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Events and News from Borderlands Books

APRIL, 2004

MARCH, 2004


Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Stephen Jones and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRES (NEW EDITION), Tuesday, April 6th at 7 PM

Borderlands Party at the World Horror Convention, Friday, April 9th at 9 PM

Rudy Rucker, FREK AND THE ELIXIR, Saturday, April 17th at 2 PM

Seth Lindberg, DENYING DEATH, Saturday, April 17th at 6 PM

ROBOTS ARE US! - A Benefit for the Fountain Award for Speculative Literature, Friday, April 23 at 7:30 PM.

Howard V. Hendrix, THE LABYRINTH KEY, Saturday, May 1st at 2 PM

MORBID CURIOSITY, Saturday, May 15th from 3-6 PM

Patrick Califia, MORTAL COMPANION, Sunday, May 16th at 2 PM

(for more information check the end of this section)


We're thrilled to present the first of a limited edition series of Borderlands bookmarks.  The first in this series (only 2000 printed) was illustrated and designed by John Picacio, with typographic design by Chad Savage.  They are free, and going fast, so be sure to pick one of these beautiful bookmarks on your next visit.

The World Horror Convention 2004 is being held in Phoenix, Arizona from April 8-11.  Guests include Douglas Clegg (Author GoH), Stephen Jones (Editor GoH) Caniglia (Artist GoH), Dee Snider (Media GoH), David Morrell (Toastmaster), Mort Castle (Writer's Workshop), Nancy Kilpatrick (Editor's Workshop), and Adam Niswander (Special GoH).  Borderlands will have a booth in the Dealers' Room, and will be hosting a party during the convention.  Stop by & say 'Hi' if you're attending!

From the Office - Musing on the Future of Retail

For years the news has been full of material about the way that the internet will change (and has changed) shopping habits.  Within the bookselling industry, is the second most often mentioned cause for independent store closures (the most cited cause are the national chains, most notably Borders and Barnes and Noble).  In the wake of Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop's announcement that they are closing their doors (1), I've been musing on the probable future of retail quite a bit.  This musing is partly in self-defense but is also motivated by a curiosity about what the world of retail may be like in ten or twenty years.

As I'm sure most of our readers know, the overall prognosis for independent retail businesses is poor.  The combination of chain stores (i.e. Borders Books, Walmart, and Home Depot), bulk retailers (i.e. Costco and Sam's Club), and internet sales (i.e. Amazon) have been taking larger and larger pieces of retail sales, resulting in rashes of store closures.  Consider that in 1950, chain stores captured 30% of retail sales nationwide.  In 2000, chain stores accounted for 60% of sales.  One sector particularly hard hit is hardware and lumber, where chain stores have gone from having 26.5% of sales in 1990 to 42% in 1997.  In a similar 7 year period (1991 to 1998) the sales income for indi bookstores dropped from 32.5% of retail sales to 17%. (2)  Conventional wisdom suggests that this trend will continue until the only independently owned retail business left will be in specialty fields so small that they are unprofitable for chains.

However, there is another trend taking place which, if it continues, may save independent retail.  The beginnings of this can be seen in the recent troubles that Blockbuster Video and its parent company, Viacom, have been having.  The short version of the story is that Viacom is unhappy with Blockbuster's slowing sales (only an 8% increase in revenue for quarters 1-3 of 2003) despite Blockbuster providing 22.5% of Viacom's revenue (for the same period) (3).

And what's being blamed for slowing the sales growth?  Netflix, an internet based rental service, and WalMart (4).  Leaving WalMart out of the picture for now, consider Netflix's business model.  There are no rental fees nor are there late fees.  However, there is a monthly membership fee of around $20.  For that fee you can use any number of DVDs.  But, the catch is that you can only have three DVDs at any time.  When you return one, Netflix sends you another.  DVDs are mailed out to the customer and include a postage paid return envelope.  It's a great system and I'm a member myself.  But, it lacks the convenience of just running down to the local video store, browsing and then grabbing the movie you want.

In short, Netflix isn't going to replace my local video store (Lost Weekend Video on Valencia St., if you're keeping track).  If one evening I decide that I want to go see The Wind and The Lion, I'm going to have to head down the street to get it.  So, will Netflix put them out of business?  If Blockbuster hasn't done it already then it's likely that Lost Weekend's business model and expenses are such that they are relatively stable.  Netflix might hurt them at first but probably won't kill them.

But, will it kill Blockbuster?  It might.

