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Events and News from Borderlands Books

January, 2012

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Upcoming Author Events

Rudy Rucker, NESTED SCROLLS, (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, January 14th at 3:00 pm

Jo Walton, AMONG OTHERS (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99 and Trade Paperback, $14.99) Saturday, January 21st at 3:00 pm

Borderlands Discount Showing of Little Brother, The Play, Sunday, January 29tht at 7:00pm

SF in SF with authors Ryan Boudinot and Ayize Jama-Everett at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, (582 Market Street) Saturday, January 28th at 7:00 pm

Stephen Blackmoore, CITY OF THE LOST (DAW, Trade Paperback, $15.00) with special guest Mira Grant, Saturday, February 4th at 3:00 pm

Katharine Kerr, APOCALYPSE TO GO (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, February 11th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors KW Jeter and Jay Lake at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, (582 Market Street) Saturday, February 11th at 7:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)

Look for lots more amazing events in the upcoming months -- we're happy to host Tobias Buckell, Kim Harrison, Matt Ruff, and many, many others!


* Own a piece of Borderlands' history!  Over ten years ago, as we were planning on moving from our original Hayes Valley location to the Mission, Alan designed a new style of bookshelf for the store.  Examples of the final design are all over the store but, before the design was finalized, there was one prototype.  For years we have used that prototype to house our oversized art books and HP Lovecraft section, but it's time to move it along and replace it.  Rather than sell it, we want to give it to one of our customers so . . . if you're interested in a nice shelf and a piece of history, drop us an email saying so.  We'll pick the winner one week from today.  One warning though, it's _tall_ . . . very tall.  Slightly over 8 feet in height, it will not fit under the ceiling of most houses built later than 1950.  So please do grab a tape measure before emailing us.  Pictures and complete dimensions can be found here <>.

At that same page, you'll find pictures and details of a display case we're passing along.  Honestly, I expect that this one will have to go on CraigsList but I wanted to offer it to our customers (at a reduced price) first.  One warning goes with this one as well -- it is probably the heaviest single piece of furniture I've ever had to move.  You will need a truck and probably three other people to load it and unload it.  And I wouldn't even want to think about moving it up a flight of stairs.  If I list it on Craig's it'll be $50 but I'm happy to sell it to a customer for half that.  Let us know if you're interested.

* Jonathan Knapp from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts wanted to let everyone know about an upcoming screening of "The House by the Cemetery" from Lucio Fulci.  Here are the details: "'The House by the Cemetery" by Lucio Fulci, Jan 27, 2012, at 10:00pm & Jan 28, 2012, at 10:00pm  UNCUT GRINDHOUSE RARITY!  One of the best films by one of the greatest Italian exploitation directors, this is the “old dark house” genre by way of the grindhouse. In typical Fulci fashion, the movie sidesteps logic, instead reveling in gore and a truly haunting atmosphere. We are presenting a specially imported, fully uncut European 35mm print, dubbed in English and -- just to up the weirdness ante -- with Danish subtitles. Bring a phrasebook, and a barf bag. (1981, 86 min, 35mm)  Admission: $8 general • $6 YBCA members, students, seniors  Location: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St., San Francisco)  For more information: <>

* The Custom Made Theatre Company (the fine folks who are staging Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother") are offering a special deal for our customers!  Sunday, January 29th at 7:00 pm, Borderlands customers can see the show "Little Brother" for $20 per ticket, and the director and cast will be staying after the show for a Q&A!  Tickets can be purchased at, and the discount code is M1k3y.   There is no service fee. Tickets are picked up at will-call starting at 45 minutes before showtime, general admission seating begins 30 minutes before.
More info on the show at <>.  We hope you'll join us there -- many of the Borderlands staff will be attending!

* Borderlands Cafe now has a Twitter feed to keep you apprised of cafe happenings, things we overhear, and occasional specials!  Follow us @borderlandscafe.  Also, it's kind of silly, but we're really pleased to have exceeded 5000 followers for the store's Twitter feed, @borderlands_sf.

