December 01, 2004

The 2004 Gift Guide

Here are some gift ideas from the Borderlands staff.  Each suggestion starts with the type of reader and is followed by one (or more) titles that they might like.  If these don't do it for you, we're happy to make more suggestions - just tell us about the person you're shopping for.  Can't decide?  We have gift certificates available in any amount.  Gift wrapping is available, and we can ship almost anywhere in the world.  Enjoy!

Fantasy reader who's waiting for the next George R.R. Martin book - GARDENS OF THE MOON by Steven Erickson (Tor, Hardcover, $24.95)

Cutting edge SF geek - SINGULARITY SKY (Ace, Mass Market, $7.99) and / or the stand alone sequel IRON SUNRISE (Ace, Hardcover, $23.95) by Charley Stross

Literary fantasy reader - THE KNIGHT (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) and THE WIZARD (Tor, Hardcover, $25.95) by Gene Wolfe

High-brow horror reader - IN THE NIGHT ROOM (Random House, Hardcover, $21.95) by Peter Straub

Low-brow horror reader - THE RISING (Leisure, Mass Market, $6.99) by Brian Keene

Lover of classic fantasy - THE COMING OF CONAN THE CIMMERIAN (Del Rey, Trade Paperback, $14.95) and THE BLOODY CROWN OF CONAN by Robert E. Howard (Del Rey, Trade Paperback, $15.95)

Lover of classic SF - THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME VOLUME TWO A (Tor, Hardcover, $29.95) edited by Ben Bova

Ghost Story fan - GREAT GHOST STORIES - TALES OF MYSTERY AND MADNESS either in softcover (Carroll & Graf, Trade Paperback, $12.95) or hardcover (Cemetery Dance, Hardcover, $40.00)

Anyone who needs a great book - HAWKES HARBOR (Tor, Hardcover, $21.95)

Plus we have lots of lovely journals and blank books, wooden boxes, DVDs, and other gifts.

October 01, 2004

Print on Demand or Why Does This Book Cost So Much and Have Such a Bad Cover?

by Alan Beatts

Several years ago a company called Lightning Source started printing books.  A new printing company wouldn't normally be worth much comment but Lightning Source (which was originally called Lightning Print) isn't a normal printer.  They're in the business of what's called Print on Demand publishing, (or POD) and that's not anything like normal printing.

Unlike traditional printing, POD works like this -- a publisher produces an electronic file that is a representation of a complete book; cover, table of contents, layout, the whole deal.  This file is sent to Lightning Source where, for a modest fee (as low as $300 in the early days), they store it and make it ready for the next stage.

August 01, 2004

Caring for Your Library

by Alan Beatts

We're frequently asked by our customers how to store and protect their hardcover books.  Though most avid readers (myself included) don't really think of our books as an investment, a good hardcover SF and Fantasy library that covers the past ten or twenty years is worth a respectable amount of money (i.e. thousands if not tens of thousand of dollars) if sold to a specialty bookseller.  This is even more true if you have been collecting works from various small presses or avidly collect horror fiction.  However, the value of a book drops sharply when it is damaged.  Even damage that seems perfectly acceptable to a reader will reduce the value by as much as twenty-five to fifty percent.  So, I have written the following suggestions that, if followed, will help preserve the value of a collection without interfering with the enjoyment of reading one's books.  

In general, there are five things that damage books -- damp, heat, sunlight, pests and abuse.  Here's how to prevent a good portion of each type of damage along with a few do's and don'ts.

June 01, 2004

End the YA Ghetto

by Jude Feldman

When a customer comes to Borderlands and buys a young adult book, there's a good chance that book will never make it to a young adult.  I can't remember the last time that I sold a copy of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (intended for readers aged 9 - 12) to someone under the age of 25.  There is a reason for this hoarding of teen books -- many of the best books I've read lately have been young adult titles.  TITHE by Holly Black, FIREBIRDS edited by Sharyn November, A STIR OF BONES by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, GREEN ANGEL by Alice Hoffman, BLUE MIRROR by Kathy Koja, and most recently the soon-to-be-released PREDATOR'S GOLD by Philip Reeve, the follow-up to MORTAL ENGINES.  Fiction written for young adults seems to me more dynamic, more risky, and, on the whole, better written than its adult counterpart.  I believe that teens (to their credit) are less forgiving readers;  less willing to put up with meandering plots, less tolerant of unbelievable characters and dialogue, and less likely to stick with an author who has "phoned in" a book.   In addition, since teens are assumed to have less disposable income, YA books are usually several dollars cheaper than "regular" books.  What does this mean for you as a savvy adult reader of teen-aimed books?  Better books, at a lower price!