And, if Netflix does kill Blockbuster,what happens to Lost Weekend's business?  I'm betting it will improve.  Granted, Netflix is cheaper and has a bigger selection but you have to plan in advance and there's no personal interaction.  Essentially what is happening is a shift in the retail equation where two very similar businesses competed head to head (Lost Weekend vs. Blockbuster) to a situation where the businesses competing are actually quite different.  Lost Weekend gives you convenience, spontaneity, and a social outlet and Netflix provides low price and a different kind of convenience.  My bet is that there is room for both types of business.  But is there room for Blockbuster and their demanding sales goals?  I don't think so.

Though it is arguably a big step, this model can be extended to retail in general.  In the past, one of the main ways that national chains have competed with independent businesses is in the area of price and selection.  Because of greater buying power and other economies of scale (centralized ordering and administration, for example) national chains have been able to offer a greater selection of merchandise and lower prices than independent retailers.  But, due to their size, national chains tend to be less efficient and less responsive to changes in the market.  Finally, national chains tend to have much higher employee turnover and pay entry-level employees less than independent operations.  As a result, customer service suffers and national chain staff are often less knowledgeable. 

Finally, due to most chains being publicly traded corporations, there is a significant pressure on them to show significant sales increases every year and even every quarter.  Failure to do so can result in dropping stock prices and serious financial troubles.  This pressure does not exist for independent stores.  If I am making a comfortable living, the only sales growth I need is enough to keep up with inflation.  I might like more growth but I can plug along indefinitely with what I have.  Thus far the preceding considerations have balanced in favor of national chains, hence the steady attrition in independent retail.

But increasingly now, internet retail is supplanting chain stores in the very areas where they have the advantage.  Consider, an internet business has all the potential advantages of a national chain, plus it doesn't have the massive expense of maintaining large storefront locations and a huge pool of employees.  Granted, internet retail offers even less customer service than chain stores and there is the pesky shipping delay.  But both of those problems can be alleviated.  Telephone customer service for internet retail has been, in my experience, far better than I have come to expect from chain stores.  And, though delivery time for internet orders is an inconvenience, it must be balanced against the convenience of being able to shop anytime you want, day or night, and having one's purchase arrive at one's doorstep without dealing with driving to, parking at and searching around a huge store.

It would be ridiculous to suggest that internet sales will take all the business away from chain stores.  But, remember why Blockbuster is in trouble -- it's not that they aren't making money, it's that they aren't making _enough_ money and more importantly, their sales growth isn't high enough.  As internet sales increase those sales will come at the cost of physical retail sales.  Independent stores are very familiar with ways of dealing with shrinking sales.  But national chains are not and that may mean serious problems for them as internet sales grow.  As internet businesses start showing the sales growth that investors want to see and chain sales slow, the money will move towards internet business.  Chains may pay attention to this trend and move more and more vigorously onto the net but even this tactic clears the field for independent stores.

It's possible that some chains that deal in bulky and heavy items (lumber and other building materials, for example) may be able to retain their physical stores in the face of internet encroachment but even the high shipping costs for internet orders of these goods may be offset in lower warehousing costs and centralized shipping and logistics.

In summation, the growth of internet retail has changed the equation in a profound way.  No longer are chain stores the lower price, bigger selection alternative to independents.  Now they are the compromise between independents and the internet.  They can't beat the prices, selection and convenience of buying on the net and they can't give the social outlet, customer service and depth of knowledge of a well run independent.  As my dad used to say, "It's like all-purpose flour -- some good for everything and no good for anything".

So what happens over the next ten years?  My guess is that the chain stores start to dry up, initially in areas that are marginal markets and then generally.  They probably won't vanish but they'll fade.  And as they do, the customers who either _want_ to get out of the house and shop or must have what-ever-it-is RIGHT NOW or just need some solid customer service will go to their only alternative -- the independent stores who have weathered the current storm.