* Thanks, io9:  I'm not sure how I got along before I knew about the "Alien vs. Predator" Chess Board! <>

From the Office

What Happens When the Showrooms Go Away?
By Alan Beatts

In the aftermath of the holiday shopping season the consumer trends have turned out to be pretty much what anyone would have expected, other than people seeming to be willing to spend more money that was expected.  Barnes and Nobel, along with many independent booksellers, had a nice boost in sales due to Borders Books closing.  Even more stuff was bought on-line.  A little bit of a surprise was Amazon's offer to pay customers up to $5 to go into a local store, scan an item, walk out, and buy the same item on Amazon (a move that was decried by even some of the biggest tech and Amazon fans

That recent offer from Amazon got me thinking about where that phenomenon (i.e. consumers shopping at physical stores and then buying online) might take us.  The obvious conclusion is that eventually the physical stores will vanish since they won't make enough sales to stay open.  But what happens then?

Obviously, people will have to get used to buying things without being able to take a look at them first, which is actually fine for most sort of product but may be troubling for people shopping for things like furniture, clothing, and so forth.  But even then, simple, friendly, no-questions-asked return policies will reassure consumers enough that it shouldn't be a big hurdle for on-line merchants.

Impulse purchasing will probably decrease since the number of products that you can "suggest" on a web page is much smaller than the number of things that someone will look at during a trip to a retail store.  But there as well, technical advantages may even it out.  Unlike a retail store, an online retailer can gear the products that get suggested specifically to the individual shopper based on their login to the site and cookies planted in their browser.  So, though less products are put in the consumer's face, the one that are presented are much more likely to result in a sale.

But I think that the most interesting change may come from a change in the covenant between manufacturers and retailers.  Retailers, in essence, supply manufacturers with advertising, showroom space, and customer service for free.  In return manufacturers don't undercut retailer's prices and don't try to poach the customer from the retailer.  For a very long time that system has worked pretty well.  There have always been some manufactures who either choose to sell direct to consumers (some very successfully, like Snap-On Tools) or who maintain their own retail stores, either in parallel to non-affiliated retailers or exclusively, but in general that retail / manufacturer split has been dominant.  But what happens when retailers can't stay in business because of ecommerce?

Before I take my guesses at that, I should touch on some of the things that are influencing my answer.

One of the lessons that came out of the collapse of Borders was that it's important for merchants to have a direct relationship with their customers rather than allowing an intermediary in the middle.  It's also important that retailers pursue new sales channels themselves, rather than farming those channels out to another business.  Borders made a mistake in both those departments when it contracted with Amazon to provide ecommerce services to Borders customers.

Apple has demonstrated how successful a company can be by controlling the entire relationship with the customer.  Apple Stores are some of the most profitable retail spaces in the world, on a per-square-foot basis and have cemented the direct relationship between Apple and its customers.

Manufacturers have found themselves in "golden handcuffs" to a number of retailers, often to their regret.  Publishers took a huge financial hit when Borders started to have money problems and then were hit again when Borders closed down.  Many suppliers to Walmart have ended up having draconian terms dictated to them, often after they have made investments to increase output to keep up with Walmart's demand.  As a result, when Walmart tells them what retail price they need to achieve or set penalties when their deliveries are late by as little as 15 minutes, the manufacturer has no choice but to dance to Walmart's tune.

All those factors plus some of the basic realities of ecommerce are going to keep shaking up how we buy and sell for years to come.  We might start to see manufacturers in a common industry joining forces and running their own co-op stores.  Consider books -- there are only five or six major publishers in the US.  As bookstores close in major markets like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago perhaps those publishers will join together and open their own "super-stores".  Just by stocking all the in-print titles from the participating publishers such a store would have an inventory to rival the biggest and best bookstores in the world (and just imagine the author events they could host).  The profit margin would be great since the stock could be purchased at _manufacturer's_ wholesale.  Another fertile field for that would be power tools, another industry dominated by a small group of players (DeWalt, Porter Cable, Milwaukee, Makita, Bosch and a few others).

Or more companies might open their own stand-alone retail stores.  Apple has certainly had a huge amount of success with that model.  Sony has also done alright with that idea and other companies may follow.  Again, in this situation the profit margin should be very good since the companies set retail prices high enough that there is a profit share for both the company and the retailer.  If they cut out the retailer, the excess profit goes to them.  Some companies might even adopt the Snap-On Tools model and have roving sales people with company supplied trucks stocked with a huge range of their products.  Such trucks could set up in public areas on a rotating schedule (posted on the company web site, of course) and deal direct to the public without the headache of large staffs, high rents, and associated overhead.  Anything that wasn't in stock on the truck could be drop-shipped direct to the customer.  In fact, even more of Snap-On's model could be used -- Snap-On drivers own the truck and inventory.  They are, in essence, independent contractors working on a franchise scheme.

