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Events and News from Borderlands Books

March, 2012

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Upcoming Author Events

We're pleased to announce that we've moved all of our author events to Borderlands Cafe, right next door at 870 Valencia Street! Now you can enjoy a snack or beverage while you listen to your favorite author.

Melanie Rawn, TOUCHSTONE (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) - Saturday, March 10th at 3:00 pm

David Constantine, THE PILLARS OF HERCULES (Night Shade Books, Trade Paperback, $14.99) - Sunday, March 11th at 3:00 pm

Caitlin Kittredge, THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN (Delacorte, Hardcover, $17.99), with special guest Ben Macallan - Saturday, March 17th at 3:00 pm

Seanan McGuire, DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) - Saturday, March 17th at 6:00 pm

SF in SF (at the Variety Preview Room, 582 Market Street) with authors Claude Lalumiere and Richard A. Lupoff - Saturday, March 17th at 7:00 pm

Robert Balmanno, SEPTEMBER SNOW (Regent Press, Trade Paperback, $15.95) - Saturday, March 24th from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Scott Sigler, NOCTURNAL (Crown, Hardcover, $26.00) - Monday, April 2nd at 7:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)

Coming up in the Spring: events with Christopher Farnsworth, Walter Mosley, and Jack Campbell, among many others!


* Ebook agency sales model under fire from the Department of Justice.  The DoJ is planning on suing Apple and five of the big six US publishers for anti-trust statute violations stemming from their adoption of the "agency model" for ebook sales.  The results of this dispute are liable to shape bookselling for publishers, authors, readers and booksellers for a long time to come.  Details here and here .

* Don't miss the Borderlands Spring Rummage Sale coming up May 12th!  When you keep a store in one space for more than ten years, all sorts of interesting stuff tends to accumulate, so come and look for bargains on cool and bizarre things that ended up in the basement.  More details to follow in next month's newsletter.

* Thanks to Locus Magazine for the following: author Frank Robinson is auctioning off his entire mind-blowing collection of pulp magazines, "including complete files of all science fiction magazines from 1926 through 1990. Condition on the items is “near mint” to “mint,” and titles include such gems as Amazing Stories, Miracle Science and Fantasy, SCOOPS (the first British science fiction magazine, from 1932) and more. Included are the first Arkham editions of Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. For more information, contact"

* Del Rey Spectra and Suvudu are calling for fan art to enhance their science fiction and fantasy characters' cage match!  (This time there are 64 characters involved.)  I don't even know how to begin explaining this to you, so I'm just going to link to it:

* J.K. Rowling's next book will be an adult book, and a radical departure from Harry Potter:

* Congratulations to the 2011 Nebula Nominees!  The complete list is here:

* Two "A Game of Thrones" Season Two trailers! (1) , (2)

* Deeply disturbing: THE SHINING mashed up with "Toy Story" for "Toy Shining":

From the Office

Why Best Sellers Matter
by Alan Beatts

The New York Times Best Seller list has been produced every week since 1942.  Even with massive influence on book buying habits by Amazon, a Stanford Business School analysis strongly suggests that most book buyers look to the Times list for book purchase suggestions.  Although the effect of getting a book on that list is not huge for well-established authors, it can make the career of a new or previously mid-list author.  Making the list leads directly to larger advance payments, bigger print runs, and greater publicity expenditures for later books, not to mention much higher sales numbers for the current book and the consequent greater royalty payments.

Short of prestigious awards like the Pulitzer or Nobel Prize, there is probably nothing that can have a greater instant effect on an author's future and income.

The exact details of how placement calculation is performed for the Times list is a trade secret, kept by the News Surveys department of that paper.  Even the staff of the Book Reviews section, which publishes the list, doesn't know how it is calculated.  In general however, each week sales figures are collected from a selection of independent and chain bookstores (of which Borderlands is one), along with other sales outlets such as drug stores, supermarkets and gift shops.  Wholesalers are also included but the figures are weighted so that the final figure is based more on books sold to actual readers, rather than the number of books shipped to stores (which might languish on the shelves for a month or more before being returned).   A result is the Times list's reputation as one of the best, if not the best, measures of a book's immediate popularity.