(1) Full information at

(2) The Fight for Survival by Independent Retailers (USA Today (Magazine), July, 2000) by James R. Lowry ( )

(3) A Blockbuster spinoff for Viacom? (New York Times, February 2, 2004) by Geraldine Fabrikant and Andrew Ross Sorkin ( )

(4) Video for Sale: Viacom rumored eager to spin off Blockbuster (VisualStore on-line, February 2, 2004) by staff. ( )

Book Club Info

The Gay Men's Book Club will meet on Sunday, April 11th at 5 PM to discuss THE BONES OF TIME by Kathleen Ann Goonan.  The book for May has not been announced yet.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Classic Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, April 18th at 6 PM to discuss DUNE by Frank Herbert.  The book for May is USE OF WEAPONS by Iain M. Banks.  Please contact Jude at for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Tuesday, April 6th at 7 PM, Editor Stephen Jones and author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, signing and Q&A for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRES (NEW EDITION):
Come meet editor Stephen Jones in his first San Francisco event.  He has previously edited GREAT GHOST STORIES, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE STORIES BY WOMEN, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF DRACULA, and THE ILLUSTRATED VAMPIRE MOVIE GUIDE in addition to many, many other anthologies.  He will be joined by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of APPREHENSIONS AND OTHER DELUSIONS, the CHRONICLES OF ST. GERMAIN series, and numerous works across the genres.

Friday, April 9th at 9 PM, Borderlands Party at the World Horror Convention:

Borderlands will be hosting our traditional Friday night party at the World Horror Convention, so join us in Suite 3051 if you're coming out to Phoenix!  As is also traditional, the drinks will be flowing and the party going 'til the last guest leaves.

Saturday, April 17th at 2 PM, Rudy Rucker reading and signing FREK AND THE ELIXIR:
We are pleased to host an event with Rudy Rucker.  Computer Science professor at San Jose State, noted futurist, and two-time winner of the Philip K. Dick award, Rudy's previous novels include AS ABOVE, SO BELOW, SPACELAND, and many others.  FREK AND THE ELIXIR is one of those great, rare titles that actually deserves the description "a romp!".

Saturday, April 17th at 6pm, Seth Lindberg, reading and signing DENYING DEATH:
Come meet Seth Lindberg as he presents DENYING DEATH - A collection of 10 stories (with co-authors Gary W. Conner and Brett Alexander Savory) that explore the imagery of death and loss, touch upon the pain of life, and tread upon the consequences of the denial of such basic truths.  Seth has contributed short stories to THE DARKER SIDE, BRAINBOX, and to

Friday, April 23rd at 7:30 PM, Robots Are Us! - A Benefit for the new Fountain Award for Speculative Literature:
The Speculative Literature Foundation ( is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting literary quality in speculative fiction.  "Speculative literature" is a catch-all term meant to inclusively span the breadth of fantastic literature, encompassing fiction ranging from science fiction to ghost stories to folk and fairy tales to magical realism to modern myth-making.  With the launch of the Fountain Award, a $1000 prize for excellence in short fiction, we hope to encourage this thriving tradition.  Sponsored by the Speculative Literature Foundation, with Strange Horizons, other magazine, Emerald City, Borderlands Books, and NFG Magazine.
The event features authors Pat Murphy, Rudy Rucker, Ken Wharton.  Terry Bisson, and Charlie Anders, and Omnicircus, an experimental, surreal-psychedelic musical-cabaret group led by artist Frank Garvey.
Where: Omnicircus, located at 550 Natoma Street in San Francisco.  For directions, see .
When:  Doors at 7 PM, with complimentary drinks.  A free reception will follow.
Cost: $10-20, sliding scale.  All proceeds go directly to the Fountain Award!
For more information, contact Jeremy Smith at or call Omnicircus at 415-701-0686.

Saturday, May 1st at 2 PM, Howard V. Hendrix reading and signing THE LABYRINTH KEY:

In his latest science fiction thriller, the year is 2015, and an informational arms race between the U.S. and China is prompting the development of a quantum computer with the capabilities to crack any enemy's codes, yet keep its own secrets secure.  The government that achieves this goal will win absolute dominance in world affairs, as no other computer system will be safe from the reach of this master machine.  The story ranges from China to America to Italy and Israel, from Kabbalah and alchemy and sixteenth-century memory palace systems to twenty-first century work in quantum mechanics, cryptology, and information theory.
Mr. Hendrix is the author of five novels including LIGHTPATHS and BETTER ANGELS.  Don't miss this chance to meet him and check out THE LABYRINTH KEY!

Saturday, May 15th from 3-6 PM, MORBID CURIOSITY #8 Reading:

It's that time again!  In one of our most popular and fun annual events, Automatism Press presents the latest edition of MORBID CURIOSITY (#8).  Morbid Curiosity focuses on TRUE first-person encounters with the unsavory, unwise, unorthodox, and unusual.  The stories are sometimes cool, sometimes creepy, always interesting.  The event is hosted by the fabulous Loren Rhoads, MORBID CURIOSITY's editor and publisher; readers will include Jill Tracy, M. Parfitt, Simon Wood, Aldyth Beltane, Justin Hall, Beth Touchette-Laughlin, Katrina James, and William Selby.  Please join us for this curious event.

