Friday, December 1, 2017

Sponsor Letter, December 1st 2017

Hi Everyone,

Before I jump into the rest of this note, I have an apology to make.  I try to reply rapidly to email in general and especially to emails from you all.  However, it's been a hell of a couple of months (in both the best and worst ways).  As a result, I've been very remiss in getting back to people unless the topic was urgent.  If you've sent me an email in the past month or two and haven't heard back from me -- I'm not ignoring you and I will write back.  It's just been pretty hard staying on top of everything of late.

Also, before I go much further, I wanted your opinion about something.  We're planning a sponsors' trip to Alcatraz in April.  It'll be in the evening around 6:30 pm.  I'm not sure whether it makes more sense to schedule it for a Thursday night or a Saturday night.  Would you let me know what would be best for you (assuming that it's something you'd like to come along for)?

Building Update
I'm sure that you're all curious how the process with the building is going.  Yesterday I did the final walk-through with the previous owner, Bruce, to confirm that he had moved all his stuff out and cleaned up.  With the help of the folks at The Internet Archive, he got the whole job done on time.  He and I chatted for a bit and then he handed off the keys.  So, now it's all ours.

Last Friday, with the help of many volunteers, Melinda (our gardener) and I got all the ivy out of the backyard.  In all, we took five truckloads of debris for disposal.  The yard looks pretty bleak now but we see a blank canvas full of possibilities.  We're working on the design right now and I'll give you more information as we have it.

The next step is to do some demolition of the collapsing drop ceiling and some of the partition walls (I'll be working on that this Saturday -- tomorrow -- see below if you'd like to come lend a hand or just supervise).  I hope to have all that material out of the way by Monday because that's when I'll be meeting with our architect, Kevin J. Short <>, along with our likely choice of contractor for the seismic retrofit.  Kevin will also be drafting the "as-built" plans shortly.  Those plans, which show the building as it stands right now, will be the basis for both the retrofit and the other work that we'll do.

The first piece of interior work will be that soft-story seismic retrofit.  It's a job that ties into the fundamental structure of the building and so we want to get it done first, before any other work takes place.  After that, we'll get the bathroom upgraded to an ADA accessible state.  That job will include plumbing, which is also a very early part of the work that we'll do.  Once those two steps are complete, then we get into the electrical work, followed by the walls and ceilings.  When that is done, then it's time to repair and refinish the floors.  With all the surfaces complete, the last step will be building the shelves and getting the place ready to open.  While all that is going on, Melinda will be working on the garden and I'll be taking care of all the little details.

At this point, there are too many variables to make even an educated guess at how long the process will take.  I'm hoping for a May opening but, please, don't hold me to that.

I hope to have some pictures up at the sponsor's blog within a week or two.  I'll send out a note when that is done (that same note will probably let you know that we're ready to accept on-line pre-orders for 2018 sponsorship renewals).

Work Day at Haight Street
As I mentioned, I'll be doing demolition work at Haight Street on Saturday, December the 2nd, from 11 am to 4 pm (and, perhaps later).  It's going to be a fun but messy job (sheetrock, plaster, and dust).  If you'd like to lend a hand and you haven't already expressed an interest, drop me a line by replying to this email and I'll get you all the details.  (By the way, if you're interested in how buildings are put together and taken apart, you will find this day's work very educational.)

Sponsorship Renewals
Jeremy and I are getting the on-line pre-orders for 2018 sponsorships set up right now.  We plan to have it ready to go by December 15th if not sooner.  I'll be sending out a note letting you know that it's ready just as soon as it is, in fact, ready.

Pre-Order Anniversary Hoodies
We've already sold out of almost our entire first order of the nifty, embroidered, sponsor-only, anniversary hoodies (seriously, they look great  If you haven't gotten one yet (or if we ran out of your size) please reply to this email with the size that you would like (remember, they are a very tailored fit, so you might want to go up a size larger than usual).  We'll be placing an order for the second run in the middle of this month so please do get in touch soon. Also, we're happy to ship them anywhere on the planet (one of the first orders went to NYC) so don't hold back just 'cause you're out of town.  They are $55 each and shipping varies depending on distance.  Also, if you're looking for a nice gift for your bookish friends, we have the standard silk-screened version for sale as well.  Same price and, although not as cool as the embroidered ones, they still sport Michelle Rapp's lovely anniversary design.

