Friday, October 9, 2015

Sponsor Letter October 9th, 2015

Hi Sponsors,

Here we are, heading into the end of the year already.  At least, for business guys like me, this is the beginning of the end -- 4th quarter, here we go.  As you're probably aware, we're coming up on our last Sponsor Social for 2015.  It's on the 24th of this month and now-ish is a good time to RSVP.  As always, you don't have to let us know if you're coming, but it is nice to have an idea how many folks are going to show up.  You're welcome to bring a guest, and you'll find more details about the party near the end of this note.

Sponsorships for 2016 - Thank to you everyone who took the time to share their thoughts about when we should begin accepting sponsorships for next year.  The comments I received were all thoughtful, well-considered, and on point (in other words, pretty much the _exact_ opposite of the comments section on any given website).  After thinking about it, I've decided to wait to start accepting sponsorships until January 1st (or, more likely, the 2nd).  However, we may be able to accept payment information early and actually charge people's credit cards at the beginning of the year.  I'll have more information about that next month.  Anyway, mark your calendars and set your alarms for January 2nd.  But, if you forget, don't worry -- I'll remind you.

Looking forward into 2016, I've got some neat plans for the store in general and our sponsors in specific.  I haven't wanted to put much money into the business because I wanted to see how things work next year.  However, assuming that we meet our sponsorship goals (or even exceed them), I think it'll be time to make some long-term investments.  One of the things at the top of the list is dragging our event capacities into the 21st century.  I hope to get the hardware and systems in place so that we can live-stream our author events over the internet. At the same time, I'll be upgrading our sound system so that, regardless where you're sitting in the cafe (or even browsing in the bookstore), you'll be able to hear the author clearly.  I also should be able to make the long-planned expansion of the store space into a reality that will give us much, much more room for both new and used books.  Finally, if time allows, I may build out and open the backyard area of the cafe to give us some pleasant outdoor seating. Any and all of those things should be nice improvements, for everyone who visits the shop and cafe.

But, for our sponsors, I've got a couple other ideas.  February is a pretty slow month, for everyone it seems, and certainly for the bookstore, and it's a perfect time to start working on writing projects.  Since so many of our sponsors are writers, I'm thinking that doing a series of presentations geared towards both professional and beginning writers would be great.  I'm planning a month-long schedule of two-hour events including; an overview of how the publishing process works, from delivery of the manuscript to the book arriving on the shelves; a discussion of what makes a good (or bad) publishing contract; an explanation and demonstration of how to give a great reading of your work; a how-to presentation on podcasting; and, perhaps, a panel of experienced authors talking about the pitfalls of the business.

But, since not all sponsors are writers but they are all readers, I'm also working on a year-long series of chapbooks of original fiction, that will only be available to our sponsors.  I can't mention the names of any of the contributors yet but I think there will be some nice surprises on the list.  However, that's all in the future.  Here's what is going on in the present:

Tuesday Night Cocktails - We've been having quite a good time on Tuesdays nights at the Pilsner Inn, but a number of folks have pointed out to me that 9 pm is a little bit late for people who don't work bookseller's hours.  So, we're going to try getting together a bit earlier and see how that works for a couple of months.  Instead of 9 pm to midnight, you'll find us there starting at 7 pm every Tuesday and we'll be around 'til at least 10 pm.  You can find the Pilsner at 225 Church Street, near Market Street <>.  There's a nice backyard (where you'll usually find us), an excellent selection of beer on tap, good cocktails and a charming lack of pretension.  The staff have no problem with people bringing in outside food and there are several great places to eat near by (notably Chow (American), Miyabi (Japanese), and Sparky's (basic diner)) so you can even get dinner too, if you like.

Anniversary Sale - Just in time for the elections, Borderlands is about to turn 18 (anyone want to guess who the store wants to be Mayor?).  In honor of that we're going to have a sale on Sunday, November 8th.  Everything in the store will be 18% off, plus there'll be cake and, perhaps, visits from the current crop of hairless Borderlands kitties.  Because our sponsors are the best people on the planet, we're going to open two hours early so you get first shot at the sale and cats.  Bring your card, patch or just be ready to identify yourself and come to the connecting door from the cafe between ten am and noon (the bookstore door will stay locked 'til noon).  We'll let you in from there.  And, for your sponsors who live out of town, we'll give you the discount for mail order purchases too.  If you want to take advantage of that, please drop Jude an email and she'll give you all the details -

Sponsors' Open Mic - At the end of last month we hosted our first Sponsors' Open Mic.  Thanks to the outstanding organizational work of Greg Roensch, it was quite a success.  The turnout was good and all the readers said that they had a great time.  The upshot is that we'll be doing it again on January 22nd next year.  I'll give you specific details on how to sign up next month.  There will be a limited number of readers and, to give everyone a chance to participate, Greg will be giving preference to people who did not read last time.  But, that's not to suggest that you shouldn't sign-up if you did read last time -- we just wanted to give you fair warning that we may not be able to accommodate everyone.