Finally, I think we'll see more and more companies create and maintain their own ecommerce sites.  The attraction here is three-fold -- they get to "own" their customers in terms of marketing, promotions and repeat business, they reduce their reliance on a single retailer (i.e. Amazon) for most of their sales, and they, again, benefit from increased margins.  Some premium vendors might even withdraw their products from other sales channels figuring that they're better off getting the entire profit margin in exchange for less exposure and sales.  A decision like that might even become a matter of significant prestige (as in "our products are of such high quality and desirability that we don't _need_ to sell them anywhere else).

You'll notice that all of the preceding ideas are attractive to manufacturers in part because of the increased profit generated by selling products without a retailer in the middle.  That equation might work out differently though.  Perhaps manufacturers will abandon the principle of not undercutting retail prices.  If most commerce is on the internet then the benefit of having retailers maintaining showrooms for products no longer matters.  If selling is merely a matter of setting up an ecommerce site with the associated fulfillment department and customer service, might it not be worthwhile to take that step, cut out _all_ the retailers and make greater profits?  Or, accept a lower profit (though perhaps still greater that in the past) and undercut all the retailers, even Amazon?

If I ran a successful on-line retailer, I would plan on moving very cautiously into the next ten years.  Without good customer service, good relationships with suppliers, and careful thought, the end of small independent retail might be the start of an "extinction event" that could spread to on-line retailers as well when manufacturers start cutting out all the parties between them and the consumer.

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
2) Reamde by Neal Stephenson
3) Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
4)1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
5) Ready Player One by Earnest Cline
6) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
7) Seed by Rob Ziegler
8)11/22/63 by Stephen King
9) Rule 34 by Charles Stross
10) Inheritance by Christopher Paolini tie with
      Zone One by Colson Whitehead

1) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
3) Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
4) Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
5) Feed by Mira Grant
6) Fate's Edge by Ilona Andrews
7) Equations of Life by Simon Morden
8) Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
9) Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
10) Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Trade Paperbacks
1) Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
2) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
3) Faith by John Love
4) Unpossible and Other Stories by Daryl Gregory
5) Empire State by Adam Christopher

Book Club Info

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, February 12, at 5 pm to discuss THIS IS NOT A GAME by Walter John Williams.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, January 15th, at 6 pm to discuss THE ILLUSTRATED MAN by Ray Bradbury.   Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Rudy Rucker, NESTED SCROLLS, (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, January 14th at 3:00 pm - "My greatest ambition was to be a beatnik SF writer... " In his charming autobiography NESTED SCROLLS, Rudy Rucker has created a punk mathematician's mental "On the Road".  This bittersweet memoir bounces effortlessly from the scatological to the mundane to the sublime, journeying in time, and filled with snapshots of the bizarre situations and fascinating characters of Rudy's life.  Sudden wry insights combine with seemingly irrelevant details to form an archive of all the tiny, fiercely important components that make up a lifetime. The book rambles from Rudy's Rockwell-esque childhood in Kentucky all the way through Germany, Lynchburg, VA,  Genesco, NY, and finally on to the Bay Area of California, where Rudy still resides.  Along the way we hear tidbits about the other founders of cyberpunk (Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Richard Kadrey and Pat Murphy all make cameos), set theory, zen, painting, and the creation of transrealism, to touch on just a few of Rucker's fascinations.  Rudy writes that he "planned to spend [his] years as authentically and ecstatically as possible" and create "mass market surrealism. . . .a literature that was ecstatic and countercultural, but with logic and rigor to its weirdness."  I  believe he succeeds wildly.  I cannot think of a better description for Rudy's fiction, this autobiography, or for Rucker's life itself.  Come meet Rudy and check it out for yourself!