Holiday Package Delivery
As a reminder, we're happy to accept packages at the shop for all sponsors.  If you're concerned that delivery to your home might be a problem, please do take advantage of this.  Just have it addressed
<your name>, Sponsor
c/o Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St.
SF  CA 94110
and we'll give you a call or email as soon as it arrives.  We do ask that, since we have an awful lot of packages arriving this month, you please make an effort to come by to pick it up as soon as possible.

Upcoming Sponsor Events
The Buzz-Cut version:

(1) Sunday, December 10th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm - Dickens' Fair. We are gathering at the Cow Palace to celebrate the holidays in Victorian England. We need to hit a minimum of 20 attendees to make the group rate of $20.00, so invite all your friends. Pre-payment is required to get the reduced ticket price.

(2) Tuesday, December 26th at 7:00 pm - Sponsor Cocktails.  Who doesn't love drinking at Churchill?  We will definitely be out again this month at the same location and time to enjoy the company of fellow sponsors.  Meet us at Churchill, 198 Church Street at Market Street.

(3) Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:00 pm - Sponsor Cocktails at Churchill again!

(4) Saturday, January 27th at 7:00 pm -- Sponsor Social, Borderlands Bookstore and Cafe.

(5) Saturday, February 10th at 4:00 pm - Tour and Tasting at Anchor Brewery. $25.00 per person, which includes tour and tasting.  One guest only, space will be limited.

(6) Friday, March 16th at 7:00 pm - Roller Skating at Church of 8 Wheels

(7) April - Alcatraz Nighttime Tour.  Details to come.

The Chewbacca version:

(1) Sunday, December 10th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm -- Dickens' Fair at The Cow Palace. We are gathering at The Cow Palace on Sunday, December 10th at 1:00 pm to enjoy the sights and sounds of nineteenth-century London. Shuttle is available to and from the Glen Park BART station every 30 minutes to the Cow Palace. We will have a discounted rate of $20.00 per person and you're welcome to bring any many guests as you wish. You can call the store with a credit card number or drop by to pay in advance with credit card, cash or check before December 5th. Please invite your friends and family to come join us that day to make it Borderlands excursion to remember.  Costumes are encouraged but not required.  (See the Costume Guidelines for assistance:

(2) Tuesday, December 26th at 7:00 pm -- Sponsor Cocktails.  Our next Monthly Sponsor Cocktail night will be at Churchill (198 Church Street at Market) <>; 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.

(3) Tuesday, January 23rd at 7:00 pm -- Sponsor Cocktails at Churchill again!

(4) Saturday, January 27th at 7:00 pm -- Sponsor Social at Borderlands Books and Cafe.  We're still running a bit behind after all the excitement over the last months, so the details of this first social of the year are still being arranged. But mark your calendar now!

(5) Saturday, February 10th at 4:00 pm - Tour and Tasting at Anchor Brewery. $25.00 per person.  From their website <>: "You’ll get a brief history of our company and a walk through three floors of our brewery. And yes, there’s a tasting session immediately to follow. Together, the brewery tour and the beer tasting last for about 1.5 hours."  There will only be 10 spaces in our group so you're welcome to bring only one guest.  Prepayment will be required - please RSVP by replying to this note and we'll make payment arrangements with you.  1705 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94107

(6) Friday, March 16th at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm - Roller Skating at Church of 8 Wheels. 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.  Please feel free to bring as many friends as you would like.  We'll follow up with drinks at The Toronado (over 40 beers on tap -, 547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117.

(7) April -- Alcatraz Night Tour.  The tour of Alcatraz Island at night is supposed to be much cooler than the usual daytime one. We'd love to have you join us for this event.  Look for complete information in our next sponsor note.

