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Events and News from Borderlands Books

February, 2013

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Upcoming Author Events

Cory Doctorow, HOMELAND (Tor, Hardcover, $17.99) Friday, February 8th at 7:00 pm

Brandon Sanderson, MEMORY OF LIGHT (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99) Saturday, February 9th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, with special guests Sophie Littlefield and Matt Richtel, Saturday, February 9th at 7:00 pm

Marie Brennan. A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS: A MEMOIR BY LADY TRENT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, February 10th at 3:00 pm

Peter Brett, THE DAYLIGHT WAR (Del Rey, Hardcover, $28.00) Sunday, February 17th at 3:00 pm

Editor John Joseph Adams with special guest Seanan McGuire, THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99 and Trade Paperback, $14.99) Saturday, February 23rd at 3:00 pm

Dan Wells, FRAGMENTS (Balzer & Bray, Hardcover, $17.99) Sunday, March 10th at 3:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)

We're also delighted to announce that we'll be hosting John Scalzi in May!  Stay tuned for more awesome upcoming events.


* Overheard in the store: "Mixing random liquids together does NOT count as Science."
"If the end result is tasty, then yes, it does!"

* Sometimes I really love the Internet. The White House has officially rejected a petition to build the Death Star:  and then the Empire responded:

* Call for local writers! Can you write a short science fiction, fantasy, or horror play? San Francisco Theater Pub wants you!  Details here:

* Jim Hines, Mary Robinette Kowal, John Scalzi, Charles Stross & Patrick Rothfuss do something awesome for charity (& to show how sexist book covers can be):

* Marvelous video on why the Moon landing couldn't have been faked:

* Artist Dan Bransfield sketched this patron at Borderlands Cafe:

* Happy 5th Anniversary, ! Also, Annalee Newitz explains what an io9 IS:

* Don't miss Naked Dudes Reading Lovecraft at Stage Werks Theatre 2/13 @ 8 pm! Cost is $20.  (I'm thinking this one is 18+.)

* Pssssst! Hey, you there. . .wanna buy a castle?

From The Office

Little, Fast Mammals
by Alan Beatts

Last month I shared some pretty grim figures about the rate that print book sales are decreasing.  I also pointed out that, if sales continue to drop at that rate, by 2015 print sales will have dropped by 44% overall since 2009.  Sales shrinking to that degree will make it very hard for bookstores to stay open. However I also suggested that it could be an opportunity for smaller bookstores as well as specialty and used bookshops.

This month I'm going to go into detail about how those sorts of stores can continue to survive, and even grow, despite the contraction of the printed book business.

First assumption -- People who shop at bookstores now do so because they want to, not because they have to.  Amazon has been around for 15 years, they do an outstanding job of selling books, and everyone has heard of them.  Likewise, ebook readers are dirt cheap, reliable and ubiquitous.  There are a plentitude of reasons people want to shop at bookstores but one of them is not lack of choice.  That means the people who are shopping now are likely to continue shopping, unless new factors enter into their decision making.  Such factors could be price increases as the market for print books declines, eroding some of the economies of scale that currently exist, or store closures that require customers to travel further to reach a bookstore.  That aside, people who buy books now at stores will probably want to continue to do so.

Second assumption -- People who buy books buy all sorts of books.  As you would expect, many of the books I buy are in my specialty.  But I also collect books on the history of cities and books about woodworking and building trades.  I read quite a bit of non-fiction (pirates have been a favorite for several years now) and a fair number of mysteries.  Plus, I give books as gifts.  Further, most of the people I know also buy books all across the spectrum.

Third assumption -- The distance a customer will travel to bookstores is affected by the number of other stores in the area and the uniqueness of the store. Why drive for 15 minutes to get to a store when there's another store only five minutes down the road?  You might do that if the farther store had a better selection of the books you wanted (let's say it was a science fiction and fantasy specialty store) but otherwise, you would go to the closer store.

Final Assumption -- The total number of print books produced by traditional publishers will drop over time as more and more titles with limited sales possibilities are released either as ebook only or are ebook / print on demand.  Since print on demand is usually associated with small or nonexistent discounts for booksellers it is not practical to stock them in most bookstores.  The end result is that the number of titles for bookstores to stock per year will decrease.

None of the foregoing will help the large, independent general interest bookstores much.  When Barnes and Noble folds (which is, I think, bound to happen in the not-too-distant future -- a small business can soldier on for quite a long time while sales drop, but a publicly traded company cannot), the big stores that are left will pick up a nice bump in business.  But, I think that will peak about one year after B&N closes most of its stores.  After that the sales at the big stores will decrease steadily as the sales of print books decrease.  The problem that those large stores face is that they are already capturing most of the sales they can within their trade area (i.e. the rough circle around a business that describes the average distance a customer will travel to shop at that business).  The sales will jump up if a B&N nearby closes but after that, it's all down hill.

But smaller stores are not in the same position.  A small, general interest store is limited in how many customers they can capture in their trade area because of restricted space for inventory.  However, as the total number of books published decreases, the small store can expand the inventory relative to the books that are in print.  Which means they can attract more of the book buying customers in their area.  A small store could even expand in size, and thereby increase sales.

It's a risky proposition to expand your business while your field as a whole is shrinking, but it's possible.  But it is much safer and easier, however, if you don't need to expand your space as much as you need to expand your offerings.

As a mature business, Borderlands is probably selling just about as many books as it can.  Unless the popularity of our genres suddenly increases or the demographics of our region change drastically, the customers we have are most of the possible customers for us.  After fifteen years, if someone in the bay area is really interested in SF, fantasy or horror, and is willing to travel to our place, they've probably found us by now.  Certainly, people do come in and say, "I never knew you were here" but it doesn't happen often.  And, the new customers we get each year probably balance out with the customers we lose because they move, slow down their reading (kids, school and jobs can all do that . . . I've been told), or, sadly, die.