Please note the words "immediate popularity".  Many, many books sell a huge number of copies over the course of their time in print and yet never end up on the Best Seller list because the sales are spread out over months or years.  As the name suggests, the list measures what sold best _in a specific week_.  Like many scales, it's useful as long as you understand what it is meant to measure.  It helps to look at the Times List this way -- any book on the list has sold a lot of copies -- but not all books that sell a lot of copies end up on the list.  It all depends on how many copies of the book sell in a short period of time, usually during the all-important first week that the book is on sale.

Which is a major portion of why the concept of a "strict lay-down date" exists.  Most book buyers have never heard of lay-down dates, but some of you probably remember hearing about how the later Harry Potter books were shipped to bookstores with an explicit, legally binding agreement that the seals on the boxes wouldn't be broken until 12:01 AM on the day that is was supposed to go on sale.  That was an extreme example of a lay-down date.  In the case of Harry Potter, the restriction on sales before the date was more of a marketing gimmick than an actual attempt to ensure that all the sales would take place during the first week of reporting to the Times.  After all, by the middle book, there was no doubt that it would hit the bestseller lists.  But it was an extension of the basic goal of publishers for mid-list and potential best-selling titles -- get as many sales as possible in the first week so that the book has the best chance of getting on the list.

All of this might seem like silly marketing games and, for the publishers, perhaps it is (though remember -- most book buyers at least look at the Times list every week or are made aware of the results through other channels).  But for an author?  It's no game because of how seriously the publishers themselves take that list.

For years at Borderlands we've taken on-sale or lay-down dates pretty casually.  Books come in.  We inventory them and put 'em on the shelves.  If they're out a little early, who cares?  Unless, of course, the publisher went to extraordinary lengths to enforce the date.  In which case we'd play along.

In part I felt that our attitude was justified in a large part because of the habits of big retailers, chain bookstores and Amazon.  The chains made it a habit to do the same thing we do -- as soon as books arrive, they go on the shelves.  Unless the publisher, blah, blah, blah.  Likewise Walmart and the other non-book retailers.  And, many of those companies would get their books shipped directly from the printer, rather than going through the intermediary step of the publisher's warehouse, because their orders were so large.  Which meant they had the book in stock as much as a week before we did.

And Amazon would often list a book as being for sale (as opposed to available for pre-order) a month before it even had shipped from the printer.  Customers would order the book, get told that it was "back-ordered" (despite it not having ever arrived in Amazon's warehouse), and patiently wait for it to ship.

In light of all that, it seemed only reasonable to me that I play the game the same way.  As far as I saw it, no one was getting hurt.  However, based on what I've told you about how the New York Times Best Seller list works, you can see how offering books for sale early has an effect on the chance of it being accurately represented on that list.

But recently something happened to an author who is both a friend of mind and a strong supporter of the store that changed my mind.

Their book, which stood a chance of getting on the Times list, was offered for sale at Amazon more than two weeks before the lay-down date.  The author noticed this and got in touch with both their publisher and Amazon requesting that it be removed until the right date.  Neither the author nor their publisher had any success in having the book removed until, finally and through back channels that I can't detail, the book was taken off sale.  It wasn't set to be pre-ordered (which is what the status should properly have been), but at least people could no longer buy it. 

But, before that happened, a virtual flood of emails arrived in the author's in-box from a legion of very, very angry readers who preferred ebooks.  It seems that they had noticed that the print version of the book was on sale, whereas the ebook was not going to be available until the (correct) on-sale date.  The conclusion that these people had come to was that the author was deliberately delaying the ebook to force people to buy the physical copy.  In addition to the laughable assumption that an author has _any_ control over when and where their books are available, these ebook fans had completely missed the point.  But that didn't stop them from writing some really nasty things, including but not limited to a comprehensive survey of obscene pronouns and a range of physical threats.