20th Anniversary Hoodie

I tried to find a better model but the choices this afternoon were . . . limited.  So you're stuck with me.  To give an idea of sizing, I'm 6' 1" and weigh about 135 lbs (yes, I am, in fact one scrawny, bean-pole of a bookseller).  The hoodie I'm wearing is a extra large (I normally wear a large).  They really are cut for quite a trim fit.

Here's the rear, which is the best part (arguably of both the hoodie and yours truly).

And here's a closer view of Michelle Rapp's lovely design.

Really, I'm very happy to be modeling this hoodie.  Really.  I'm . . . happy.  You will note that the logo on the front indicates that this is the sponsors' only version (as if the embroidery didn't give it away).

I have a long neck and most hoodies don't actually cover my head properly.  They end up looking like the beanie version of a hood.  Not so with this one.  I can actually do the full-on, "dark, cowled figure" in this get up*.  The hood here is actually pulled back a bit so you can see my "Welcome to Borderlands, please check your cash, soul and weapons at the door" smile.

Seriously though, they really are pretty darn nice hoodies and we're only going to do one more run of them, so email your order to soon.

* Note: The "full-on, dark, cowled figure look"(tm) assumes appropriate shadows and stormy sky in the background.  Why do they make bookstores so darn bright?  It completely cramps my style.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sponsor Letter, November 13th 2017

Hello Dear Sponsors,

First off, thank you for being patient with my recent silence (although, given how I have been flooding your mail boxes over the past month, you might have enjoyed the break).  After the combination of going a month without a day off, being out of town at the World Fantasy Convention, and then catching up on everything that I had let slide over the last month (bookkeeping, for one) . . . well, let's just say I needed a little breather.

Before I dive into the current building news, let me catch you up on our upcoming events.  Right now we've only a few scheduled -

Saturday, November, 18th, 10 am to 11 pm (yup, you read the time right) - Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party (and Sponsor Social) - All the details are at the end of this note but the short version is:
Noon to 6 pm - Author signings galore (including folks like Gail Carriger, Richard Kadrey, and Peter Beagle) plus staff recommended books at cost, cake, and DJ Steve Boyett.
6 pm to 7 pm - We'll be setting up for the social but you're welcome to hang out.
7pm to 11 pm - Sponsor Social!  Indian food to die for, lotsa drinks, more DJ, silly stories from Alan, door prizes, much talk of Haight Street and world domination.
11 pm to ??? - If you're still standing (I don't need to be standing -- Jude's got a wheelbarrow for me), close-down drinks across the street at the Phoenix Pub.

Tuesday, November 28th at 7 pm - Sponsor Cocktails at Churchill
We're continuing our Monthly Sponsor Cocktail night at Churchill (198 Church Street at Market) <>; 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.

Sunday, December 10th, 2 pm to 6 pm - Dickens Fair
We're going to Dickens Fair as a group <>.  We've arranged group tickets for $20 per person and there's no limit to the number of people who can come so please feel free to bring friends, family, children, strangers you met at the bar last night, and so on.  If you'd like to come, please drop us a line by replying to this email and include the number of people you will be bringing.  We'll get back to you and make arrangements for pre-payment for the tickets.  Look for car-pooling information in the next sponsor note.

In the next sponsor note I'll have the schedule of events for the first part of next year, details about sponsorship renewals, mail order information for anniversary hoodies and lots of other news.  But for now, we still need to work out all those details.

Now, some news about our new building.  First off, it's paid for and escrow will close on Tuesday.  I've got a long piece explaining where we go from here in the store newsletter, which I'll be sending out shortly after (or, perhaps, before) this note.  Something that I'm not mentioning in the newsletter is that we've got an official building historian and he's been damn busy over the past few weeks.

Zach Harper has been a sponsor since the very beginning (and part of the first 300 -- #260 to be precise).  He got interested in finding out a bit about the history of 1377 Haight St. and did a bit of digging.  And then he caught the city-history bug (something that afflicts Jude and I, BTW).  He's still working on the previous occupants of the building but he's got an awful lot of the history nailed down already.  You can see his work thus far at - .  It's so cool what he's found -- from the original advertisement when the lot was sold at auction through the old Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and even bios of the owners and the architect.  We are still very short on historic pictures of the place so, if you run across any, drop me a line and I'll pass them along to him.

