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Events and News from Borderlands Books

August, 2011

Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Features

Upcoming Author Events

It's the month of international authors at Borderlands, as we welcome Charles Stross (Scotland), Aliette de Bodard (France), and Lauren Beukes (South Africa), plus a few authors (Deborah Beale, Tad Williams, Ellen Datlow, and C.S. Friedman) from closer to home!

Charles Stross, RULE 34 (Ace, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, August 6th at 3:00 pm

Aliette de Bodard, HARBINGER OF THE STORM (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Sunday, August 7th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Deborah Beale and Tad Williams, at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, Saturday, August 13th at 7:00 pm

Lauren Beukes, ZOO CITY (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Sunday, August 21st at 7:00 pm

Ellen Datlow, editor, NAKED CITY (Griffin, Hardcover, $25.99 and Trade Paperback, $15.99) Wednesday, August 24th at 7:00 pm at Borderlands Cafe

C.S. Friedman, LEGACY OF KINGS (DAW, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, September 10th at 5:00 pm

(for more information check the end of this section)


* Would you like to buy the house J.G. Ballard lived in for nearly 50 years?  It's for sale for about $520,000.  <>  Having read HIGH RISE, though, I doubt I'd ever sleep comfortably there.

* Inspired by some quite dismissive reviews of HBO's "Game of Thrones" (actually dismissive commentary on the whole fantasy genre masquerading as dismissive reviews of this program,) Jacqueline Carey has posted an eloquent defense of fantasy readers, with a bit of help from _her_ readers: <>

* As Alan suggested about three years ago < (scroll down a bit to the "From the Office" article)>, giant bookstore chain Borders Books will be liquidated, instead of successfully surviving bankruptcy. <>

* In other bookselling news, there is a rumor going around that Apple might be looking at buying Barnes and Noble <>.  Though it seems insane on the face of it, B&N's Nook is the second most popular ebook readers in the US and B&N has been for sale for months, so . . . .

From the Office

Borders.  The End.

Despite lots of work on the part of the management and staff of Borders Books and Music it wasn't possible for them to emerge from bankruptcy as a viable company.  Last week all their remaining stores began liquidation sales, leaving Barnes and Noble as the only national bookselling chain in the U.S.

There has been a great deal written about what brought Borders to this point.  In hindsight it seems obvious that two major differences between how it operated compared to Barnes and Noble go a long way towards explaining why Borders is closing and B&N is not.

First, it probably wasn't a very wise move for Borders to, in essence, hire Amazon to take care of their on-line bookselling for almost eight years (from 2001 to late 2008).  Helping one of your major competitors build their business on your dime isn't as uncommon a mistake as one might think but that doesn't make it any less potentially lethal.  The result was that Amazon grew so much that they were an actual threat to Borders, at which point Borders disolved the relationship, but by then it was too late for Borders to develop its own web presence fast enough to get any significant market share.  Granted, Amazon would still have out-grown both Borders and Barnes and Noble, but it would have been slower and, more importantly, Borders would have had time to create its own online sales presence.  The way that B&N did.

Second, Borders hasn't been run by booksellers in a very long time.  The last real booksellers left upper management around 1992, shortly after Borders was bought by Kmart.  Kmart discovered that, rather than helping them with the problems they were having with Waldenbooks (which had been bought by Kmart years previously), the addition of Borders made the situation worse, which prompted a fast restructuring and sale of Borders.  But from then on Borders was run by the common (or short-tailed) American CEO.  In comparison, Leonard Riggio, the founder and major shareholder of Barnes & Noble, started selling books while in college and has  (with his brother, Steven) controlled B&N from its beginnings as a chain.

But all the foregoing only explains why Borders fell and Barnes and Noble carries on.  Both businesses have been subject to the same pressures.  It was the weaker one that collapsed first.

If you'll forgive the gruesome imagery, it's like two castaways stranded on a desert island without any food.  The fitter (and, likely, larger) one will live longer before starving.  If his companion dies first . . . well, you can guess what happens.  And so the remaining one gets a reprieve, for a while.

But there's still no food on the island.

Barnes and Noble has had some hard times recently.  In theory, the company has been up for sale for months and months now but there just aren't any takers.  Its sales are down and profits are down moreso.  But Borders closing should give them a boost for a while.  Some analysts have guessed that B&N might capture as much as 900 million to 1.1 billion dollars in sales next year from former Borders customers.  But Borders' sales last year were around 2.25 billion dollars.  That leaves 1.15 billion in sales that are going to go somewhere else.


Some of those sales are going to vanish.  Ebooks in general don't cost as much as physical books and so the total sales in that pool won't be 2.25 billion.  As for the rest . . . .  Mostly to Amazon, I suspect.  Some small portion may go to independent stores as well as "non-traditional markets" (which is publisher-speak for places like the grocery store, Walmart, and CostCo).

Here's the thing, first, people who were shopping at Borders already had chosen a chain over an independent bookshop.  They're not likely to change their minds now.  Second, many of the places that Borders operated don't _have_ any independent bookstores left.  So the choices left are B&N or Amazon.  And Borders customers already had some reason not to be shopping at B&N.

Bottom line, Borders didn't go out of business because of poor business decisions or bad management.  They folded because people weren't buying books in bookstores.  And unless that changes, Barnes and Noble is going to keep wandering around that island looking for some dinner . . . all the while getting thinner and thinner.