The point of this missive is simply to request, rail, and (if necessary) beg for the dissolution of the "Young Adult Novel Ghetto".   As a bookseller, I have previously found myself in the slightly bizarre position of recommending a fantastic book to a customer and simultaneously trying to downplay the fact that it's a young adult book, for fear that the YA label might dissuade the potential reader.  No more!  I will proudly state that some of the best books are young adult books, and frequently the distinction is irrelevant, the decision of someone in a marketing department who may or may not have read the book.  ENDER'S GAME, an undisputed genre classic, was recently re-released under Tor's young adult imprint Starscape.  It would be a travesty if ENDER'S GAME were to lose adult readers because of its YA cover.  Besides, the attitude that makes a reader say "Oh, no, I won't read that -- it's for teens" is exactly the same type of snobbishness that relegated genre fiction to disreputability for so long.  Even now science fiction, fantasy and horror is struggling with the stigma of being something that readers "outgrow".  So we -- the intelligent, literate, and unrepentant champions of great genre fiction -- must defend good literature, regardless of the marketing designation under which it may lurk.

More YA authors to explore: Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones, Darren Shan, Pamela Dean, Lloyd Alexander, Garth Nix, Philip Pullman.

May 01, 2004

World Horror Convention Roundup

by Alan Beatts

Though they are terribly tiring, one of my favorite things about the genre book business are the yearly conventions that I get to attend.  At the least, each year I go to the three "world" conventions.  Each convention is different, from the casual and enthusiastic World Horror Convention in the spring to the huge and bustling World Science Fiction Convention in the summer to the World Fantasy Convention in fall with its consummate professionalism, but they all have one strong common quality -- it's a chance to visit and catch up with many, many old friends and a chance to meet new ones.  Oh, yes, and along the way we'll sell a few books, too.

This year's World Horror Convention in Phoenix, Arizona was no exception.  Though smaller than usual this year (perhaps due to being over Easter weekend), WHC was as pleasant as always and convention chairman Mike Wilmoth did a wonderful job.  Surprisingly, given the smaller attendance, sales in the dealer's room were very brisk and, at least for Borderlands, new sales records were set.

April 01, 2004

Musing on the Future of Retail

by Alan Beatts

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.

March 01, 2004

The Great Occult Detective

by Alan Beatts

One of my favorite sub-sections of the horror / fantasy genre has always been the "occult detective" -- the normal (or at least mostly normal) man or woman who find themselves constantly dealing and/or combating with the supernatural or paranormal. I think my first exposure to this sub-genre was Manley Wade Wellman's Silver John stories but I went on to enjoy Algernon Blackwood's John Silence and Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin stories. Borrowing liberally from both a world of folk tales and myths and from the great tradition of literary detectives, these stories enchanted and intrigued by turns and were one of the many factors that influenced my choice of profession and specialty. I think that the cardinal reason that these stories appealed to me so much was that "mainstream" mysteries don't have enough of the fantastic to really interest me but much of recent supernatural or horror fiction lacks the kind of structured series of clues leading to a final revelation that I relish.

February 01, 2004

Jack Cady, Life and Memories

by Jeremy Lassen

Jack Cady died on January 14th.  He was 71.  On that day, the Sf/fantasy/horror community lost one of its great writers.  As is usually the case with great writers, the genre paid him little attention during his lifetime.  Likewise, he had little time for the genre.  He was too busy living and writing.  He spent a career writing damn good stories and novels, without regard for marketing categories and genre boundaries.  While writing these stories and novels, he worked a variety of blue collar jobs. In his own words, from a 2001 bio-blurb:

Books to be Excited About

by Alan Beatts

We just placed our orders for all the books that will be coming out in the late spring and summer from Tor books and I thought a little preview of what I'm excited about might be of interest.

January 01, 2004

Happy New Year

by Alan Beatts

Happy New Year everyone! I don't know how 2004 seems to you so far -- but from where I'm sitting things are looking pretty good. In terms of sales, the holiday season was really very good this year, a record breaker in fact, and we had a great time helping customers find books and so forth. And now the busiest part of our year is over and we can catch our breath and gear up for 2004.