ABOUT THE STORE : NEWSLETTER
DISPATCHES FROM THE BORDER
Events and News from Borderlands Books
Chapter One - Event Information, News, and Special Feature
Borderlands Informal Pot Luck Holiday Party, Friday, December 16th at 6:00 pm
It's December, which means
all kinds of things . . . but at Borderlands it means that, as usual, we'll
have complementary coffee, hot chocolate, and tea all month (with the occasional
sweet treat as well) and our hours will be extended. From December
3rd until December 18th we'll be open from noon 'til 10 pm on Friday and
Saturday and noon to 8 pm Sunday through Thursday. For the last week
before Christmas we'll be open from noon to 10 pm every day. We are
also, as always, open by appointment if your schedule is super busy.
Just give us a call and we'll set up a time to open the store for you.
Also, we'll be working some late nights so if you're a little late and want
to give us a call, we're willing to stay open later so you can get your last-minute
From The Office
Normally I try to keep the topics in the column focused on our field or on books and bookselling in general. More importantly I try to keep away from San Francisco-centric topics. I know that this newsletter goes out to people all over the country and beyond. There's no need to fill your valuable reading time (there never is enough of that, at least in my world) with "local news". That said, Borderlands is a San Francisco business and I feel we have an obligation to our home town. So, if you don't live in or frequently visit SF and you're short on time, please feel free to skip the following. However, though what I'm going to talk about is specifically related to SF, the essential idea applies anywhere in the United States. For that matter, I'd bet that it applies to most of the developed world.
For years booksellers have been talking about the "evil" chain stores who are taking away their customers and forcing them out of business. When I first got into bookselling I had no idea that such a controversy existed and I really didn't see any difference between buying books at an independent and buying them at a chain. Once I got into the book business, I quickly found that booksellers in general were pretty rabid on this subject. The problem was that, at bottom, all the arguments that I heard in favor of independent stores seemed to be based on a vague but very concrete conviction that indies were "better" than chains. When such an argument comes from the owner of an indie store it lacks a certain credibility. My attitude, despite owning a bookstore, was, "Let people decide for themselves. If chain stores do a better job of giving people what they want, good for the chains. If Borderlands fails I guess I'll go open a woodworking shop."
But, in the last year or so, my opinion has changed and that change has nothing to do with my store or even bookselling in general.
I love my city. Rightly or wrongly, there are very few other places in the world I would chose to live. And even if I didn't love SF, it's where I'm living and simple self interest should motivate me to try to make it a nice place to live. One of the most important things for any community's health and success is, ugly but true, a reasonable amount of money moving around. It doesn't have to be a lot of money but there needs to be a fair amount, especially for a city like SF. There has to be a repeating cycle in which Joe buys bread from Sam's store, Sam pays Mary to work at his store, Mary goes out for dinner at Susan's restaurant, and Susan spends some of her profits paying the rent on her apartment, which is owned by Joe.
Needless to say this is a ridiculously simple example but it does get the point across. Add to that picture the city taking a bit of money out of most of those exchanges in the form of taxes. The money the city grabs is spent on making sure the streets don't fall apart and that something resembling drinkable water comes out of Susan's taps when she turns them on. Of course the city also wastes a ton of money on things like palm trees (a pet peeve of mine), but you get the idea.
But what happens if the person who owns Susan's apartment building lives in Los Angeles? They don't take their money to Sam's store to buy bread. They take it to the gal who owns a store in LA. That money is now supporting the people who live in LA -- not San Francisco. Granted, it's a tiny amount of money but when scenarios like that happen over and over again, multiple times a day, it can add up to a hell of a lot of cash.
