Ingram Content Group Talks with Pam About How Binc Helps Booksellers

Published with permission from Ingram Content Group. Many thanks to Ingram for their continued support of Binc and our mission to help booksellers across the nation.

Everyone impacts the world through books. Whether it’s the bookstore manager or the librarian who helps a kid select his or her first book, the book publishing industry is supported by people just like you.

Ingram Q & A

When life happens, it’s important to support our peers when times get tough. Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) provides financial assistance to booksellers in need. We recently spoke with Pamela French, Binc’s Executive Director, to find out more about their history and what’s important to them when it comes to helping booksellers in need.

Q: How did the Binc Foundation start?

A: The idea was planted when booksellers on one side of the country were impacted by a natural disaster, and their co-workers wanted to help them. Borders employees and executives set out to create a non-profit organization focused on helping each other.

Over the years, as the Foundation helped more and more booksellers it became a way for all Borders employees to get involved through events, fundraising, and volunteering. After Borders liquidated in 2012, the Foundation expanded to help all booksellers across the nation. We work with supportive partners like Ingram, the American Booksellers Association, and all the regional book associations to let booksellers know Binc is here to help.

This year, the Foundation celebrates 20 years of helping booksellers! More than 7,000 booksellers and their families have received just over $6M in support from Binc.

Q: What’s the importance of helping those in the book industry?

A: People get into the book industry out of a passion and love for reading, writing and sharing ideas. The Binc Foundation safety net strengthens the book industry by allowing book people to continue the work they love.

Q: What’s your history with books and their impact?

A: I’m fortunate to have always had books in my life. From a young age, I remember my parents reading to me and spending time every evening reading their own books. It was a natural path to take when I graduate from college. I answered an ad in a newspaper for a manager-in-training at Waldenbooks in Salt Lake City. I, then, spent the next 23 years on the retail side of the industry with Waldenbooks, Brentano’s, and then Borders.

Q: What has been your most memorable fundraiser?

A: One of the most memorable was a fall fundraising Zombie Apocalypse event that took place on Halloween weekend. The event was held at a brewing company complete with beer tasting and a silent auction. We even had a local dance troupe performed the dance from Thriller! They were dressed as zombie ballerinas and did an outstanding performance. It was very memorable and got a wide range of people involved

Q: What has been Binc’s proudest moment?

A: There are two that really stick out. The first was while I was visiting family in West Virginia. After three years of working to raise awareness about the Binc Foundation across the country, I walked into a bookstore to let them know about Binc. Before I even said a word the bookseller saw my card and the Binc logo and said, “Hey, I know about the Foundation.” It was one of those moments that you work towards and when it happens you know the hard work has paid off because booksellers know they can find help when they face a financial crisis.

Additionally, a dream come true moment happened this year when Ann Patchett enthusiastically agreed to be the inaugural Binc Ambassador. And she brought James Patterson on board as co-ambassador. It all came together this summer, and some days, it still feels like a dream. It’s an indication that the hard work of the volunteers, board members, store owners, and staff has paid off. More booksellers will learn about Binc not only when they need help, but if they want to give help too.

Q: How can someone get involved? What are the different committees someone can join?

A: Anyone interested in helping booksellers can get involved by joining a committee. The committees focus on programs, finance, marketing, and fundraising. We are always looking to expand our expertise within the book industry, and joining one of our committees is a great way to help. Also, if someone is interested in board service I’d love to talk with them. We are currently looking to add a lawyer and a store owner to our board.

And, of course, becoming a donor is another way to get involved and help ensure the Foundation is around for another 20 years.

Q: Last year, you gave 27 students a total of $109,000 in scholarships to fund their education. What’s the power of these scholarships for students?

A: The higher education scholarships give students the freedom to focus on their studies without worrying about where the money will come from to pay tuition or student loans. We have gotten many wonderful thank you notes from recipients saying how Binc’s scholarship has helped them achieve their career goals. Also, we’ve heard from family members about how a scholarship for their dependent helped them remain employed at their bookstore job while sending their child to college.

In one specific situation, a bookseller from Idaho was attending college to become a primary school teacher. Binc was able to assist with his final year of college, giving financial relief to his growing and financially stressed family. Binc’s scholarship helped produce one of the few male primary school teachers in the area, and this former bookseller, is now molding readers of the future and instilling a love of reading and books in children.

Q: What are Binc’s goals for the next five years? How will the organization grow to support our book community?

A: We spent that past four years not only spreading the word that the Foundation is here to help, but also working to determine if there was a longer term need for Binc. Through the number of grant requests, survey feedback, and overall interest we have determined that yes, there is a need for the Foundation’s services.

