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Events and News from Borderlands Books

July, 2012

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Upcoming Author Events

Dan Wells, THE HOLLOW CITY (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, July 21st at 3:00 pm

Clarion West Fundraiser Reading with authors Cassie Alexander, An Owomoyela, Tim Pratt, Rudy Rucker, Rachel Swirsky, and Ysabeau S. Wilce, Saturday, July 21st at 5:00 pm

"The Coming Century of War Against Your Computer" featuring Cory Doctorow at The Novellus Theatre @ the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Tuesday, July 31st at 7:30 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)

And stay tuned, because coming up we'll have Daniel Suarez,  Kat Richardson, Steven Erikson, Brent Weeks, and many, many others!


* Because of the way copy deadlines fell last month, we missed reporting on the death of science fiction legend Ray Bradbury at the age of 91.  There are endless obituaries available, but instead we'd like to call your attention to this sweet little article on the origin of an inspiration, published by Bradbury just a few days before his death.

* We're sorry to report the death of author James (Jim) Young in mid-June.  One of the founders of MiniCon, career diplomat, actor, friend, all-around wonderful guy.  Too soon, Jim.

* Our friends at virtual Handee Books now have a blog!  Check them out here:

* Surreal, beautiful and fantastic "Wonderland" photo series created by photographer Kirsty Mitchell in her mother's memory:

* Loren Rhoads (local author, and editor of the legendary "Morbid Curiosity Magazine" and the book MORBID CURIOSITY CURES THE BLUES,) will be teaching a class at the Writing Salon on Saturday, July 14th from 10 am  - 4 pm.  The topic is "Reading, Performing or Presenting in Public: Let Your Voice be Heard", and the workshop will focus on preparation for reading or presentations, and reducing anxiety.  The cost is $110, and you can sign up here:

* As part of our long-term plan to increase the range of titles we carry (without diluting our focus), Borderlands will begin carrying the top 3 - 5 titles in selected categories from the New York Times Bestseller List in July.  So, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY coming soon!  (Alan is holding his head in his hands at this moment and weeping softly.)  But seriously, we'll be carrying some titles solely due to their position on the NYT list, regardless of our opinions of them.  As always, we do not believe that it is our right as booksellers to act as censors, and in fact it is our duty not to.

From the Office

Terry Goodkind announced last month that his next novel would be self-published as an ebook <>.  I was surprised to hear this since, with the exception of one novel, all of his books have been published by Tor Books.  Since 1994 his relationship with Tor has steadily built his popularity to its current height where his books consistently appear in the top 10 spots on the New York Times bestseller list.  Curious, I did some looking around to try to find why he is moving to self-publishing.

I couldn't find out much.  There wasn't anything I could find on his website explaining the reasons and his agent didn't give Publishers Weekly any, either.  Likewise Goodkind's comments at PW didn't shed any light (despite one commentator asking pretty much directly).  However, on June 30th, he posted an extensive piece on his blog <> which, though still not giving a clear, concise answer, does state that he chose to self-publish because, "We did it this way because we could, because the story needed to be told, and this was the best way to tell it."  That might mean that he had trouble with his editor at Tor and decided to publish the book "the way it was meant to be" without editorial oversight, but the statement is ambiguous.  Maybe it means, for reasons I cannot guess, that the story was better served in ebook format.  Or maybe he did it just because he could?

Since I was still curious, I looked at the time-line of his recent work and some other details.  It's an interesting picture.

The final book of his fantasy series, Confessor, was published by Tor in 2007.  In 2008 he signed a contract to publish three "mainstream" novels with a different publisher, Penguin Books.  One was published in 2009, The Law of Nines, and was not successful compared to his other books (it hit the NYT bestseller list at #10, whereas Confessor hit at #2, and Phantom hit #1).  The significant numbers of hardcover copies that were remaindered also suggests it was not a success (when there are stacks of a hardcover for sale at Barnes & Noble for $2.99, it is not a good sign).