But the whole thing wasn't done yet.  At almost exactly 5 pm, East Coast time on the following Friday, the book was put back up for sale at Amazon.  I suppose that it's possible that the timing was an accident but it seems strange to me that the status change happened right at the beginning of the weekend when no-one would be in the office at the publisher to do anything about it for over 48 hours.

Once again the author tried to get something done without success.  Even the back-channel route that had worked previously wasn't fruitful.  Then, on the following Monday afternoon, the publisher's calls had an effect and the book was pulled again.

It will be hard to tell how this all plays out until the Times Best Seller list comes out the week after the book's proper on-sale date.  But all those orders in advance of the on-sale date are certain to have an effect, if not on whether the book makes the list, then at least on the position that it gets.

After seeing all of this happen, I realized that putting a book on sale early can have an effect.  So we're not going to do it here any longer.  Granted, it may cost us some sales, but we see ourselves as being part of a larger community of readers, writers and publishers.  It behooves us to play by the rules and not take action that hurts the other members of the community.

Wouldn't it be nice if some of the largest and most influential members of the bookselling community thought the same way?

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
2. Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson
3. Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont
4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
5. Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
6. Nested Scrolls by Rudy Rucker
7. The Mirage by Matt Ruff
8. Reamde by Neal Stephenson
9. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
2. Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
3. Apocalypse to Go by Katharine Kerr
4. After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
5. Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
6. Soulless by Gail Carriger
7. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
8. Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
9. Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
10. The Great Game by Lavie Tidhar

Trade Paperbacks
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Embassytown by China Mieville
3. Orb Sceptre Throne by Ian Cameron Esslemont
4. City of the Lost by Stephen Blackmoore
5.  Surfing the Gnarl Plus . . . by Rudy Rucker

Book Club Info

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, March 11th, at 5 pm to discuss THE YEAR'S BEST SCIENCE FICTION 28th ANNUAL COLLECTION  edited by Gardner Dozios, from "Under the Moons of Venus" by Damien Broderick to "Dead Man's Voyage" by Robert Reed.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, March 18th, at 6 pm to discuss THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH by Philip K. Dick.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Note: We have moved all of our author events to Borderlands Cafe, directly next door to the bookstore at 870 Valencia Street.  We now have more room, and you can enjoy your hot cocoa while listening to your favorite author!

Melanie Rawn, TOUCHSTONE (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) - Saturday, March 10th at 3:00 pm - Please join us in welcoming the prolific and talented Melanie Rawn back to Borderlands!  From the book jacket: "Cayden Silversun is part Elven, part Fae, part human Wizard -- and all rebel. His aristocratic mother would have him follow his father to the Royal Court, to make a high society living off the scraps of kings. But Cade lives and breathes for the theater, and he’s good -- very, very good. With his company, he’ll enter the highest reaches of society and power, as an honored artist -- or die trying. Cade combines the talents of Merlin, Shakespeare, and John Lennon: a wholly charming character in a remarkably original fantasy world created by a mistress of the art.  Although TOUCHSTONE can stand alone, it is the first book of a brilliant, utterly engaging new fantasy series from the author of the bestselling Dragon Prince series."