Our strategic framework for the next five years includes:

  • Awareness of and pride in the role Binc plays in helping to create a healthy and diverse bookstore community. Every bookstore and employee across the country knows about Binc and takes personal pride in and ownership of Binc as “my Foundation.”
  • Financially sustained by the industry; including publishers, distributors, wholesalers, authors, bookstores, and the public.
  • Strong and meaningful partnerships with the industry leaders.
  • Build on our program support to continue to meet the needs of the industry.

Want to get involved with Binc like we have? Find out how you can help support booksellers, become a Binc Advocate or strengthen a bookseller’s safety net with a donation.

What We All Can Do to Help Binc Help Booksellers

Help Binc help booksellers

Individuals and stores can easily contribute directly to Binc, which has a 20 for 20 Challenge, encouraging donors to give at least $20 and make it a monthly, automatic deduction.

Helping Binc Help Booksellers

Several companies have helped Binc raise funds in various ways. At Books Inc., which has 11 stores in the San Francisco Bay area, employees can contribute to Binc through payroll deductions, which are matched by Books Inc. up to $100 per employee per year. Books Inc. director of operations Andy Perham noted that the deduction program was “super easy to set up through our payroll processor.”

Ken White originally brought Binc to the attention of Books Inc. managers. Perham remembered, “We were all immediately impressed by Binc’s mission and have been even more impressed in the subsequent years as we’ve seen what Binc is able to do both in providing financial assistance to booksellers experiencing a financial crisis and in the scholarships they are able to provide.”

Similarly, Sourcebooks partnered with Binc for its annual holiday drive: each time a Sourcebooks employee made a donation to Binc, the company matched that donation, and then one of Binc’s donation partners also matched the contribution. Sourcebooks national sales manager Heidi Weiland commented: “We were thrilled to participate, and based on the response we received in 2015, we will absolutely partner with Binc again in 2016. We can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together!”

Weiland noted that in working regularly with independent bookstores, “I have found it to be a universal truth that booksellers are constantly assisting their customers, community members, friends and family with issues outside the realm of books and reading, making a huge impact in their community. These same booksellers are often reluctant to ask for help when they are the ones in need of assistance. This is why Binc is so crucial. Whether they find out about a bookseller’s need through industry professionals, bookstore patrons or community leaders, Binc is there and ready to help.”

A Unique Way to Fund-raise For Binc

Chuck Robinson, co-owner of Village Books, Bellingham and Lynden, Wash., raised money in an unusual way: in a bike ride last year from Washington to Illinois for his 50th high school reunion, he decided to raise money for three communities important to him. One was his home community of Bellingham, the second the community in Illinois where he grew up, and the third was “my community of booksellers all across the country,” he said. “I took pledges for foundations that represent each of these communities, including Binc. By the beginning of November, Binc had collected more than $6,700 from those pledges.

He added: “Many of those dollars came from others in the bookselling and publishing communities, but many came from folks in Bellingham and elsewhere who value books, bookstores, and the people who work in them. I would urge everyone who shares those values to contribute in some way to Binc. I guarantee that you, too, will be happier.”

This post is a reprint of Binc’s dedicated Shelf Awareness Issue from March 30, 2016. To learn more about the Binc Foundation and how we help booksellers you can read the full article, here.

We Need Your Help in Shaping the Future of the Foundation

Survey graphic - Facebook & Instagram, sidebar, blog

In 2014, Binc conducted a bookseller survey of the book industry and found that bookstore employees needed more and different services that we had previously offered. In response to that survey, we added a Matching Grants program as well as Homelessness Prevention and Utility Shut-off Prevention programs. Financial grants from those programs have helped many booksellers to stabilize their households and move forward knowing there is a safety net in place for them. So far in 2016, seven booksellers have benefitted from Matching Grants.

A Second Bookseller Survey

 
With the growth and change of both the bookselling industry and the Foundation, it is again time to hear from booksellers about what they want and need in an organization dedicated to helping them in times of financial hardship. Therefore, we are conducting a second industry survey intended at getting a better understanding of the current needs and experiences of the nation’s booksellers.

The survey will be accessible from September 6 to October 23 and will take about 5-7 minutes to complete.  Participants will be eligible to win one of four (4) $50 American Express Gift Cards as a thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.

Please Help Spread the Word

 
Please take a moment to complete the survey to tell us how we can better support bookstore employees and their families in times of financial hardship.  Also, please forward the survey to other book industry professionals you know so that they can respond as well. Everyone in the book industry is welcome to provide their feedback and take the survey.

Take the survey today at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Binc

Thank you for your input. The results of the survey will be released in January 2017.

Reps to the Rescue

Meg and Kate

Meg Sherman and Kate McCune – Binc’s SUPER-REPS!

Two sales reps have been a major help in spreading the word about Binc to bookseller accounts and are now encouraging other reps to do so, too.

