You Can Help Save One Of The Great Science Fiction Bookstores

Illustration for article titled You Can Help Save One Of The Great Science Fiction Bookstores

We were incredibly upset when we heard that Borderlands Books was going to close, due to low bookstore margins combined with a rise in the local minimum wage. This would not only make San Francisco a way less cool place to live, but do great damage to the science fiction book world. So thank goodness there's a hope for a reprieve.


After a long and intense "town hall" meeting last week, Borderlands owner Alan Beatts has agreed to let people buy sponsorships at the store — for $100 a year, you get a number of as-yet-undetermined benefits, and you get to help keep a San Francisco institution going. According to this blog post, the current ideas for benefits include:

  • Reserved seating at author events
  • The ability to rent the cafe and / or bookstore outside of normal operating hours for private events at our cost (which is roughly $25 to $100 per hour)
  • Invitations to a quarterly gathering at the cafe where you can socialize with other sponsors, members of Borderlands' staff and occasional special guests
  • Access to preview sales of rare and collectable books whenever we make a large acquisition
  • The opportunity to purchase occasional items produced by us for sponsors and not offered to the general public (such as limited Ripley prints, chapbooks, and so forth)
  • A selection of unique apparel and accessories showing your status as a sponsor and not available to the general public
  • Invitations to sponsor-only events, like small gatherings with authors, exclusive writing workshops, and more

I'm especially excited about the unique apparel, and also the writing workshops, which I would be excited to attend. Details are available at the Borderlands site, but basically you have to pay in person or via phone — they're not doing this via their website, unfortunately. If you can spare $100, it's well worth doing this to preserve a place to buy and celebrate science fiction and fantasy books. I still wear my Pandemonium Books T-shirt, from when that store nearly closed, with pride.


Patrick Farley

Not to be a curmudgeon, but Gaia Bookstore in North Berkeley tried this several years ago and it only extended their lifespan by an extra couple of months. And if a community as wealthy and New-Agey as North Berkeley couldn't keep its flagship bookstore afloat, I have to wonder if the sci-fi community of the SF Bay Area can sustain a tiny brick-and-mortar retail outlet in a spot of town where rents are skyrocketing with no end in sight. If Borderlands can pull it off, bully for them, but I suspect this donor arrangement will be no substitute for steady sales revenue.