Recently there have been a number of independent studies in various cities in the US investigating the difference between the effect locally owned stores and chain stores have on the economy of the communities where they are located. One would expect that more of the money spent at local stores would remain in the community (obviously some money has to leave the community to pay for goods manufactured elsewhere). What surprised me was the degree of difference. I won't bore you with all the numbers but look at this -
In Maine a study found that local stores returned $44.60 of every $100 in sales to the local area in the form of wages, taxes, and profits. Chains, on the other hand, returned $14.10 out of every $100. (see note 1)
In Andersonville (part of the Chicago metro area) similar figures were $68 out of $100 for locals versus $43 out of $100 for chains. (see note 2)
And in Austin, Texas, a bookstore-specific study revealed that the local store returned $45 per $100 whereas the chain returned $13 per $100. (see note 3)
I was pretty surprised by these figures and others that I've seen. What it means to me is -- forget about the whole "chain stores bad, Indies good" argument -- if I spend money at a locally owned business anywhere from one and a half to three times more of that money will stay in my community. That money will be here, in SF, where it will help my friends make rent, keep my favorite restaurant or bar open, and maybe, just maybe, give the city enough tax money to fix that huge pothole on my way home from work.
The alternative is spending it at a chain store where a good chunk of my money will go places like Rogers, Arkansas (headquarters of WalMart), which, though a pretty town, is not where I (or anyone I know) lives.
Before I let you go (assuming you made it this far -- thanks for the patience), there is a specific point to all this. Very recently Borderlands became a member of the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Alliance (yup, another unpronounceable acronym -- SFLOMA. "sif-loma"?) ( http://sfloma.org ). It may come as a shock to those of you who know me but I'm not a big "joiner". However, SFLOMA is very different from most business associations. Its specific purpose is to support and promote locally owned businesses in the interest of creating and sustaining vibrant local economies. The whole basis for the organization is the thesis that I just presented -- you and your community will benefit if you support locally owned businesses. There are also a host of other reasons to shop locally that you can find on their (still under construction) web site. There is also a nice article at SF Gate about what they're doing ( http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/11/29/BUGN3FS8911.DTL ).
So, please tell your friends, family, co-workers, and strangers on the street -- shop locally, it's like money in your pocket. And look for stores showing the SFLOMA membership sticker in the windows. But most of all -- have a wonderful, peaceful and happy holiday season.
Note 1 - The Economic Impact of Locally Owned Businesses vs. Chains: A Case Study in Midcoast Maine - September 2003 By Institute for Local Self-Reliance ( http://www.newrules.org/retail/midcoaststudy.pdf )
Note 2 - Andersonville Study By Civic Economics ( http://www.civiceconomics.com/Andersonville/html/reports.html )
Note 3 - Economic Impact Analysis: Local Merchants vs. Chain Retailers - December 2002 By Civic Economics, Austin IBA ( http://www.liveablecity.org/lcfullreport.pdf )
Since it's That Time of Year Again, here is a quick, opinionated sampling of neat items we at Borderlands think you should give to other people or pick up for yourself. We have far, far too many interesting choices to list all of them, so stop by, have a complimentary cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and browse at your leisure! We will also quite cheerfully gift wrap for you free of charge, though we readily admit that some employees are better at it than others. (Some packages may have a Lovecraftian quality, and be "of no human shape." You have been warned.)
Narnia, of course, is ubiquitous this year. We have a thorough and comprehensive selection to satisfy all your Narnian desires, from used paperbacks to the $118 illustrated hardcover boxed set. Alan's favorite is The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader", and Jude's is The Horse and His Boy -- which is yours? If you buy the Complete Chronicles of Narnia, Jude will throw in a rant about the (in her opinion) silly new sequence of the books free of charge. Also, speaking of rants, if you would like to hear the entertaining saga of how the giant wardrobe in the window was built, email Jude at email@example.com and she'll send you the story.
The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss by Theodor Seuss Geisel - You will simply love this book. Perhaps you should buy two, so you don't crease the one you're planning on giving away when you read it.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman - A beloved, funny book, and a joy to give.
The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche by Peter S. Beagle - On my top ten list of Favorite Books of All Time - Jude.
The Gashlycrumb Tinies Poster - The classic grey poster illustrating all 26 unfortunate children, in verse. We also have favorites here. Jude's is "X is for Xerxes, devoured by mice."
Everyone, but _everyone_, needs a Moleskine journal, either in the pocket or the standard size. Plain, lined or graph paper.
Borderlands has calendars a-plenty. Dragonology to Brom, Michael Parkes to Frazetta, Views From the Hubble, Fairies, The Art of Heavy Metal and so many more. We should all know what day it is.