Jo Walton, AMONG OTHERS (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99 and Trade Paperback, $14.99) Saturday, January 21st at 3:00 pm -  We're so excited to be hosting the brilliant Jo Walton!  AMONG OTHERS is a gorgeous tale that uses experiences from Ms. Walton's life as a starting point for the novel.  Walton told John Scalzi "For me, writing is always about the emotional truth, and it’s always at a little distance. There’s less distance in this book than with anything I wrote before, and more than anything else I kept asking myself if I had the right to write this, and what it was going to mean to me for other people to read it. I’m still not sure about that."  In addition to its semi-autobiographical elements, AMONG OTHERS is about the love of reading, and particularly the life-changing aspects of science fiction.  Do yourself a favor and do not miss this event.

SF in SF with authors Ryan Boudinot and Ayize Jama-Everett at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, (582 Market Street) Saturday, January 28th at 7:00 pm - We are very excited to help SF in SF welcome these authors!  Each author will read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A from the audience moderated by author Terry Bisson.  Authors will schmooze & sign books after in the lounge. Books available for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books.  Seating is limited, so first come, first seated.  Bar proceeds benefit Variety Childrens Charity - learn more at <>.  We REALLY encourage you to take BART into the City, or use MUNI to get here - parking can be problematic in San Francisco, to say the least.  We are less than one block away from the Montgomery St. station.  Trust us - you don't want to be looking for parking and be late for the event!  Phone (night of event) 415-572-1015.  Questions? Email

Stephen Blackmoore, CITY OF THE LOST (DAW, Trade Paperback, $15.00) with special guest Mira Grant, Saturday, February 4th at 3:00 pm - Come join us for a Zombietastic reading as we welcome Stephen Blackmoore and special guest Mira Grant to Borderlands Books!  Kirkus Reviews called Blackmoore's debut novel CITY OF THE LOST a "head-shakingly perfect blend of zombie schlock, deadpan wit, startling profanity, desperate improvisation and inventive brilliance".  Joe Sunday was your everyday thug and leg-breaker for hire, but that was before he was sent on a shakedown that ended with him dead and brought back as a zombie.  Being a zombie doesn't suck, except for the need to chow down on living flesh every twenty-four hours to maintain his lifestyle.  Enter an ancient stone with the ability to grant actual immortality and everyone in L.A. wants it, "from a Nazi wizard and a razor-toothed midget, to a nympho-demon bartender, a too-powerful witch [out] to help homeless vampires, and the one woman who might have all the answers..."  Come get a taste of  "a remarkable debut, L.A. noir with eye-bulging refinements" (Kirkus Reviews) . Mira Grant will also be reading zombie fiction and signing books!

Katharine Kerr, APOCALYPSE TO GO (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, February 11th at 3:00 pm - APOCALYPSE TO GO is the third in the Nola O'Grady urban fantasy series by Katherine Kerr.  From the publisher, "Nola O'Grady has enough trouble when a were-leopard accuses her of receiving stolen property. But when her younger brother Michael goes searching for their missing father, he lands himself and his brother, Sean, in a world of hurt --quite literally --in a deviant world version of San Francisco. Can Nola and her partner in the Apocalypse Squad, Israeli Interpol agent Ari Nathan, find her brothers in time to save them from death by radiation poisoning?  The search will lead them through a city of secrets, but the worst secret of all lurks at the heart of the only thing Nola loves more than Ari: her family."  Don't miss this explosive entry in the newest series by one of fantasy's most established and respected authors!

SF in SF with authors KW Jeter and Jay Lake at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, (582 Market Street) Saturday, February 11th at 7:00 pm - More info to come!

Borderlands event policy - all events are free of charge.  You are welcome to bring copies of an author's books purchased elsewhere to be autographed (but we do appreciate it if you purchase something while at the event).  For most events you are welcome to bring as many books as you wish for autographs.  If you are unable to attend the event we will be happy to have a copy of any of the author's available books signed or inscribed for you.  We can then either hold the book(s) until you can come in to pick them up or we can ship to you.  Just give us a call or drop us an email.  If you live out of town, you can also ship us books from your collection to be signed for a nominal fee.  Call or email for details.

Dispatches from the Border
Editor - Jude Feldman
Assistant Editor - Alan Beatts
Contributor - Naamen Tilahun

All contents unless otherwise noted are the property of

Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA  94110

Comments and suggestions should be directed to


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