February 09, 2016


by Alan Beatts

Last month I announced that we had reached our goal of 300 sponsors and would remain open for at least another year.  I also explained that, because the sponsorship program had been so successful, I have raised our sights beyond merely remaining open until our lease ran out in five years.  Our sponsors have been so constant and enthusiastic that I'm not really concerned about the near-term viability of that model to support us in the face of mandatory wage increases.  Of course, something could change but overall our situation seems stable for the next few years.

With that concern addressed, I've been looking forward at the next major concern -- what we're going to do when our lease expires in 2021.  Given the current rental market in San Francisco and the historical trends (even during hard times economically), we will not be able to find a space that we can afford and that will house the store in 2021.  So, we are either going to need to move out of San Francisco, or we need to come up with another plan. Moving is unattractive, but I'll keep that as a backup.  My preferred plan is to buy a building to house the store (and, perhaps, similar businesses -- more on that next month).

If we're going to do that, we need to raise a bunch of money for the down payment.  I've done the math, and I'm sure that we can cover the mortgage, maintenance, and taxes with what we currently pay in rent.  But we've got to have that down payment.  I have many ideas about how to raise that money and I'll pursue them all, but there is one thing happening already that's helping a lot -- the sponsorships.  Right now we have more than 500 sponsors.  Last year we had 844.  If we can continue getting many more sponsors than we need to cover the higher payroll, we can make it most of the way to our goal.  And so, despite our success in reaching the 300 sponsors we needed to say open, if you've been considering becoming a sponsor, please do.  To perhaps help you with your decision, here are a few reasons to become a sponsor.

1)  You believe that the continued existence of physical bookstores is important.
The most common cause of bookstore closures is rent increases.  In addition, bookselling has always been an only-marginally-profitable business.  More and more people are choosing to live in urban areas (check out my article about that http://borderlands-books.blogspot.com/2015/08/urban-conservation.html ) and that is increasing rents in all cities in the US.  Bookstores, especially specialty bookstores, need a minimum population density to be viable (especially in these days of Amazon and ebooks, people are unlikely to drive 50 miles to shop) so it is harder for them to survive outside cities.  That shifting population trend combined with the limitations inherent in bookselling means that it is going to get harder and harder for bookstores to locate in cities and, by extension, it is going to make it harder for them to survive.

Upcoming Events

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, HAUNTING INVESTIGATION (Smoke and Shadow Books, Hardcover, $27.99) - Saturday, February 13th at 3:00 pm

Meet Arwen Curry, filmmaker - "Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin" - Sunday, February 14th at 3:00 pm

A.M. Dellamonica, DAUGHTER OF NO NATION (Tor Books, Hardcover, $26.99), and Randy Henderson, BIGFOOTLOOSE AND FINN FANCY FREE (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99) - Saturday, February 20th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Charlie Jane Anders and Lisa Goldstein, Sunday, February 21st at 5:30 pm

V.E. Schwab, A GATHERING OF SHADOWS (Tor Books, Hardcover, $25.99), with special guest Stephanie Kuehn - Saturday, February 27th at 3:00 pm

SF in SF with authors Daryl Gregory and Hannu Rajaniemi - Sunday, March 6th at 5:30 pm

Mishell Baker, BORDERLINE (THE ARCADIA PROJECT) (Saga Press, Trade Paperback, $15.99), and Seanan McGuire, CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY (DAW, Mass Market Paperback, $7.99) on Saturday, March 12th at 5:00 pm

MWA Northern California Meet and Greet - Sunday, March 13th at 3:00 pm

January Bestsellers

1. ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders
3. BANDS OF MOURNING by Brandon Sanderson
4. THIS CENSUS TAKER by China Mieville
5. THE BOOK OF THE PHOENIX by Nnedi Okorafor
6. WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor
7. MEDUSA'S WEB by Tim Powers
8. LAGOON by Nnedi Okorafor
10. MANNERS AND MUTINY by Gail Carriger

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. STEAL THE SKY by Megan E. O'Keefe
2. INFLUX by Daniel Suarez
3. MIDNIGHT TAXI TANGO by Daniel Jose Older
4. WINTERWOOD by Jacey Bedford
5. NEVERMORE by Rob Thurman
6. THE LONG UTOPIA by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett
7. V'DAN: FIRST SALIK WAR by Jean Johnson
8. DEAD HEAT by Patricia Briggs
9. ON THE STEEL BREEZE by Alastair Reynolds
10. DRAKE by Peter McLean

Trade Paperbacks
2. ANCILLARY MERCY by Ann Leckie
3. THE ENTROPY OF BONES by Ayize Jama-Everett
5. WEIGHING SHADOWS by Lisa Goldstein

February News

* Overheard in the store:
"They're not weapons, they're tools. They're just sort of . . . weapon-y."

* The San Mateo County Fair is having a number of writing contests, several of them in our genres.  The deadline for submissions is April 1st, 2016 and more details can be found here, at the Fair's website contest page: http://sanmateocountyfair.com/pdf/2016/exhibits/literary_arts_16.pdf

* We've finally heard that the amazing Netflix series Jessica Jones has been picked up for a second season.  Unfortunately, it may be quite a while until we actually get it. http://www.cinemablend.com/television/Why-Jessica-Jones-Season-2-May-Happen-Any-Time-Soon-101137.html

* We are very sorry to announce that respected and much-beloved editor David Hartwell has passed away after a fall.  http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/01/david-g-hartwell-1941-2016/

* Sadly, horror author A.R. Morlan apparently took her own life last month: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2016/01/a-r-morlan-1958-2016/

* io9.com posts a hilarious guide to defeating the Justice League, based on the cartoon. http://io9.gizmodo.com/a-foolproof-guide-to-beating-the-justice-league-1757183745

* Further from i09.com, author Charlie Jane Anders gives us a triptych of great articles!
First, the disappointing news about "Pride and Prejudice & Zombies" in her lackluster review -- and we had such high hopes!  http://io9.gizmodo.com/when-you-netflix-pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies-you-l-1757269942