We have a large selection of lovely wooden boxes, Happy Tree Friends doo-dads, cool gothicky candlesticks, and some of the Best Dragon Boxes Ever.
Thanks to Jeremy, our DVD selection has increased hugely. Find a great old favorite like the original psychedelic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (yep, the original Gene Wilder film was called "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", not "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" like the book & new Johnny Depp movie), or something new and cool like Shaun of the Dead! And don't forget to take advantage of our limited time offer on DVD boxed sets (sets with more than three disks) -- buy any full-price DVD and you can have 20% off the price of any DVD boxed set in the store. One of our staff favorites is the Twilight Zone set.
We have a slew of signed books to choose from - Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson, A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park, Thud! by Terry Pratchett, and many, many others.
As usual, we are very happy to make suggestions to help you find the perfect book for that finicky person.
Of course, if you are really, really unsure of their tastes, why not a gift certificate in any amount you choose? If you are feeling mischievous, you can give one in the amount of $29.62, or $101.01 with no explanation.
Top Sellers At Borderlands
1) A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
2) Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson
3) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
4) Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson
5) The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
6) Learning the World by Ken MacLeod
7) At All Costs by David Weber
8) Snake Agent by Liz Williams (Nightshade Books)
9) Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
10) Loop by Koji Suzuki
1) A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2) Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson
3) The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
4) The Good, the Bad and the Undead by Kim Harrison
5) Forty Signs of Rain by Kim Stanley Robinson
6) Bad Men by John Connolly
7) The World Before by Karen Traviss
8) The Knight by Gene Wolfe
9) Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
10) Swastika by Michael Slade
1) Complete Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
2) Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
3) Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
4) Liaden Universe Companion vol. 1 by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
5) Looking for Jake by China Mieville
The Screening Room
The DVD section of Borderlands Books is now under new management. My name is Jeremy Lassen, and I am the new DVD buyer. I'm a longtime employee of Borderlands, in addition to being a book geek and a total film fanatic. Prior to the invention of DVDs, I searched high and low for my favorite movies in letter-boxed editions. . .I owned a laser disk player, and I have gone on long-winded diatribes concerning the subtle allure of Italian horror movies.
Having so thoroughly established my bonafides as a qualified DVD buyer, I wanted to let you know what my basic DVD buying philosophy is. My goal is to turn the DVD section of Borderlands into your one-stop-shop for fantasy, science fiction and horror. Rather then focus on new releases and blockbuster extravaganzas, I'm going to work hard to bring to everyone's attention the overlooked gems and obscure titles that you may not have heard of, but are sure to enjoy. I'm going to focus on older titles, but will try and have an extremely large cross section of genre films, old and new. I'm not going to be all-inclusive, because, quite frankly, there is a lot of crap that I just don't think anybody will be interested in -- but I'm not going to be snobbish; I like both high and low brow movies, and the diversity of the DVD selection will reflect that. In addition to bulking out the selection of titles in store, I'm going to be writing a column for the store newsletter focusing on the films that I think are particularly noteworthy.
In the wake of a slate of Halloween releases, I want to point out that there has never been a better time to sample the films of British film studio Hammer Studios. Hammer Studios first came to international prominence with The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), which starred Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. This was the beginning of long series of horror films that combined the gothic storytelling elements and icons of the Universal horror films of the 30's and 40's (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man, The Mummy, etc.) with a more modern view of sex and sexuality, and oddly surreal/British visions of obscure Eastern European haunts.
There is no one single collection of Hammer films, as the home video rights are spread across several major studios, and a bunch of independents. Universal, MGM, and Warner all have several Hammer DVD sets and/or single disks available, as does home video distributor Anchor Bay (though many of the Anchor Bay titles are out of print -- grab the ones we have while you still can!)
A great choice for someone wanting to sample one of the best of Hammer horror is The Horror of Dracula (1958). This one stars Christopher Lee, playing Dracula for the first time, with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing. It is directed by the director Terrance Fisher, who is responsible for a large number of high profile, high quality Hammer movies. This movie is available on its own, from Warner Home video, or as part of Warner's Hammer box set.