Sunday, May 16th at 2 PM, Patrick Califia reading and signing MORTAL COMPANION:

MORTAL COMPANION is the erotic story of Ulric, a desperately lonely 600-year-old vampire who has finally found his soulmate in Lilith, a mortal woman.  Unfortunately, Adulfa, Ulric's half-sister, has spent centuries seeking vengeance against him for making her a vampire.  When brother and sister clash over possession of Lilith, neither will emerge unscathed.  And for Liltih, there are far worse fates than death.
Among many other things, Patrick Califia is a licensed marriage and family therapist and prolific author of essays, fiction, and poetry, including MACHO SLUTS, NO MERCY, PUBLIC SEX, and DOC AND FLUFF.

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 the author's books signed or inscribed for you.  We can then either hold it until you can come in to pick it up or we can ship it 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.  Call or email for details.

Chapter Two - Book Listings

Small Press Features

TALES OF THE UNEASY by Violet Hunt (Ash-Tree Press, Limited Edition Hardcover (500 copies), $46.00) -
“From her earliest days, Violet Hunt (1866–1942) lived a life steeped in art and literature.  Her father was an artist who was associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, while her mother was a novelist.  Although the young Violet was groomed for a career as an artist, she soon switched to the world of letters, where she associated with, and was a friend of, such luminaries as Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, H. G. Wells, May Sinclair, and Ford Madox Ford, with whom she lived for several years.
Perhaps the greatest literary influence on Hunt was Henry James; and when Hunt began writing her 'tales of the uneasy' it was James's elegant excursions into the genre upon which she drew.  Her tales explore issues of sin, guilt, and personal relationships which do not conform to the standard pattern of their time.  The supernatural, when it intrudes, does so subtly, yet with chilling style.
This volume, the first of two containing Violet Hunt's complete supernatural fiction, contains all nine stories from Tales of the Uneasy, originally published in 1911.  One of the pieces—the novella 'Tiger Skin'—was subsequently revised and published separately in 1924, and editor John Pelan has chosen this later text for inclusion here.  In his introduction he explains why; and also looks at the uneasy life in letters of Violet Hunt, a woman whose experiences were just as fascinating as any of her fictions." - From the publisher's website ( ).

LITTLE GODS by Tim Pratt (Prime Books, Trade Paperback, $17.95) -
"Within these pages you will encounter a train to the underworld, a feral bicycle, a thief with peculiar eating habits, an amnesiac superhero, a haunted zoot suit, star-crossed monsters, fallen angels on vacation and other wonders.  From fast-paced sorecererpunk to weird Westerns, from the loss of childhood innocence to the heat death of the universe, these stories will delight, surprise, and move you" - from the dust jacket
CHANGING OF FACES by Tim Lebbon (PS Publishing, Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Hardcover (300 copies), $40.00 and Signed Numbered Limited Edition Trade Paperback (500 copies), $16.00) - The sequel to NAMING OF PARTS.

THE TOUCH by F. Paul Wilson (Borderlands Press, Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Hardcover ((1000 copies), $60.00) - Volume 2 in The Adversary Cycle.


JIGSAW MEN by Gary Greenwood (PS Publishing, Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Hardcover (300 copies), $40.00; Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Trade Paperback (500 copies), $16.00)

BALANCE OF TRADE - A LIADEN UNIVERSE NOVEL by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Meisha Merlin, Hardcover, $25.00) - Signed by both authors.

AN OPEN BOOK by Orson Scott Card (Subterranean, Hardcover, $25.00) - The first collection of poems from the author of ENDER'S GAME.

TO RIDE HELL’S CHASM by Janny Wurts (Meisha Merlin, Hardcover, $25.00) - Includes a bookplate signed by the author.

MIRROR OF THE NIGHT by E.C. Tubb, (Sarob, Trade Paperback, $16.95)

New and Notable

PANDORA'S STAR by Peter Hamilton (Del Rey, Hardcover, $26.95) -
Peter Hamilton's got his groove back.  His set pieces include commuter trains that take you through wormholes, defensive domes over cities, alien junkies hooked on human emotion, and the like.  There's a cast of thousands, from media whores to genetically designed police, mixing it up through their multi-century lifetimes.  The Bug-Eyed Monster is less subtle than a 50s drive-in movie, and just as enjoyable.  And this is the first of two books, so there's yet more to come.  Compulsively readable. - Recommended by Claud

NEWTON’S WAKE by Ken MacLeod (Orbit, Hardcover, $34.60) - I haven't heard very much about it yet but here are a few "word-bites" -- Post computational singularity -- Scottish organized crime families -- competition between colony worlds -- cut-throat space traders.  Given MacLeod's track record, I'm expecting a damn good book. - Recommended (sight unseen!) by Alan.

