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?

The mile version:

1)  We're going to be hosting an event at the store with Paolo Bacigalupi, Hugo and Nebula award winning authors of The Windup Girl and The Water Knife, this Friday at 7:00 pm.  As a special treat for some of our sponsors, Paolo will be attending a private reception for a small group of you before the public event.  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 8 pm Wednesday, April 20th.

After the deadline, I'll draw names out of a "hat" to determine who will be attending.  The event is at 5:30 pm on Friday, April 22nd, one hour long, and walking distance from Borderlands.  Appetizers and nonalcoholic drinks will be included and the cost will be $10 (to defray food and venue expenses), payable in cash upon arrival.  Regrettably, it will not be possible to bring any guests.  I will be notifying the winners on Thursday afternoon and giving them further details.

Of course, the later 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 to reserve a seat.

2)  Huge thanks to all the sponsors who attended the public meeting and shared your thoughts and opinions.  You've given me a lot to think about and I really appreciate your time and attention.  In case you missed it, Laura Wenus from Mission Local covered the meeting and reported on it here:

Rather than take up a bunch of space here outlining what was discussed at the meeting, I'm going to put a post up at the sponsors' blog going into detail about the meeting.  You can find that here - .  Also, with a little bit of luck, I should have the video up shortly.  Watch the blog < > and our Twitter feed < @bl_sponsors > to find out when that is up.

Out of everything that was discussed at the meeting, the two items most on my mind are, first off, the idea of a book subscription service.  We talked a bunch about that and a couple of things were clear.  One, people were hesitant to sign up for a membership that included all four of our genres.  People were either into SF and fantasy or they wanted horror and mystery. Two, it was suggested that there could be a book club meeting associated with the book each month.  But, generally, people seemed to think it was a good idea.

The other thing was pretty brain-bendy for me, and I'm still trying to figure out what it means to our plans.  I wanted to get an idea how close we could get to the down payment for a building by just reaching out to our sponsors.  So, I asked the 49 or so people attending the meeting how much they would put up, right now, if it would mean we could buy a building and go a long, long way towards assuring Borderlands' future.  I asked for a show of hands and started at $200.  Then I kept bringing up the amount.  Though it was not very precise and was based on the feelings of people who were invested enough in Borderlands to come to a boring meeting on a Thursday night, the result really shocked me.  In total, the people present "pledged" (if you can use that term) $76,000.

Given that we have over 600 sponsors and my estimate of the minimum needed for a down-payment is $300,000 . . . it's possible that we could raise enough for a building.  Right now. Without reaching beyond our current sponsors.

Now, I'm not suggesting that is what I should or will do but -- it certainly makes me think that the idea that we could buy a building is not out of reach.  In fact, it's making me think that it is very much within our grasp.  Now it's a matter of figuring out the details of the most efficient, cost-effective, ethical and smart way to go at it.  Hence my question at the beginning of this letter.

3)  I'm grateful to sponsor Joe Thomas, who has very graciously offered to host a blind wine tasting for sponsors on Friday, April 29th at 8pm.  Here's the way it will work: We'll be hosting the event in the bookstore.  You're welcome to show up early, if you like, or just come to the door at eight or so.  Joe and some of his partners in crime will be bringing the wine, with covered labels, and we'll be pouring and chatting about what we think, guided by Joe, for a few hours.  We might even have a prize or two for the folks with the best (or luckiest) palates.  This will be a very low key event and so, if you don't know much about wine, this is a perfect chance to get your "feet" wet.

There is small charge for this event: $10, which will go into the Borderlands' Building Fund, and attendance is limited, so please RSVP as soon as possible.  Oh, and please do be over 21 years old.  It also might be a good idea if you've had dinner before you arrive.  The glasses are pretty darn small but there might be a lot of them.

4)  Thanks to everyone who attended the last Sponsor Social.  I had a great time, and I hope you did, too.  The next social will take place on Thursday, July 14th.  Also big thanks to the folks from Fly By Night Gifts < > and Speakeasy Brewery < >, who were our guests at the party.  Fly By Night brought a lovely selection of boxes and jewelry, while the folks from Speakeasy provided some absolutely extraordinary beer for the pleasure of our guests.

5)  May's sponsor event will be a demonstration about perfume making with Megan E. O'Keefe.  Megan, the author of Steal The Sky, isn't just a great writer and wonderful speaker.  She's also a expert on blending perfume.  Last year she offered to host a participatory demonstration about perfume making for our sponsors.  I'm very pleased that I'm finally able to take her up on that offer.  We'll have more details about that event next month.

6)  As usual, your feedback and ideas are one of the things that have made and continue to make the sponsor program such a success and pleasure.  If you feel inclined, I've got 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?
Getting the live-streaming of events working has been a real trial.  Jeremy and I are making some solid inroads but it's still hard going.  We're happy to finish the job but, if it doesn't matter much to you, it's much more straight-forward to record the events and put 'em up on You Tube.

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?
It's still bugging me that so many of the perks of being a sponsor require your physical presence in the shop.  So, I'm looking for ideas about things I can do to make it better for you out-of-towners.

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