Monday, April 18, 2016

Sponsor Letter, April 18th 2016

Hi Dear Sponsors,

First off, I'm really sorry that this note is so late this month.  April gave me, among other things, the glorious opportunity to do four tax returns for various people and entities (only one of which was for myownself).  And, to add to the fun, two of them were really damn complicated.  But, just today I sent off the last piece of all that and things are looking much better going into the rest of the year.  Here's hoping that my May letter will be, if not on time, at least less tardy.

The Sponsors' General Meeting was quite a success.  Many good questions and excellent observations were asked and made.  There's more information about that further along in this note.  But, even if you don't read any of the rest of this letter, I'd really appreciate it if you could answer one question that came out of the meeting for me.

We're heading towards raising the money to purchase Borderlands a building, as I've discussed here before.  A question asked at the meeting was, "If you do raise a bunch of money (i.e. over $150,000 to $200,000) but it's not enough to buy a building and so Borderlands closes in five years -- what will happen to all that cash?"

The answer to that question comes in several parts, and I'll get into it in more detail over the next few months but, part of the answer is that I would donate at least a significant portion of the money to either a bookselling / literary cause (for example, the Freedom to Read Foundation - or a cause / association related to our genres (e.g. the Science Fiction Writers of America's Emergency Medical Fund -

My question to you is; if that came to pass -- we raised a bunch of money but it wasn't enough to buy a building so I closed Borderlands -- where do you think the money should go?

The inch version:

1) We'll be hosting a private reception for a small group of sponsors with Paolo Bacigalupi THIS FRIDAY, April 22nd, at 5:30 pm before his public event at the store.  If you're a 2016 sponsor and 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 below).

2) Thank you to everyone who attended the Sponsors' General Meeting to offer your input and your opinions.  You've given me a lot to think about and I'm grateful.  A full report can be found on the blog at

3) April's sponsor event is a blind wine tasting with sponsor Joe Thomas on Friday, April 29th at 8pm.  Attendance is limited, so please RSVP as soon as possible.

4) We had a great time at the sponsor social, and we hope you did, too!  The next one is Thursday, July 14th.

5)  The May sponsor event will be a perfumery demonstration with Megan E. O'Keefe, author of Steal The Sky.  Date and time in the next sponsor letter.

6)  A couple of questions for you -
a)  Does it matter to you if we put our author events on the web live or would you be just as happy with a video on YouTube within a day or two after the event?
b)  For sponsors who do not live near the shop -- Do you have any ideas what sort of things we at Borderlands can do for you, since it's hard for you to take advantage of many of the perks we can offer local sponsors?

Report on 2016 Sponsors' General Meeting

The 2016 Borderlands Sponsors' General Meeting was held at 6pm on Thursday, March 31st at Borderlands Cafe (870 Valencia St.  SF  CA 94110).  Roughly 50 people attended.

After some entertainment from Alan Beatts in the form of a cautionary tale about bookshelf building, the main topics of discussion were the future of the bookstore, a (relatively) rapid-fire Q&A, the handling of sponsor funds, political involvement on the part of Borderlands, and the creation of a book subscription program.

Alan began the meeting by giving an overview of the current financial situation of both the bookstore and cafe elements of Borderlands.  In brief, both are as to be expected.  The bookstore is showing a slight loss before accounting for sponsorship income.  That is as expected since the minimum wage increase last July was expected to produce that result. However, factoring in sponsorship income, the bookstore is doing very well.  The cafe is also showing a slight loss but that is being addressed by improvements to the menu selection this year.  Like the bookstore, not a matter for concern.

Next he explained the remaining terms on both the lease for the bookstore (5 and a bit years) and the cafe (9 and a half years).   His concern is not for the next few years because the sponsorship program (with 611 sponsors at this time) seems to be a sustainable model for the business.  Instead the concern is what to do when the current lease on the bookstore expires. It is the expectation that, barring major ("or almost Biblical") changes in the economic situation in San Francisco, the cost of rent under a new lease would be unsustainable.  At this point, Alan's plan forward is to spend the next three to four years raising money (and conserving excess sponsorship income) to have a down-payment on a building one to two years before the lease expires.

After this explanation, the discussion began about how to achieve this goal.