Hiring for the Cafe - I'm looking for one more staff person to work at the cafe.  As Jude mentioned in the last store newsletter, "We're asking you because we always prefer to "keep it in the family," and hire our customers and associates (and our customers' associates) with whom we already have a rapport."  I primarily need someone who can work weekday mornings and afternoons.  If you know someone who might be interested, just ask them to send me a resume at

Upcoming Special Event - Join NASA Ames geologist (and Borderlands sponsor) Orkan Umurhan for an absolutely fascinating, sponsors-only presentation about the New Horizons mission to Pluto on Tuesday, October 27th at 6:30pm.  Orkan is a geologist on the New Horizon's team and he'll discuss several aspects of the mission, including the spacecraft design (it's only the size of a grand piano), the naming scheme for features (there's a black mass, originally called "the whale," that's now referred to as Cthulhu), and other amazing discoveries (there appear to be nitrogen ice glaciers on Pluto's surface!).  I've seen some of the pictures that he'll be showing at this event (he came by the Pilsner for a drink last week) and they are just unbelievable.  And the geology and physics are mind-blowing (imagine a "sea" of nitrogen ice with floating "bergs" of water ice that are slowly swallowed by the "currents" -- that's semi-theoretical a this point but . . . damn).  Seating will be limited so if you haven't RSVPed already, you might want to do so now.  (Space for this event is limited, so for this one we unfortunately will not be able to accommodate guests.)

And, last but not least --
The Fourth Sponsor Social
As I mentioned at the beginning of this note, the next social is coming up.  It will be on Saturday, October 24th, from 7 pm to 11 pm.  We'll have the usual elements (some nice books to give away courtesy of our friends in publishing, door prizes, endless chatting about books and so forth) as well as some special features.

Custom Bags from Rickshaw Bagworks - At the party in June the lovely folks from Rickshaw < > came down and took orders for custom messenger bags, backpacks, and laptop bags featuring the Borderlands Sponsor's logo.  Everyone had a great time coming up with designs in their own particular . . idiom.  And, moreso, the folks from Rickshaw had a great time too.  So much so that they said they'd like to come back again. So, we will again be giving you all a chance to order top-quality, locally-made bags to show your Sponsor pride.  The 30% discount off of the retail price is really just icing on the cake.  PS - If you already got a bag, please do bring it along to show off.  People made some . . . impressive . . . color choices last time (Yes, Seanan McGuire, I'm looking at you).

Cocktails from Cannella Spirits - Cannella Cinnamon Cordial is hand-crafted right here in San Francisco by Joe Cannella and his family <>.  If Fireball whisky is the Dark side, filled with high-fructose corn syrup and anti-freeze, then Cannella is the Light side, with all-natural ingredients and a commitment to civilized socializing.  Joe will be on hand making tasty adult beverages for you as well as talking about the history of his cordial.  With fall coming I think it's a perfect time for a warm, spicy cocktail so this is a perfect fit.

Costumes - Since the party is only one week before Halloween, it's a perfect chance to "road-test" your costume in a (notionally) controlled environment.  Though it's not required by any means, please do feel both free and encouraged to dress up.  We had considered doing an actual contest but today Scott, Jude and I came up with a couple of better ideas.  First off, we'll have a "photo booth" of sorts;  at the rear of the cafe there'll be an area with seating, decent lighting and a few "props" that will be perfect for photos.  You'll have to bring you own camera but hell, everyone's phone has one of the damn things now, right?

We're also going to give people with outstanding and notable costumes some small part of the recognition they deserve.  Every one in costume will be given a numbered badge and all the attendees will be given voting "tickets".  The attendees merely write the number of their favorite costume on the ticket, and drop it in the box at the counter.  Near the end of the evening we'll add up the votes and announce the top three costumes.

Food and Drink - As always, we'll be doing the usual BYOB and pot-luck refreshments.  You don't have to bring anything to eat or drink but, it is the fall cooking season so, much like the costumes, this is a great chance to field-test your recipes.  Remember, as is consistent with our goal of saving sponsorship funds for the support of the store, all the staff are volunteers, and the food and drink is brought by the attendees.

Thanks, as always for the time, attention and, most of all, the support.

Warmest Regards,

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