David Constantine, THE PILLARS OF HERCULES (Night Shade Books, Trade Paperback, $14.99) - Sunday, March 11th at 3:00 pm - We're pleased to welcome author David Constantine, presenting his novel THE PILLARS OF HERCULES!  "Alexander the Great, warlord of Macedon, is the terror of the world. Persia, Egypt, Athens . . . one after another, mighty nations are falling before the fearsome conqueror. Some say Alexander is actually the son of Zeus, king of the gods, and the living incarnation of Hercules himself. Worse yet, some say Alexander believes this . . . . The ambitious prince is aided in his conquest by unstoppable war-machines based on the forbidden knowledge of his former tutor, the legendary scientist-mage known as Aristotle. Greek fire, mechanical golems, and gigantic siege-engines lay waste to Alexander's enemies as his armies march relentlessly west -- toward the very edge of the world. Beyond the Pillars of Hercules, past the gateway to the outer ocean, lies the rumored remnants of Atlantis: ancient artifacts of such tremendous power that they may be all that stands between Alexander and conquest of the entire world. Alexander desires that power for himself, but an unlikely band of fugitives -- including a Gaulish barbarian, a cynical Greek archer, a cunning Persian princess, and a sorcerer's daughter -- must find it first . . . before Alexander unleashes godlike forces that will shatter civilization. THE PILLARS OF HERCULES is an epic adventure that captures the grandeur and mystery of the ancient world as it might have been, where science and magic are one and the same."

Caitlin Kittredge, THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN (Delacorte, Hardcover, $17.99), with special guest Ben Macallan - Saturday, March 17th at 3:00 pm - We're delighted to host urban fantasy sensation Caitlin Kittredge at Borderlands once again!  This time she's presenting THE NIGHTMARE GARDEN, the second Iron Codex book. Caitlin's special guest will be Ben Macallan, (aka Chaz Brenchley, aka Daniel Fox) whose novel DESDAEMONA will soon be followed by PANDAEMONIUM.

Seanan McGuire, DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON (DAW, Mass Market, $7.99) - Saturday, March 17th at 6:00 pm - We're thrilled (and a little wary) to welcome Seanan McGuire and the whole crazy musical circus back to Borderlands!  Seanan's latest book is DISCOUNT ARMAGGEDON, the start of a brand-new urban fantasy series telling the extremely complex, kinda violent, and incidentally very funny story of the Price family.  DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON focuses on Verity Price, (early 20's, cryptozoologist, waitress at a strip joint, and competitive ballroom dancer) on her own in New York for the first time.  Well, except for the hyper-religious mice, her cousin the cuckoo, various beasties, that really attractive guy from the genocidal religious cult, and maybe even a dragon.  All in a day's work.  We hope you'll join us for the fun, the songs, the raffle prizes and the madness!

SF in SF (at the Variety Preview Room, 582 Market Street) with authors Claude Lalumiere and Richard A. Lupoff - Saturday, March 17th at 7:00 pm - We are so happy 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

Robert Balmanno, SEPTEMBER SNOW (Regent Press, Trade Paperback, $15.95) - Saturday, March 24th from 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm - Meet vivacious local author Robert Balmanno, who will chat informally about his Blessings of Gaia series, a dystopian story where mankind and the physical life of the planet are on a collision course.

Scott Sigler, NOCTURNAL (Crown, Hardcover, $26.00) - Monday, April 2nd at 7:00 pm - Don't miss this opportunity to meet podcast sensation and local author Scott Sigler!  Scott's new novel is NOCTURNAL, and his homicide detective protagonist Bryan Clauser is losing his mind.  How else to explain the eerily prescient dreams he keeps having about the gruesome serial murders that are taking place? From the book description: "As Bryan and his longtime partner, Lawrence 'Pookie' Chang, investigate the murders, they learn that things are even stranger than they at first seem. For the victims are all enemies of a seemingly ordinary young boy --a boy who is gripped by the same dreams that haunt Bryan.  Meanwhile, a shadowy vigilante, seemingly armed with superhuman powers, is out there killing the killers.  And Bryan and Pookie’s superiors -- from the mayor on down -- seem strangely eager to keep the detectives from discovering the truth."  We know you'll enjoy this evening spent with Scott's twisted imagination!

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
Guest Contributor - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

All contents unless otherwise noted are the property of

Borderlands Books
866 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA  94110

Note - Guest article, "Creating Timelines" by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro copyright Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, 2012.

Comments and suggestions should be directed to



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