SETHRA LAVODE - VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA, VOL. 3 by Steven Brust (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) - By extension, a sequel to THE PHOENIX GUARDS and 500 YEARS AFTER (collectively known as THE KHAAVREN ROMANCES).  The conclusion of an entertaining swashbuckling adventure in the tradition of Alexander Dumas. - Recommended by Alan.

LIQUOR by Poppy Z. Brite (Three Rivers Press, Trade Paperback, $13.95) -  This follow-up to THE VALUE OF X is a ". . . manic, spicy romp through the kitchens, back alleys, dive bars, and drug deals of the country's most sublimely ridiculous city . . ." - from the dust jacket

MIDNIGHT TIDES - MALAZAN VOL.5 by Steven Erikson (Bantam UK, Hardcover, $38.28, and Trade Paperback, 25.45) - Finally in print!  We'll be getting more in stock in the next week or so.  Please call to reserve a copy.

COYOTE COWGIRL by Kim Antieau (Forge, Trade Paperback, $14.95) - Recommended to Borderlands by Charles De Lint, also recommended by Jude.

MARKET FORCES by Richard Morgan (Gollancz, Hardcover, $19.96) - "The Future is for Sale" - special pricing on this edition

1634: THE GALILEO AFFAIR by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis (Baen, Hardcover, $25.00) - Third in the sequence begun with 1632.

TWO TRAINS RUNNING by Lucius Shepard (Golden Gryphon, Hardcover, $22.95)

KING OF FOXES - CONCLAVE OF SHADOWS, VOL. 2 by Raymond Feist (Eos, Hardcover, $24.95)

THE LABYRINTH KEY by Howard Hendrix (Del Rey, Trade Paperback, $14.95) - please see write-up in Events section of this newsletter 

FREK AND THE ELIXIR by Rudy Rucker (Tor, Hardcover, $27.95)

GLASS DRAGONS - A NOVEL OF THE MOONWORLDS SAGA by Sean McMullen (Tor, Hardcover, $27.95)

New in Mass Market

THE LORD OF CASTLE BLACK - VISCOUNT OF ADRILANKHA, VOL. 2 by Steven Brust (Tor, Mass Market, $7.99)

MARCH TO THE STARS by David Weber and John Ringo (Baen, Mass Market, $7.99)

LOST IN TRANSMISSION by Wil McCarthy (Bantam, Mass Market, $6.99)

HAUNTED AIR by F. Paul Wilson (Tor, Mass Market, $7.99)

AMERICAN GOTHIC by Michael Romkey (Del Rey, Mass Market, $6.99)

CROSSFIRE by Nancy Kress (Tor, Mass Market, $6.99)

GODS OLD AND DARK - WORLD GATES, VOL. 3 by Holly Lisle (Eos, Mass Market, $6.99)

DRAGON OF DESPAIR by Jane Lindskold (Tor, Mass Market, $7.99)

THE RAGWITCH by Garth Nix (Eos, Mass Market, 6.99)

DEVLIN’S JUSTICE - SWORD OF CHANGE, VOL. 3 by Patricia Bray (Del Rey, Mass Market, $6.50)

TALON OF THE SILVER HAWK - CONCLAVE OF SHADOWS, VOL. 1 by Raymond Feist (HarperTorch, Mass Market, $7.99)

UPRIGHT MAN by Michael Marshall (Jove, Mass Market, $6.99)

THE RETURN OF SANTIAGO by Mike Resnick (Tor, Mass Market, $7.99)

THE BRIAR KING - KINGDOMS OF THORN & BONE, VOL. 1 by Gregory Keyes (Del Rey, Mass Market, $7.50)

SEEDS OF BETRAYAL - WINDS OF THE FORELANDS, VOL. 2 by David B. Coe (Tor, Mass Market, $7.99)
This newsletter is distributed monthly free of charge and may be distributed without charge so long all the following information is included.

Dispatches from the Border
Editor - Cary Heater
Assistant Editor - Alan Beatts
Contributors - Francis Carr, Jude Feldman

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