Monday, June 6, 2016

Sponsor Letter, June 6th 2016

Hi All,

First, I want to thank all the sponsors who took time to talk with me about the various schemes that might allow us to purchase a building.  As I expected, they were a lovely group of people and I had a really nice time talking with them.  Beyond the pleasant conversation, there were also a bunch of great ideas that came out of those meetings.  That's the good news.

I subsequently spent a couple of hours discussing those ideas with the attorney who has been volunteering his time on this.  As a result of that conversation, it seems that most of the ideas aren't really viable.  The core problem is that we're in a unique position as a for-profit business.  It's common that people will want to donate financially to non-profit projects, but that doesn't really come up for businesses like Borderlands.  As a result, there doesn't seem to be any simple, safe and legal way to make it work.

Which brings up the question of making Borderlands a non-profit.  I'm still working on running that to ground and I'll be meeting with an attorney who specializes in non-profits in a couple of weeks.  But, the sense that I have at this point is that a non-profit structure isn't likely to be an option.  The basic reason is this -- creating a non-profit with a primary goal of running a bookstore that sells products at a profit is not likely to fly with the IRS.  It's possible that we could create a non-profit that did enough other things that the bookstore could be considered secondary to the overall operations of the non-profit.  But, in that case, I'd be running a pretty big non-profit and not doing very much bookselling.  Which is not something I want to do.

There's also the secondary problem that, to create a non-profit out of Borderlands, I'd either have to donate the whole business to the non-profit (which is unattractive because Borderlands is probably the most valuable thing I own) or the non-profit would need to buy the business from me (which is a transaction that would be looked at very, very carefully by both the IRS and the California Attorney General and, possibly / probably not approved).

So, as of now I'm working on one long-shot idea which, for legal reasons, I cannot discuss right now.  There probably won't be much progress on that 'til much later this year (perhaps around November) but I'll let you know as much as I can, as I know it.  Beyond that, I've come to a point where I need to back off from the idea of buying a building and let it percolate in the back of my mind for a couple of months.

But, really, that's fine.  It means I'll be able to put my attention back on smaller scale projects, both for the store and the sponsorship program.  You can expect to hear some noise around the shop as I work to finish off some construction projects.  And, I hope to get some of the other things I've talked about for you going (like videos of events on YouTube and so forth).

If you're wondering about the obstacles I ran into on the building project, I'd be happy to go into more detail.  Just drop me a line.  But, I'm going to be out of town for a week starting this Friday and my internet access will be limited, so please be patient if I'm not as fast as usual with my replies.

Before going on to our upcoming sponsor events, I've got one last thought about the question of our lease and a long-term home for Borderlands.  As of now, we have five years and three months remaining on our lease.  After that expires, we can move the bookstore into the cafe for another four years.  That's nine years altogether.  All sorts of things can happen in nine years and, like everything else in life, we'll just have to play it as it goes (I might work something out so we can buy a building . . . the landlord might give me a decent lease . . . there's no way of knowing what will happen).  But I know that we've got those nine years because of you all -- so, I think we're doing just great.  I also know that what we're doing is easier than teaching a horse to sing < >.

The Robert E. Howard Version

1)  Locked Room Puzzle.   Our sponsor event for the month of June is a locked-room mystery puzzle with the folks at PanIQ Room < >, and it will take place on Thursday, June 30th, at 8:30 pm.  Space is very limited (only 18 people can participate) and the fee will be $25 per person.  You're welcome to bring a guest.  If you're interested, please RSVP to

2)  The next sponsor social is coming up on Thursday, July 14th.  You can RSVP now if you wish or wait 'til next month.  As usual, you're welcome to bring a guest.

3)  In August our special event will be a Scotch Whisky tasting with noted author, Mary Robinette Kowal.  The exact date is TBA.

4)  The 2016 list of sponsors has (finally) been posted at the store.

The Steven Erikson Version

1)  Locked Room Puzzle.
Scott was the person who turned us on to this.  Here's what he had to say about it, "We were given only a general description of what we were about to enter: a room large enough to fit 6 people, a themed interior space in which you'll be "locked up," and given 60 minutes in which to solve "the puzzle".  Even for a room full of gamers, this was incredibly challenging and I'm sad to say, we had to have a clue or two thrown our way.  The beauty of this environmental theme is how complete it felt.  We were able to immerse ourselves in the story and live out our secret fantasy of being that super-CSI team that saves the day.  You could feel the palpable energy of teamwork as we engaged every brain cell we collectively owned.  Alas, time ran out for us, but we laughed our asses off, called clues out (yelling when we figured a major piece of the puzzle) and left planning our next trip to another of the themed rooms.  I highly, highly recommend trying your hand at crime scene detective work with this evening of live-action role playing."

We've arranged to book all three of the rooms at the facility.  Unusually for our events, we're going to need to ask for $25 payment in advance and no refunds will be possible (we'll make payment arrangements when you email to reserve your space).  I'm really looking forward to this and, I hope, there'll be room for me to play.  Space is quite limited and so we'll only be able to accommodate 18 "players" (you can bring one guest if you like).  It's on Thursday, June 30th, starts at 8:30 pm and is located at 750 Hyde St. (at Sutter St. - 94109).  You can find more details about the venue at

2)  The 7th Sponsor Social
The next sponsor social is coming up on Thursday, July 14th, from 7 pm to 11pm.  We're still determining who our beverage and retail guests will be but we'll have that info in the next note.  If you haven't been to one yet -- it's a bunch of fun; snacks, drinks, door prizes and, best of all, two whole rooms filled with people who like the same books (and bookstore) that you do.

3)  Whisky tasting with Mary Robinette Kowal
Last year Mary Robinette Kowal hosted a Scotch Whisky tasting that was a huge success.  The problem was we only had space for a third of the people who wanted to attend.  Thankfully, she's going to be back in town in August and said she'd love a return engagement.  The date is TBA right now but we'll have it for you soon.  There will be a small charge for the event (to offset the cost of drinks and such).

4)  2016 Sponsor List
The 2016 list of sponsors has (finally) been posted at the store.  I'm way behind on getting that done but it's finally finished.  If you happen to be by the shop, take a look and make sure your name appears correctly.

In closing, thanks as always for the support and I hope that your start-of-the-summer is treating you and yours very, very well.

All Best,

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