Borderlands Books "will be closing very soon... no later than March 31st," according to a statement from the Valencia Street bookseller. For 18 years, the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and Horror Fiction-focused store has striven, per its mission statement, to "actively support both the professional and artistic community of which it is part and the neighborhood in which it is located."
Borderlands Cafe, situated next door and open to the bookstore, will remain in business until at least the end of the year according to the Chronicle. The news comes just over a week after word of Valhalla Books' coming closure, as reported by Mission Local.
Borderlands, which has been located between 19th and 20th Streets since 2000, conveyed two major complaints in its statement. Those were the coming minimum wage increase and, to be blunt, Amazon.
As for the first issue, "Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in principal and we believe that it's possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco," reads the statement, "Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage."
And, as for the problems posed by the online sales giant, "[M]ovement towards online shopping, mostly with Amazon, has taken a steady toll on bookstores throughout the world and Borderlands was no exception. After that and related to it, has been the shift towards ebooks and electronic reading devices." For specifics by way of example from the cafe business:
Many businesses can make adjustments to allow for increased wages. The cafe side of Borderlands, for example, should have no difficulty at all. Viability is simply a matter of increasing prices. And, since all the other cafes in the city will be under the same pressure, all the prices will float upwards. But books are a special case because the price is set by the publisher and printed on the book. Furthermore, for years part of the challenge for brick-and-mortar bookstores is that companies like Amazon.com have made it difficult to get people to pay retail prices. So it is inconceivable to adjust our prices upwards to cover increased wages.
Further, "the Great Recession of 2009 hit us very hard, especially since we had just opened a new aspect to the business in the form of our cafe."
Borderlands owners and employees have apparently known of the closure for a few weeks, and would like to leave on their own terms while they can maintain their "small profit" (the Business is not in debt). A public meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, February 12th will be held in in the cafe to discuss any ideas Borderlands may have overlooked.
Naturally, Borderlands would appreciate if customers came in to say hello and shop before they shut their doors. Per the statement: "The best thing that you can do for us is -- come in and buy books! We've got an awful lot of damn good ones and we'd love to see every single one go to someone who appreciates it before we close."