But, we can potentially gain huge numbers of customers if we expand our offerings.  Right now I might have all the SF, fantasy and horror customers I can have . . . but I don't have _any_ customers who only like mysteries, for example, because we don't sell 'em.  But we've got room to carry them.  And, as of two years ago, we have no competition from a store with that specialty in San Francisco.  And, if we did carry them, our business could take a big jump upwards.  The same thing applies to any other sections that I might add.  Almost anything would both add new customers _and_ increase my sales to the customers I have.  That, combined with a shrinking volume of titles each year, might mean that, in ten years or so, I'll be running a general interest bookstore with a special focus on SF / F / H.

Used bookstores are in the same sort of position.  As places to buy new print books start to vanish, a used book shop could increase sales just by doing something as simple as putting a display of New York Times Bestsellers in their window.  Not to mention staking out a specialty of their own and serving those customers with both used and new books.

When all is said and done, we may be facing an "extinction level" event for traditional bookselling but, like what happened after the dinosaurs and, later, the prehistoric megafauna vanished, the little, quick critters may be the ones that last the longest.  Or perhaps the little bookstores might even be the basis for a new generation of bookselling.  But I'm not betting on that.

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1) A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
2) Impulse by Steven Gould
3) Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
4) Tenth of December by George Saunders
5) Tiger by the Tail by John Ringo and Ryan Sear
6) Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots by Seanan McGuire
7) Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks
8) Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
9) Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
10) Blood and Bone by Ian Cameron Esslemont

1) Moonshifted by Cassie Alexander
2) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
3) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
4) Snuff by Terry Pratchett
5) Throne of Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
6) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
7) Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
8) Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
9) Feed by Mira Grant
10) Soulless by Gail Carriger

Trade Paperbacks
1) Nexus by Ramez Naam
2) Turing and Burroughs by Rudy Rucker
3) Redshirts by John Scalzi
4) World War Z by Max Brooks
5) The Departure by Neal Asher

Book Club Info

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, February 10th, at 5 pm to discuss SOULLESS by Gail Carriger.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, February 17th, at 6 pm to discuss THE STRESS OF HER REGARD by Tim Powers.  The book for March 17th is THE LITTLE BOOK by Sheldon Edwards.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Cory Doctorow, HOMELAND (Tor, Hardcover, $17.99) Friday, February 8th at 7:00 pm - We're always thrilled to welcome Cory Doctorow to Borderlands!  This time we've partnered with the awesome folks at Noisebridge hackspace to bring you an event for the long-awaited sequel to LITTLE BROTHER. Don't miss this opportunity to meet Cory - bring your questions on the future of internet privacy and the future in general!  Also, you might want to check out this blog post of Cory's where he talks about how Aaron Swartz influenced the plot of HOMELAND and the character of M1k3y .

Brandon Sanderson, MEMORY OF LIGHT (Tor, Hardcover, $34.99) Saturday, February 9th at 3:00 pm -We are delighted to welcome Brandon Sanderson back to Borderlands!  We've been fans of Brandon's since the very beginning, and we couldn't be happier about all of the acclaim and attention he's currently getting. Join us to meet Brandon, hear about the creation of the final Wheel of Time novel, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, and get your books signed!  As usual, there are no tickets or purchase required for this event.  We expect it will be very crowded, and seating is limited, so arrive early.  Brandon has always been great about signing everyone's books, but please be advised that it may take a while to get your books signed; we'll try to be entertaining in the interim.
Meanwhile, we think you'll appreciate this short, touching video explaining how Brandon was chosen to finish the series: .  We're also delighted to announce that we've just been informed that editor Harriet McDougal will be joining Brandon at this appearance! Enjoy the video, and we'll see you February 9th!

SF in SF at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street, with special guests Sophie Littlefield and Matt Richtel, Saturday, February 9th at 7:00 pm - SF in SF welcomes these great 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 will be available for sale.  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 (night of event) 415-572-1015.  Questions? Email

Marie Brennan. A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS: A MEMOIR BY LADY TRENT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, February 10th at 3:00 pm -We're very excited to present Marie Brennen's newest book, an absolutely charming memoir of the world's preeminent dragon naturalist! "All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.  Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever."  Please join us to meet Marie and the unforgettable Lady Trent.

Peter Brett, THE DAYLIGHT WAR (Del Rey, Hardcover, $28.00) Sunday, February 17th at 3:00 pm - Peter Brett grabbed the world's attention with his fantastic debut THE WARDED MAN.  Now join us to meet Peter and check out THE DAYLIGHT WAR, the third volume in the best-selling Demon Cycle, about humanity's last stand against the demons that rise each night to prey on them.  

Editor John Joseph Adams with special guest Seanan McGuire, THE MAD SCIENTIST'S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99 and Trade Paperback, $14.99) Saturday, February 23rd at 3:00 pm - From the book description: "From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses -- from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.  An all-star roster of bestselling authors -- including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told -- have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable."  Join us to meet John Joseph Adams, the evil genius behind the anthology, and contributor Seanan McGuire!  We promise the contemplation of lots of nefarious deeds, and cackling!

Dan Wells, FRAGMENTS (Balzer & Bray, Hardcover, $17.99) Sunday, March 10th at 3:00 pm - We're always happy to welcome Dan Wells, author of the book I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER and its sequels. This time's Dan's showing off the sequel to PARTIALS.  From the book jacket: "Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence - it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that involves Kira, a plan that could save both races. Her companions are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what's left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns.  But Kira's journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and Kira and Marcus both will discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn't even know existed."

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

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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