- Alan Beatts

Top Sellers At Borderlands

1. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
2. Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
3. Rule 34 by Charles Stross
4. Ghost Story by Jim Butcher
5. Embassytown by China Mieville
6. The Dervish House by Ian MacDonald
7. The Year's Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois
8. Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker
9. Flashback by Dan Simmons
10. Trokia by Alastair Reynolds

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. Heartless by Gail Carriger
2. Deadline by Mira Grant
3. The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross
4. The January Dancer by Michael Flynn
5. Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey
6. The Fall by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
7. Feed by Mira Grant
8.  Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
9. The Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik
10. Late Eclipses by Seanan McGuire tie with Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Trade Paperbacks
1. Sword of Fire and Sea by Erin Hoffman
2. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
3. In Extremis: The Most Extreme Stories by John Shirley
4. Save Yourself, Mammal!: A Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Collection by Zach Weiner
5. The Year's Best Science Fiction 28th Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois tie with Stories: All New Tales edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

Book Club Info

The QSF&F Book Club will meet on Sunday, August 14th, at 5 pm to discuss GOD'S WAR by Kameron Hurley.  Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at, for more information.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club will meet on Sunday, August 21st, at 6 pm to discuss ZOO CITY by Lauren Beukes.  The author will be reading and doing a Q-and-A at 7:00 pm  The book for September is ZERO HISTORY by William Gibson.  Please contact for more information.

Upcoming Event Details

Charles Stross, RULE 34 (Ace, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, August 6th at 3:00 pm - We are thrilled to welcome Charles Stross to Borderlands!  Borderlands' customers really need no introduction to Stross, who is both incredibly prolific and fascinatingly diverse in his novels and short stories.  From the book jacket of the newest novel: "Detective Inspector Liz Kavanaugh is head of the Rule 34 Squad, monitoring the Internet to determine whether people are engaging in harmless fantasies or illegal activities. Three ex-con spammers have been murdered, and Liz must uncover the link between them before these homicides go viral."  Mr. Stross lives in Scotland and doesn't make it to San Francisco very often, so don't miss this rare opportunity to meet him!

Aliette de Bodard, HARBINGER OF THE STORM (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Sunday, August 7th at 3:00 pm - We are happy to welcome Aliette de Bodard to the store for the first time!  She lives in France, so you won't get another chance to meet her anytime soon.  Aliette won the Writers of the Future contest a few years back, and her first novel SERVANT OF THE UNDERWORLD "is a cross between a historical Aztec fantasy and a murder-mystery, featuring ghostly jaguars, bloodthirsty gods and fingernail-eating monsters."  The first two books of the Obsidian and Blood trilogy are available now, and the third will be out shortly.  Come check out the reading and get your questions answered by this up-and-coming star!

SF in SF with authors Deborah Beale and Tad Williams, at the Variety Preview Room in the Hobart Building, Saturday, August 13th 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

Lauren Beukes, ZOO CITY (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Sunday, August 21st at 7:00 pm - We're delighted to host the Arthur C. Clarke Award Winner Lauren Beukes!  Her newest novel is ZOO CITY, and here is the synopsis: "It’s a world not far removed from our own; a world of corrupt media giants, unscrupulous newspapermen, and unctuous music execs; where a person’s worth is measured by their latest social network status and a celebrity is only as important as their imdb listing; where citizens are simultaneously blessed and cursed, literally handicapped, with powers drawn from the bestial avatars of those whose death they’ve caused. In this world, a former addict and scam artist, Zinzi December, survives by using the special powers provided by a sloth to find lost objects for the wealthy and powerful. But when a client is murdered, will her unique abilities work when it comes to finding the truth?"  This is a really unique, impressive book and you shouldn't miss this rare opportunity to meet Lauren, since she lives in South Africa and rarely comes to the US!

Ellen Datlow, editor, NAKED CITY (Griffin, Hardcover, $25.99 and Trade Paperback, $15.99) Wednesday, August 24th at 7:00 pm at Borderlands Cafe - Chat with one of the most awarded, famous, and distinguished editors in the business at this informal meet and greet in the Cafe!  From her biography: "Ellen Datlow is currently tied (with frequent co-editor Terri Windling) as the winner of the most World Fantasy Awards in the organization's history (nine). She has also won, with co-editor Windling, a Bram Stoker Award for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror #13, and with co-editors Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, a Bram Stoker Award for The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror #17. She has also won the International Horror Guild Award for her anthologies The Dark and Inferno; the Shirley Jackson Award for Inferno and Poe; the Locus Award for Best Editor in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, and the Hugo Award for Best Editor 2002, 2005, and Best Editor Short Fiction 2008 and 2009. In addition, SCIFICTION won the Hugo Award for best Web site in 2005 as well as the Wooden Rocket award as best online magazine for 2005. Ellen was named recipient of the 2007 Karl Edward Wagner Award, given at the British Fantasy Convention for 'outstanding contribution to the genre.'" You won't want to miss this chance to meeet Ellen!

C.S. Friedman, LEGACY OF KINGS (DAW, Hardcover, $25.95) Saturday, September 10th at 5:00 pm - How cool is it that we get to host C.S. Friedman?!  Celia Friedman is best known for the Coldfire Trilogy, but deserves equal acclaim for THIS ALIEN SHORE, the Magister Trilogy (of which LEGACY is the third) and her other stand-alone novels.  Celia will read not only from LEGACY, but also from a brand-new, original novella set in the Coldfire world.  Come meet C.S. Friedman and learn about her amazing career and her hirsute writing assistants.

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 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.

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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