event schedule for 2017 and we've got some fun stuff ahead for you.  Likely events are a "Buffy: The Musical" sing-along, a tour of the SF Center for the Book, rollerskating at The Church of Eight Wheels, and much more.