The following year he signed a three book contract with Tor <>.  His next novel, The Omen Machine, was published by Tor in 2011.  No other books have appeared from Penguin to date.

The current ebook was apparently scheduled to be published by Tor but was withdrawn quite recently.  However, despite the current ebook, Goodkind has said he will still be publishing with Tor and that there will be another book soon.  Given that, according to his own blog, the ebook was finished a few weeks ago, I wonder what the quality of the novel delivered to Tor will be.  Unless it's already written and delivered (in which case I'd expect it would be announced already), he's going to have to haul ass to get something to them soon enough for it to come out anytime near his promised "sometime later this year, possibly early next."

To my eye the picture overall looks like Goodkind left Tor for more money (probably) and a bigger audience (by writing a main-stream thriller).  He failed to get anything like the sales that his new publisher was looking for and either they kicked him to the curb or he broke the contract.  The he went back to his old publisher, who took him on.  But then, not happy with them for some reason, he has now decided to self-publish.

Bear in mind that Tor, the publisher he's treated this way, is the company that gave him his start.  Granted, publishing is complicated, being an author is hard, and that combination makes for some difficult decisions.  But still, perhaps Mr. Goodkind is not the most loyal fellow on the planet.

What is interesting to me is the possible long-term effect of authors going the self-publishing route after building a reputation with a traditional publisher.  Goodkind isn't the only 'big name" author who has chosen to dump his or her publisher in favor of self-publishing.  When that happens it's a bitter pill for publishers who have taken a risk publishing an author in the first place and then spent a fair amount of time and money promoting the author; which made the author popular enough to profitably self-publish.  Of course I'm not suggesting that authors should be permanently tied to their publishers.  There are many solid reasons that authors should go looking for a different publisher -- a bad relationship with their editor, publishers failing to live up to their obligations, an unwillingness to support a direction that the author wants to take with their work, and so on.

But I think that working with a company for as long as it's convenient and profitable, then leaving them when it looks like you'll make more money elsewhere is a bit questionable.  Writing isn't like working a "normal" job.  A publisher and an author work together to sell as many books as possible.  Granted, the power imbalance between the two parties often makes it a strained partnership (usually the publisher has much more power than the author, though this shifts based on how much income the author brings in) but it is still more of a partnership than an employee / employer relationship.  If an employee gets a better offer, I don't think that there is usually anything wrong with them changing jobs.  But when a partner in a business leaves to make more money elsewhere and reduces the remaining partner's business in the process . . . I think that the partner left behind is justified in feeling ill-used.

However, given the power imbalance I mentioned, publishers are far from helpless in this situation.  There is no reason that a publishing contract can't include a prohibition against the author self-publishing anything without the publisher's permission.  And for first time authors (who have almost no power compared to their publishers), clauses like that may become a standard part of many contracts.  Of course, such authors could just decline and self-publish.  But self-publishing adds a couple of jobs for the author and many authors just want to be a writer, not a publicist, copy editor, and book designer.  Plus, for an author getting started, there is a significant benefit associated with having their publisher's representatives talking to booksellers all over the country along with all the other publicity that even the least important title receives.

Authors like Terry Goodkind or J.K. Rowling won't be affected by this but the next generation of authors will be.  On balance, some protection against self-publishing for the publisher don't seem totally unreasonable.  If an author is lucky, a publisher will invest a lot of time and money to make the author's books (and, by extension, the author) successful and well known.  One way to think of publishers is as investors.  Each author represents an investment in time and money.  In many cases, this investment doesn't pay off and the publisher loses money.  But, publishers are able to stay in business because some authors become very profitable and offset the losses on other authors.  

I suppose that someone could argue that publishers make an unfair amount of profit from people like Terry Goodkind since, when an author sells huge numbers of books, publishers make a great deal of money (much, much more than the author does).  However, the extension of that argument seems to me to be that investors in companies like Microsoft or Apple are making an unfair profit when their shares go from $40 each to $350 each.  Our society has generally been in agreement for centuries that when someone is willing to risk their money on something that may or may not be successful, they're entitled to all the profit that comes from that risk and that they're allowed to protect that profit within the law.  Should publishers be held to any other standard?