In other building news, I'm going to be hanging around the place this Thursday, November the 16th, from 4 pm to 8 pm.  If you'd like to come down, take a look at the space, say hi, and chat with me about layout and future plans -- I'd love to see you and show off our new House on the Borderland.  The address is 1377 Haight St. and it's just east of Masonic Avenue.

I'm really looking forward to seeing you, either at the building, at the party, or at Dickens Fair.  We really do have an awful lot to celebrate!

All Best,

Complete Anniversary Party Details

Borderlands 20th Anniversary Party, Saturday, November 18th, 10 am to 6 pm - We're celebrating two decades of bookselling with an all-day party.  At noon, the store will open to the general public and the fun really starts.  We'll have a rotating lineup of some of our favorite local authors signing their work in half-hour blocks. The schedule is:

12:00 pm: Dana Fredsti, Nick Mamatas, Megan E. O'Keefe, and Tim Pratt; 1:00 pm: Peter S. Beagle, Michael Blumlein, Becca Gomez Farrell, and Nancy Jane Moore; 2:00 pm: Richard Kadrey, Ellen Klages, and Pat Murphy; 3:00 pm: Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz; 4:30 pm: Cara Black and Kelli Stanley; 5:00 pm: Steve Boyett & Ken Mitchroney, Gail Carriger, and Katherine Kerr.

Also, as long as supplies last, we'll have our staff's selection of their all-time favorite books for sale at our cost as a "thank you" for 20 wonderful years of bookselling.  Last but not least, we'll be unveiling our limited edition anniversary hoodie featuring a lovely design by Michelle Rapp.  It's right on time for the chilly season and would make a great holiday present for the booklover in your life.

At four, the music starts, courtesy of DJ Steve Boyett of Groovelectric and Podrunner fame - (since there's going to be music, we might just have to start our afternoon cocktails around then, too).  Also at four there will be an extraordinary cake, thanks to the incomparable Madeleine Robins.

Then come 6 pm we'll be closing early to get ready for our last sponsor party of 2017.  We hope you'll join us for an incredible day!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Building Update #10 - Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Hi Everyone,

We've finished negotiations about the price reduction on the building.  There was a little back and forth but not as much as I expected.  Thanks to the fast work of Diarmuid MacNiell and Jon Fitzgibbon, we had estimates for a total of roughly $115,000 of repair work.  Specifically; repairing the retaining wall in the backyard, sorting out the funky framing in the basement, doing a soft-story retrofit, and replacing the roof.

The negotiation was pretty fast since two of those items we knew about going in (the roof and the soft-story).  It would be pretty disingenuous to say that we hadn't considered those costs when we made our offer and so we started asking for $70,000 off.  With a little back-and-forth, we settled for $41,000 off the agreed price.  Since the two things we didn't know about going in (the basement and the retaining wall) were estimated at at total of $42,000, I think we did pretty well.  I might have been happier with an extra thousand dollars but, when we're doing a two-million-plus dollar deal, $1000 is kind of small change.  I didn't think it was worth fighting over.

So, excluding closing costs, the final price was $2,259,000.  And that feels really darn good.  It also means we've got a bit of a surplus since we were aiming for a $100,000 repairs budget and now we've got $141,000.  I think that the best plan is to get the repairs done and then see where we stand.  I expect that I'll use the surplus to pay off some loans early but we'll see how things shake out once the hammers hit the nails.

The most exciting thing is that all the contingencies have been removed as of this evening.  Since those are the only ways out of the deal for both the buyer and the seller, with them taken care of it's just a matter of finishing the escrow period and then were done.  Translation -- there isn't any work left to do (other than lots of planning) and it's very unlikely that anything is going to happen at this point to derail the deal.

I'm going to be talking with the seller to see if we can close sooner.  There isn't an advantage to taking a longer time and, the sooner it's closed, the sooner we can get in there and start working.  I'll probably need to give the seller more time to get his stuff out of the place (since it's reasonable to figure that he planned on being out based on the original closing date) but that won't stop us from tearing out ivy, cleaning up the basement, getting measurements taken and plans drawn up.

