Pigs, Ice Cream and Sea Turtles, Oh My!

2016 Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show is a huge success!

Side Trip to Bluffton, SC Home of the Bluffton Book Festival

Pam, Kathy and Penny traveled to beautiful Savannah, GA for the recent SIBA trade show. On Thursday, Kathy and Pam drove to Bluffton, SC to meet with Binc board member Rockelle Henderson about the upcoming Bluffton Book Festival to be held on November 18 &19. Rockelle is the founder of the event, whose mission is to raise money for two non-profit organizations that support literacy, education, reading, authors, bookselling and the publishing community as a whole and to bring awareness to local and national literary talent in the process. Binc is thrilled to be one of the beneficiaries of the festival. While in Bluffton, Rockelle and Binc stopped in at The Storybook Shoppe which will be holding events during the Festival. Follett will be the official bookseller. Thanks to Rockelle, and all everyone involved, for putting the festival together.

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Bank On Booksellers Piggy Bank Auction

Thursday also marked the kick-off of The Bank on Booksellers piggy bank auction, created by Parnassus Books to support their bookseller, Stephanie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in April of 2016. They reached out to a few of their friends with this idea for Step, and got back over 100 piggy banks decorated by authors, artists and celebrities! The auction is going so well that they decided to donate part of the money raised to Binc to help all booksellers across the country. If you are interested in bidding on a pig, check out the Bidding Owl auction site.

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That evening, the whole SiBA group ventured out to Tybee Island via trolley for a party at author Mary Kay Andrews island home, Ebbtide. There was a ton of delicious food to eat from her soon to be released Beach Party Cookbook, and everyone enjoyed it in her simply delightful island home. Many thanks to Mary Kay and her team for their southern hospitality.

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Friday Bookseller Education Sessions

Early Friday morning, booksellers gathered for breakfast and the SIBA Annual Meeting before heading into education sessions for the majority of the day. Education sessions ranged from southern women sharing what they’d learned during their time in the book business to an update from the ABA on The New Localism Data first shared at Winter Institute 11. After the education sessions, everyone greeted new writers who have books coming out in the first half of 2017 during the 180 Days Party, a SIBA tradition. The SIBA Supper showcased four excellent authors over dinner, and the Shoe Burning Show offered Spoken Word artists and Southern Soul Music to a tired but happy bookselling crowd.

The Show Gets Underway With Ice Cream

Saturday saw the opening of the trade show floor – split into 2 sections – where booksellers flocked to the Binc table after 3:00pm for ice cream treats. SIBA members stepped up back in May and took the 20 for 20 fundraising challenge and won the award for the most participants from any Indie bookselling association during Binc’s spring fundraiser. As a thank you for such huge support, Binc treated the crowd to ice cream in the afternoon.

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Celebration Sunday

This year’s theme for SIBA was “Savannah by the Sea” and in honor of that theme Binc hosted a fundraiser on the show floor on Sunday morning where participants purchased a blinking Sea Turtle pin for $20, in honor of Binc’s 20th anniversary. At the end of the show everyone played the game Heads or Tails, either picking “heads” or “tails”, then Kathy flipped a coin and if their choice was correct, a they could move to the next round.

Congratulations to Ruth Breiphol from The Book Seller in Birmingham, AL for correctly picking heads or tails and winning the grand prize of $500! Thank you to everyone who purchased a Sea Turtle pin and to everyone who sold them. A special thank you to our sponsor for the event, University of North Carolina Press who donated funds to pay for the fundraiser, ensuring that all the money raised would go directly to helping Binc support booksellers. We are happy to report that Binc raised just shy of $2,000 from the fundraiser.

Once again, Wanda Jewell and her team did an excellent job organizing and running the show and all of the events. It was a great kick-off to the season. We are excited to see y’all again next year in New Orleans!

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.

Ken White Tells Why Binc’s Help is Essential to Booksellers

Ken White

Ken White, Binc board member and founder of Query Books

We know the profit margin on books is slim. Our bookish world is teeming with smart, talented, independent people who could be making twice as much money somewhere else. But we don’t, because there’s something soul-less about selling stuff you don’t care about. We are purveyors of culture, and that’s as glamorous as being a movie star…minus, of course, the ball gowns and limousines.