For something a bit less traditional, and part of Hammer's "later period" which was a bit heavier on the sex, one should catch Christopher Lee in To The Devil a Daughter (1976). (This is a controversial, sexed-up adaptation of Dennis Wheatley's novel of the same name.) It's not a great movie. . .but it's a fun, guilty pleasure of mine.
Speaking of guilty pleasures, one of the best lesbian vampire movies ever made is Vampyres (1974), directed by Spanish director Jose Ramon Larraz. Subtly erotic, and filled with a genuinely creepy atmosphere, this movie outshines nearly everything in the lesbian vampire film subgenre (which is filled with relatively boring movies by Jess Franco). Vampyres has been brought to home video, uncut and fully restored, by independent Home video producer Blue Underground. This DVD release features a fascinating commentary track by the director, as well as interviews with the stars Marianne Morris, and Anulka. This movie shows how hot and creepy well done erotic horror movies can be, and puts most contemporary horror films to shame.
Finally, I wanted to point out that the horror films of legendary RKO producer Val Lewton are finally available on DVD. Lewton was known for taking fresh young directing talent (Robert Wise, Jacques Tourneur, etc.), and producing low budget thrillers that were often much better then the A list movies that were being made at the same time. A box set of these films and a Val Lewton documentary is available now, called (appropriately enough) The Val Lewton Horror Collection, and it contains Cat People, The Curse of the Cat People, I Walked With a Zombie, The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead, Bedlam, The Leopard Man, The Ghost Ship, The 7th Victim, and Shadows in the Dark (two films on each double sided disk).
For those who want to sample the joys of Val Lewton without buying the entire box set, the films are available individually as double features, though the disk that contains The 7th Victim and Shadows in the Dark( the Lewton Documentary) is only available as part of the box set. For the first-time Lewton viewer, I'd recommend either of the double features "I Walked With a Zombie / The Body Snatcher", or "The Cat People / The Curse of the Cat People."
I hope you find these DVD suggestions helpful. If you watch any of these films, please drop me a note and let me know what you thought of them. And if Borderlands is missing any of your favorite Horror, SF, or fantasy movies, be sure to drop me a note and let me know, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll get them in stock as quick as I can.
Last but not least, I'm doing a special promotion in honor of the release of the complete Buffy the Vampire Slayer boxed set (all seven seasons in one lovely slip case). For a limited time all our DVD boxed sets (specifically sets containing more than three disks) are 20% off when you purchase any other full price DVD. Just in time for the holidays.
Until next month . . . .
PS for a much more in-depth history of Hammer Studios, and a complete list of the studios' output, be sure to see ( http://www.eofftv.com/h/ham/hammer_zone.htm )
Book Club Info
The Gay Men's Book Club will meet on Sunday, December 11th, at 5 pm to discuss
TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO by Philip Jose Farmer. The title for January
is TBA. Please contact the group leader, Christopher Rodriguez, at
email@example.com, for more information.
Upcoming Event Details
Friday, December 16th at 6:00 pm: Borderlands Pot Luck Holiday Party -
Consider us an island of sanity (well, perhaps an oasis of quiet . . . the
sanity part is debatable) in your busy holiday season. Join us for
a very informal Pot Luck Party; bring an edible tidbit or drink if you feel
like it (no alcohol, please, though we may go for cocktails after the store
closes), and enjoy a companionable few hours chatting, snacking, browsing,
and petting the cat. Doesn't that sound infinitely preferable to the
normal office holiday party, where one of your co-workers will inevitably
Xerox his or her butt? We thought so.
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
Isaac Asimon’s Book of Facts by Isaac Asimov (Wings, Hardcover,
$10.99) - 3,000 of the most interesting, entertaining, fascinating, unbelievable,
unusual and fantastic facts.
New and Notable DVDs
Featured Upcoming Titles
titles have not arrived yet. You may pre-order any of these books by
calling or emailing us. Prices may be subject to change. Of course,
we have many more titles arriving each week . . . call or email us if you're
curious about a particular upcoming title not listed here.)
All contents unless otherwise noted are the property of
Comments and suggestions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
BACK ISSUES OF NEWSLETTERNOVEMBER, 2005