Every town has one. It's the local scifi or comic book store that's much more than a place to buy books. It's a meeting spot, a salon, and a cruising joint for people who want to hang out and talk scifi with other bookish types. The store proprietors should be legendary — Crabby Heinlein Guy is really mean and elitist, but Goth Girl is super nice and will always recommend good books even if you don't know Star Wars from The Star Fraction
. Every week, we're going to feature one beloved local scifi or comic book store here on io9. We begin the love this week with a natty bookstore in San Francisco called Borderlands, which is full of unusual books and home to one hairless cat named Ripley.
Borderlands is a spacious store in an old Victorian, packed with handmade wooden bookshelves on wheels that can be moved out of the way during readings. As you enter, you move between shelves of shiny new books, a few DVDs, and staff picks of the best recent scifi, fantasy and horror. Borderlands prides itself on stocking lots of small press books, so you're likely to find stuff here you'd never find anywhere else. In the back, there are high bookshelves full to the brim with used paperbacks, and you can read quietly on a sofa under a window that looks out on a playground. The bookstore cat looks scary and hairless, but is in fact quite friendly and will purr at the slightest provocation.
Owner Alan Beatts calls his bookstore style "Minimalist Victorian." He and the rest of the staff are geek-friendly as well as normal-friendly, which is a rare combination. One of them, Jeremy, runs a small press called Night Shade Books. And of course Borderlands has tons of readings where you can meet other SF readers and touring authors (I met Jacqueline Carey there!). Rumor has it that Alan has taken over the empty storefront next door and is slowly turning it into a coffee shop. If that happens, you will see Charlie Jane and I in there every day, hiding behind our laptops and blogging in a caffeinated frenzy.
If you want to recommend your local beloved scifi bookstore or comic book store, send a good description and photo to email@example.com with the subject line "beloved local."
Exterior shot by False Positives. Interior and Ripley courtesy of Borderlands.