So what happens when that glamorous but limousine-less bookseller runs into unexpected financial crisis? From, say, catastrophic hospital bills after a necessary procedure, or escaping an abusive domestic situation? If a bookseller has been living paycheck-to-paycheck, as many of us have done, there might not be much savings in the bank to pay that off. They may be forced into a situation where they have no resources to pay the bills and get back on their feet. That’s where Binc can lend a hand.

Binc Helps a Fellow Bookseller

 
I’ll give an example from one of my early experiences working with Binc. A bookseller (whose identity is known only by two people on staff) missed a few days of work due to a heart attack. Yes, a heart attack. And that bookseller, God bless ‘em, was already back at work a few days later. Between the medical bills and lost income, they were having trouble paying other important bills. Binc was able to step in, get their bills paid, and protect them from further hardship caused by the emergency. I’m proud of this bookseller who soldiered on, and I’m proud of Binc for helping a bookseller pay their bills during a rough spell.

In fact, Binc gave away nearly $55,000 in financial assistance grants in 2015. Binc also gave away over $220,000 in scholarship money for professional development and higher education, some of that for college tuition, and also a number of scholarships to book industry trade events.

No matter our background, there may come a day for any of us when we have to struggle to stay in the business we love. Sometimes a little help is all it takes to sustain a life in books. That’s why I love Binc; it’s the safety net for booksellers.

Many thanks to Binc board member, Diversity Task Force champion, and Query Books founder, Ken White, for sharing why he feels Binc is essential to the well-being of booksellers across the country.

Reps to the Rescue

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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’s Diversity Task Force Initiative

Diversity Task Force

In our previous blog post, part of Binc’s dedicated issue in Shelf Awareness, our new Diversity Task Force Initiative was introduced. Thanks to the hard work of our Program Committee members, including Query Books founder Ken White, Binc is working to actively support diversity in the book industry. Here is a brief description from Ken on the direction and progress that the committee has made so far.

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Binc’s Scholarship Help and New Programs

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At the Tattered Cover during WI11 in Denver: Scholarship winner Chris Hsiang from Compass Books with Pam French.

Binc has helped a variety of booksellers and their families help pay for higher education and provided key scholarship programs to booksellers attend industry events. Andrea Jones, who recently became co-owner of Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, Vt., was able to attend Winter Institute 11 in Denver because of “the generous scholarship from Binc,” she said. “During the week in Denver, I learned from other booksellers and industry professionals, but also from the wonderful representatives from Binc. It was really nice to hear that in this very exciting and rewarding world of bookselling, there are people dedicated to working to help others so they can continue to share great books and knowledge, support writers and publishers, support communities in the free exchange of ideas.”

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Hannah Lee Reports from Children’s Institute 4

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee from Main Point Books is a member of Binc’s Program Committee and serves as a member of the Diversity Task Force. The goal of the Diversity Task Force is to draw more people of diverse backgrounds into bookselling and to help those already in the industry to stay and excel.

Hannah attended Children’s Institute 4 in Orlando and presented on a panel on children’s nonfiction that was well attended. Here is Hannah’s report from the conference.

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Natural Disasters, Medical Problems: Binc’s Help

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Annie Philbrick owner of Bank Square Books with Binc Executive Director, Pam French.

Some of Binc’s most invaluable help has come after bookstores have suffered natural disasters. A striking case involved Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., when, in October 2013, Tropical Storm Sandy caused a tidal surge that overwhelmed the store’s sandbagged walls. “Tuesday morning we arrived to a very wet store and no lights, computers or anything but dampness and the smell of a beach at low tide,” recalled owner Annie Philbrick. “Over the next two days, with the undying support of the local community, we packed up and moved the entire children’s section to an empty apartment upstairs, and the remaining store into two Mayflower moving trucks to be held at a storage facility about five miles away until we were able to open up again as a bookstore.”

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Binc Announces the 2016 Binc Foundation Scholars

Learning never exhausts the mind

Binc is thrilled to announce its 2016 Higher Education Scholarship winners! This year’s program awarded 27 scholarships, totaling $109,000, to eligible current bookstore employees/owners and their dependents as well as former Borders Group employees and their dependents. There were two (2) $10,000 scholarships, twenty-four (24) $3,500 scholarships, and one (1) $5,000 Karl Pohrt Memorial Scholarship – granted to an independent bookstore employee candidate who has overcome learning adversity or is a non-traditional student. The scholarships can be used for tuition, fees, books, supplies and room and board. Funds may also be used over consecutive years if the student is not able to use the entire award for the 2015-2016 academic year.

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