At the NAIBA Discovery Show in Washington D.C. last weekend, I had a chance to sit in on a very informative and entertaining session titled “Prepare for the Unexpected and Worst-Case Scenarios”. The session was led by Robin Bell from Chesapeake & Hudson and Susan McAnelly from Browseabout Books. These two brought insights from both outside and inside the store. It reminded me that the unexpected happens daily in stores and is not always catastrophic, as is the case with the unexpected events Binc deals with, but can be equally as disruptive to the business at hand. Their presentations and the audience participation that followed reminded everyone that anything can (and often does) happen in a bookstore.
As part of Binc’s commitment to strengthening the book industry, this year the Foundation offered Professional Scholarships to all eight of the regional IBAs to help encourage booksellers to attend the regional Discovery Shows and other educational events. Each IBA chose how the funds were to be distributed in the method that best served their membership. We at Binc, were very impressed with the thoughtful ways they chose to distribute the funds. The variety of scholarship criteria emphasizes the unique personalities of each IBA.
In this day and age of constant bombardment of “too good to be true” deals, audiences have become rightfully skeptical. How then can Binc reassure booksellers that our offer of financial assistance with no strings attached is the real deal? The answer is to meet face-to-face in a place where we can take time to explain our programs and answer any questions booksellers may have. Ideally, it would be a place that attracts a number of book people from across the industry. A location where those who have been helped can share their experiences with those who are just hearing about the Foundation. That perfect place turns out to be a regional IBA Trade Show (or more accurately, eight separate shows). This year the trade shows have been rebranded as Discovery Shows and this couldn’t fit Binc more appropriately. We are traveling back and forth across the country to help books industry professionals “discover” Binc.
Those outdated phones can help pay a bookseller’s emergency expenses when they are recycled through the Binc Foundation. This fall, at the seven regional IBA Trade Shows, the Binc Foundation will be holding a cell phone drive. Who doesn’t have at least one old phone collecting dust in some drawer? You can help your staff, friends and customers de-clutter and raise money for booksellers in need at the same time. The funds raised through the cell phone recycling project are turned into assistance for medical bills, help with housing and utilities and more.
The staff of Binc traveled to New York again this year to attend Book Expo America. As in past years, it was a busy few days with many people to meet and book industry events to attend. We kicked things off with an informal “Drinks with Binc” happy hour for board members, volunteers, supporters and staff to meet each other, chat and gear up for BEA!
The ABA Booksellers Lounge was a once again a quiet oasis at Book Expo America for booksellers to relax, have a snack, catch up with each other and go to author signings (Anjelica Huston!) away from the frenzy of the trade show floor. Binc’s table in the lounge busily welcomed many visitors from the book industry. Whether they were already aware of the Foundation’s programs, like committee members Susan Schlesinger and Michael Link who we were thrilled to meet face-to-face after having worked with them by phone for months, or new to our mission to help booksellers and their families, like Peggy and Carol from Turn of the Corkscrew, Binc had tons of assistance information to share. We announced the winners of the 2014 Scholarship Program, showed booksellers our video detailing how the Foundation assisted bookseller Clarey Rudd from Bank of Books in Malibu, California, and talked about the new Automatic Payroll Donation option we are starting after booksellers requested it in our industry survey.
While attending the 2012 Heartland Fall Forum I had the wonderful luck to sit next to Hilary Lowe (now Gustafson) and Mike Gustafson during the opening event. After reading their names tags, including Ann Arbor as the location of their store I could hardly sit still even though one of my favorite authors, Louise Erdrich, was being introduced. After the event I introduced myself and learned they were planning to open a bookshop in downtown Ann Arbor. It would be hard to underestimate the joy I felt about their news. Another bookstore opening in Ann Arbor, downtown, was going to be a dream come true.
Being in a room with a group of energetic booksellers was a great way to spend a sunny winter day in Cleveland. The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association held their spring meeting with Oren Teicher and Joy Dallanegra-Sanger of the American Booksellers Association leading a lively discussion about what makes indie bookstores special and how they can continue to thrive. It was impossible not to get swept into the tide of creative ideas coming from the 30+ booksellers assembled.
Going from the very cold mid-west to spring-like Seattle was just one of the benefits of attending Winter Institute 9. I also got to meet the five scholarship winners the Foundation sponsored. Getting to visit each of their stores would make for a wonderful summer road trip. It would take me to:
It was a whirlwind of a month; attending seven of the eight possible Independent Bookseller Association’s fall conferences. Pam, Penny and Kit were bouncing from one state to another meeting, greeting and educating booksellers about the assistance Binc can offer to their employees. We were thrilled with the response!