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1) Redshirts by John Scalzi
2) Existence by David Brin
3) Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
4) Railsea by China Mieville
5) 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
6) Lucky Bastard by S.G. Browne
7) Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds
8) The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
9) Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer
10) Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

1) Blackout by Mira Grant
2) Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
3) Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
4) Feed by Mira Grant
5) Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
6) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
7) Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
8) Deadline by Mira Grant
9) Year's Best SF vol. 17 edited by David B. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer
10) Out of the Waters by David Drake

Trade Paperbacks
1) The Magicians by Lev Grossman
2) The Magician King by Lev Grossman
3) Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
4) Reamde by Neal Stephenson
5) The Black Opera by Mary Gentle

Book Club Info

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, August 12th, at 5 pm to discuss READY PLAYER ONE by Ernest Cline.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, July 15th, at 6 pm to discuss PANDAEMONIUM by Daryl Gregory.  The book for BEFORE THE FALL, DURING THE FALL, AFTER THE FALL by Nancy Kress.  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!

Dan Wells, THE HOLLOW CITY (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, July 21st at 3:00 pm - From the publisher: "Dan Wells won instant acclaim in 2010 for his three-novel debut about the adventures of John Wayne Cleaver, a heroic young man who is a potential serial killer. All who read the trilogy (I Am Not A Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want to Kill You) were struck by the distinctive and believable voice Wells created for John and held at the edge of their seats with the thrills and chills Wells spun. Now he returns with another innovative thriller told in a very different, equally unique voice. A voice that comes to us from the realm of madness.  Michael Shipman is paranoid schizophrenic; he suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and complex fantasies of persecution and horror. That's bad enough. But what can he do if some of the monsters he sees turn out to be real?  Who can you trust if you can't even trust yourself? THE HOLLOW CITY is a mesmerizing journey into madness, where the greatest enemy of all is your own mind."

Clarion West Fundraiser Reading with authors Cassie Alexander, An Owomoyela, Tim Pratt, Rudy Rucker, Rachel Swirsky, and Ysabeau S. Wilce, Saturday, July 21st at 5:00 pm - Join us for an awesome fund-raising reading for Clarion West!  Clarion West is an intensive six-week workshop for writers preparing for professional careers in science fiction and fantasy, held annually in Seattle, Washington, USA. As Clarion West is a non-profit, it relies on donations from members of the writing community -- the Clarion West Write-a-thon is a pledge drive that runs in conjunction with Clarion West. The Write-a-thon lets people create public writing goals for themselves and helps to raise awareness of Clarion West in the community. All of the talented authors reading at Borderlands are either Clarion West or Clarion alumni, or have taught in the program.  If you are interested in learning more about Clarion West, or are participating in the Write-a-thon and want to meet others like yourself in the Bay Area, or just want to check out some incredibly talented authors, this reading is the place to be!

"The Coming Century of War Against Your Computer" featuring Cory Doctorow at The Novellus Theatre @ the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Tuesday, July 31st at 7:30 pm - Long Now and the Electronic Frontier Foundation bring Cory Doctorow to San Francisco for a glimpse into the future of computing and the increasing fight for control over our freedom both online and offline. The war against computer freedom will just keep escalating, Doctorow contends. The copyright wars, net neutrality, and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) were early samples of what is to come. Victories in those battles were temporary. Conflict in the decades ahead will feature ever higher stakes, more convoluted issues, and far more powerful technology. The debate is about how civilization decides to conduct itself and in whose interests.  “Cory Doctorow is one of the great context-setters of our generation,” says Tim O’Reilly.  Borderlands will be on hand to sell books at this event.  Get your tickets now!  (See this page for more info; tickets are $10.) <>

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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