Kate McCune

McCune

HarperCollins field rep Kate McCune worked in bookselling before joining the publisher 14 years ago. “I spent so many years being a bookseller and working with booksellers that I know a lot of people don’t have a cushion,” she said.

McCune, who is also a Binc board member, initially heard about Binc at trade shows. “My kinship to booksellers kind of made me predisposed to work with Binc,” explained McCune. She also felt that it was critical to support independent booksellers. “This channel is hugely important,” she said. “I think it’s crucial that we’re there to just help people have the lives they want to have and not have it go off the rails. It feels like a no-brainer to help out on that front.”

In 2014, McCune and Kit Steinaway put together small, one-sheet kits for sales reps to take on calls. The idea, McCune explained, is for a sales rep to talk about Binc for just 30 seconds to a minute and leave behind some literature. McCune has found that a low-tech, face-to-face method, which she called the “pony express way,” seems to be best for spreading information about Binc among both booksellers and sales reps.

Meg Sherman

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Meg Sherman (along with many other bookfolk), in a Binc video of support.

Likewise, Meg Sherman, a sales rep at Norton, who was an independent bookseller for 13 years, is a major advocate for Binc. “Strong booksellers need stronger bookstores need a stronger book industry,” she said.

“When booksellers aren’t able to come to work because of things going on in their lives, when they’re worried about how to pay their bills, they might leave [the industry] to take another job that they’d rather not take,” she continued. “Anything we can do to help with that and keep those stores strong means a stronger industry and stronger communities.”

After a series of historic floods in Colorado in 2013, she took notice of Binc’s work. “They had worked with several booksellers at Boulder Book Store to help them in midst of the floods,” recalled Sherman. “It was so immediate that they got on my radar.”

Ever since, Sherman has been advocating for Binc. Sherman’s territory as a sales rep covers seven Western states, and while giving rep talks around the region she takes time to mention Binc and the sorts of things they do for booksellers. And if she hears about a struggling staff member while speaking with store owners, Sherman doesn’t hesitate to mention Binc. Sherman has also begun talking to other sales reps about advocating for Binc.

Sherman said has consistently been struck by Binc’s multi-faceted efforts, which include providing grants to offset bills, advocating on behalf of booksellers while dealing with hospitals, insurance companies and similar institutions, and providing scholarships to booksellers to attend regional and national trade shows. “It really impresses me.”

We want to thank Kate and Meg for their support of the Foundation and for all they have done to get the word our about our mission and programs. They are truly our Binc SUPER-REPS!

This post is a reprint of Binc’s dedicated Shelf Awareness Issue from March 30, 2016. To learn more about the Binc Foundation and how we help booksellers you can read the full article, here.

Binc: Past Accomplishments, Future Goals

BINCLogo-20th-01The accomplishments of the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation are striking: since its creation in 1996, Binc has given more than $5.9 million in scholarships and financial assistance grants to more than 6,900 bookstore employees and their dependents. But this is only the start: the Foundation continues to grow, spreading the word about its generous and beneficial work and expanding fundraising to ensure a sustainable future. As it looks ahead, it’s also considering ways to help more people in the book industry.

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Once Upon a Time

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The year was 1996, when a group of Borders booksellers had a dream of helping their colleagues in need. Their idea was simple, collect small donations from a large number of booksellers and make those funds available to a coworker facing a personal financial hardship. The donors wouldn’t miss the $5 or $10 a month that they donated, but added together, these funds could pool together to change someone’s life in a very meaningful way.

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3 quick ways to help indie bookseller Chuck Robinson & Book Industry Charitable Foundation

Did you see the Shelf Awareness story about bookseller Chuck Robinson’s upcoming 2400-mile bike ride, which is a fundraiser for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation?

Chuck co-owns Village Books in Bellingham, WA with his wife Dee Robinson, which they have run for 35 years. He’s also a sustaining contributor to the Binc Foundation, and is supporting Binc on his ride because “it has been instrumental in helping booksellers who have suffered hardships or emergencies, and in providing scholarships for higher education. It’s a great foundation – and a way for booksellers and friends to help booksellers.” Since 1996, Binc has provided more than $5.2 million to more than 6,900 families. The Foundation was imagined and built by booksellers and proudly continues to be their safety net.

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Visiting Bookstores? Help Binc Spread the Word

help spread the word

Are you a publisher’s sales rep, sidelines provider, author, or a book lover who regularly visits bookstores?

If you are, you can help Binc spread the word to booksellers about the assistance available from the Foundation. In the past three years, our staff, board & committee members, and supporters have personally visited more than100 bookstores. We can use your help reaching even more bookstores across the country! We know for a fact that a personal visit to a bookstore improves the odds that their employees will take advantage of our services. We realize that the help we provide can seem like it is too-good-to-be-true, that is where corroboration by a real person comes in to play. The value of having our message reinforced by publishers, industry representatives, authors and supporters is priceless.

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