On Friday, 25 of the 1,314 financial sponsors of Borderlands Books in San Francisco were among the signatories to an open letter addressed to owner Alan Beatts, demanding that he relinquish ownership of the store in light of disturbing allegations recently made against him by an ex-girlfriend and his daughter. (Sponsors are those who invest $100 into the store on an annual basis, as per the store’s business model since 2015.)
Besides the 25 store sponsors, the letter, written by a group identifying itself as the San Francisco Sci-Fi & Fantasy Community, was signed by half a dozen individuals who identified themselves as either “supporters” or “customers.” By Monday morning, the list of signatories had grown to more than 60 names, 44 of them sponsors. A former employee also signed the letter.
Below the open letter, which was published on Medium.com, the group described itself as “a Bay Area–based group of science fiction and fantasy fans who believe that our community should be free of abusers, and safe and welcoming for everyone.” In it, the sponsors disclose that they are withdrawing their sponsorship of the store “and support for Borderlands” because they “believe the survivors [and] want to support them and any others Alan has harmed, whether or not they publicly come forward.”
Beatts's ex-girlfriend alleges that he attacked her with a knife four years ago; his 27-year-old daughter alleges that Beatts tried to rape her when she was 19 years old. In separate interviews with PW, the two women confirmed their allegations and requested not to be identified.
Not only does the letter demand that Beatts relinquish ownership of Borderlands, which he founded in 1997, it demands that he divest financially from it as well. The sponsors also want their names struck from any public lists of current sponsors. More than a dozen of the signers of this letter are among the store’s original 300 sponsors in 2015, who are spotlighted on a separate list of sponsors on the store’s website. The original sponsors also want the word “withdrawn” placed next to their names on all sponsorship lists.
“We understand that alternatives to [Beatts’s] ownership, such as a workers’ co-operative, are being discussed,” the letter states. “We demand that he cooperate with these discussions and any transition plan they may generate.” The letter concludes with its writers expressing their hope that they will be able to “resume support and sponsorship of Borderlands (or a successor bookstore) under different ownership and management.”
Two Borderlands booksellers, one of whom is female and the other nonbinary, have resigned their positions since Tuesday's publication of PW's original story regarding the allegations against Beatts, leaving store general manager Jude Feldman, who is also Beatts's significant other, along with two remaining booksellers, the only workers at the store still on staff.
The group responded to PW's request for more information by writing in an email: "The letter and the growing list of signatures is the only public comment we plan to make at the moment." Beatts declined comment on this petition in an email.
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that both Borderlands Books employees who resigned last week are female. While one is female, the other identifies as nonbinary. This error has been corrected.