Borderlands Books patrons call for owner to step down over sexual assault allegations

Borderlands Books patrons call for owner to step down over sexual assault allegations
Photo: Borderlands Books
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on July 20, 2020.

An open letter from more than three dozen financial sponsors of Borderlands Books is calling for owner Alan Beatts to resign and divest from the business.

Beatts, who's run the science fiction and fantasy bookstore since 1997, has been accused of attempted rape by his daughter, and of threatening a former partner with assault at knifepoint.

The accusations have rocked the publishing industry and the community that's formed around the bookstore, which had been set to close its 19-year home on Valencia Street and move to the Upper Haight this year.

In 2017, Beatts raised nearly $2 million in personal loans and grants from supporters to purchase the Haight location, formerly home to Recycled Records. With his lease on Valencia expiring this year, the new store was meant to provide a permanent, stable home for Borderlands. 

Now, 38 of Borderlands' financial sponsors are calling for Beatts to step aside, making room for them to support a new operator for Borderlands. 

"We cannot support Borderlands while Alan might use his position as owner to do and conceal harm," the supporters write in their letter. "We demand that he relinquish ownership of the store, and divest financially from it."

Beatts, as well as two of the letter's signatories, declined to comment for this story.

On Twitter, a Borderlands patron posted an alleged statement from Beatts shared to a private Discord server, in which he denies the allegations. 

"Getting Borderlands to the point that I am unnecessary has been a goal for several years," Beatts writes. "But it's a long process and one that has barely begun. Right now, I cannot see any way that Borderlands can possibly operate without me ... Regardless of any other considerations, that is not an option."

In addition to calling for Beatts' resignation, the letter's signatories are asking for their names to be removed as official sponsors on the store's website and on its interior displays. 

"We hope that we can resume support and sponsorship of Borderlands (or a successor bookstore) under different ownership and management," they conclude, suggesting a worker cooperative as one potential alternative.

Camden Avery contributed reporting to this story.