It's all coming together very nicely.

Which is good; because I'm on a plane tomorrow at 7 am for San Antonio and the World Fantasy Convention.  I'll be back in town Monday night and back at work on Tuesday.  If you're going to the convention, make sure you let me know and I'll get you an invitation to our Sponsors' Scotch tasting on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm.

Since I'll be at the convention and running around quite a bit, please forgive me if I'm less responsive than usual to email.  Scott Cox is coming along and so he'll be a bit slow in the email department as well.

Thank you all for everything you've done for Borderlands over the years.  Day after tomorrow will be exactly 20 years to the day since I opened the shop's doors in Hayes Valley.  It's been a hell of a trip and I'm looking forward to the next 20 years with unbridled hope and excitement.  At the beginning of 2015, I never imagined that we'd all be here and doing this.

All Best,

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Building Update #9 - WE DID IT!

As of about 60 minutes ago, we had enough funds in the bank to pay for the building.  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.  We all did.  My part was suggesting that the world could be different and that something kind of crazy might be possible.  You all, our sponsors and the folks who lent us money and those that supported us in a hundred other ways, too -- you're the people who changed how people can look at the world and you expanded the idea of what is possible.  And I would expect no less from lovers of speculative and fantastic literature.

First, you did it by being sponsors and allowing us to continue to operate.  Then you proved that idea wasn't just a one-shot, flash-in-the-pan but that it was a viable idea for the long term (we have more sponsors this year than last year; the program is growing, not shrinking).  Those things were the basis and foundation that gave me the confidence and hope to try what we just accomplished.

And we did this:  49 lenders in total, $1.9 million dollars, in 18 days.

Thank you all for making a dream come true and showing just how powerful a like-minded, reasonable group of people can be.

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.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Building Update #8 - Right Down to the Wire

Funds on Deposit - $1,777,500              Days Left - 1


Of course this whole thing had to end up with a photo-finish.  And, of course, this couldn't end on any day other than Halloween.  I mean really . . . why did any of us think otherwise?

As you can see above, we are really, truly, awful goddam close.  But we're not quite there yet.

I fully expect that I'll see one or two deposits at the bank tomorrow that will take us right across the $1.8 million line.  As soon as I see them, I'll let you all know.

If I don't see those deposits, don't worry.  I'm not going to let a measly $22,500 stop us after we've raised so much.  That figure can be covered by the deposit reserve that I have at the store.  It can also probably be covered if all of us at the bookstore clean out our rainy-day reserves.  There are a dozen ways we can raise that in time.

But, dammit, I really hoped to be writing a different note today.

However, see my comment above -- it kind of had to work out this way.

As a good friend often says, "Now that's out of the way, how about a bright, shiny change of topic?"

What Do We Do First?
Dan, our realtor, asked me a couple days ago, "So, once escrow is closed and Bruce has his stuff out of there, what's the first thing you're going to do?"

In reply, I asked, "Do you mean in general or with the retail space?"

He chuckled and said he was asking about the retail space.

"First off, a lotta people, a lotta beer, a lotta whisky, and probably some pizza," was my answer.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Building Update #7

Funds on Deposit - 1,692,500              Days Left - 4

Greetings and Salutations,

You may notice that I've changed the heading at the top of this note from "Funds Raised" to "Funds on Deposit".  The reason for that is we're really in the final days of this gig and it's reached a point where it doesn't matter what people have promised us -- the only thing that matters, for the sake of this project, is what is in the bank come Halloween.  So, rather than including what people have said they're going to do, the number at the top of this note is only what is on deposit.  Don't worry though, we're not out of time by any means.  Even though today was the last day that I said would work for deposits, at the time I said I was allowing for a margin of error.  We've still got four days.  Wire transfers and cashiers checks will still be credited in time, even if they are wired (or handed off to me, for the checks), as late as the morning of the 31st.

Now that I've gotten the doom and gloom out of the way, here's the good news -- I'm almost sure we're gonna have the money in time.

I believe we're gonna get that building.