Advocating Across the Nation

One of the most important parts of providing a safety net for booksellers is making sure they know the safety net is there.

The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is fortunate to have great partners in the book industry like the American Booksellers Association and regional bookselling associations who help us spread our message to their members. Even with these great pillars of support helping Binc reach booksellers every day, there’s just no substitute for walking into a bookstore and telling a bookseller face-to-face that Binc has their back in an emergency.

Every member of the Binc team has a packet of information and Binc-related swag that we carry with us to stop into stores whenever we are travelling. We know direct contact with booksellers is key to promoting awareness of our programming since we can often trace each other’s journeys based on increased grant applications. As the one of the newest members of the crew, I recently had the opportunity to make my first series of bookstore stops while on a cross-country vacation.

I’ll admit, I was pretty confident going into my first store. Just a week before, our Program Director had visited 10 Texas stores in one day. I was positive that I could handle at least half that with no issues. I rehearsed my speech, prepared a handful of goodies including Binc bandages, magnets and an info sheet. I waited patiently until the bookseller finished helping a customer. Then things went off the rails.

“HellohaveyouheardaboutBincWe’rethhebookindustrycharitablefoundationand
we’reheretohelpyouinanemergencywecanprovidequickandconfidentialfinacialaidwithnostringsattached,” I was so excited to tell the bookseller about all of the different programs Binc has that I barely had time to pause for punctuation, let alone oxygen.

I was met with a duly-deserved eyebrow raise.

I held up my handful of Binc goodies, grinning and nodding and hoping the sight of magnets with pamphlets would assure the baffled bookseller that I was on the level. The bookseller nodded as if to say, “Yes, those are magnets, but why are you in my store waving them around?”

Tough Act to Follow: Program Director Kit Steinaway set a personal record by visiting 10 bookstores in one day during a recent trip to Texas. There were so many stores we couldn’t fit them all in this image.

Needless to say, I had to take a deep breath and restart my spiel. Once I slowed down and explained how Binc is dedicated to helping booksellers thrive by providing them with financial aid to overcome unexpected hardships, the bookseller was more than willing to take my proffered pamphlet and promised to explain to the other employees how a fancy new magnet found its way onto the break room fridge.

This isn’t just a blog post about how I embarrassed myself in front of a bookseller. It’s a call to action for anyone who wants to help Binc ensure that no bookseller in the country feels like they have to make it on their own.

Hero’s Journey: Not every Binc advocating visit has to be embarrassing! By the time I made it to Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles I was ready to explain our programming to booksellers Kimoy Lee (left) and Julia Fung (right).

We need you. Whether you are an author visiting dozens of stores across the country while promoting your new book or a bibliophile who wants to help protect their favorite local bookstores, let Binc know and we will send you everything you need to help us help booksellers.

Reach out to us at info@bincfoundation.org and we can help you get started as a Binc advocate. Or, if you’re reading this on the way to your favorite indie bookstore, you can check out this link to get a basic idea of what to say. Grab a selfie while you’re there and we’ll give you a shout out on social media so the world can see that you’re taking action to protect literacy in your community.

Advocate in Action: Desiree Cooper (left) took some time while promoting her new book  Know the Mother to talk with Jill Beauchamp (right) at Horizon Books in Traverse City, MI. All it takes is a few minutes and you can make a world of difference for a bookseller.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *