Bed bugs. Just the thought is enough to make anyone squirm.

Recently, a bookseller spent months trying to rid their apartment of bedbugs, only to have them return – over and over again. Their whole building was infested. All appeals to the landlord were dismissed. The bookseller’s only recourse was to move out, but they lacked the funds to do so. With their security deposit tied up as they tried to break their lease, and having to continue to pay rent and live in the infested apartment, they didn’t see a way out.

But their bookstore had a Binc poster prominently displayed and the bookseller made the call for help. Because of supporters like you, Binc was able to pay the move-in expenses for a new apartment, providing this bookseller with a safe and healthy home.

Bed bugs know no social or economic bounds and they can set up residence in any home. The sources are numerous – they can be picked up while traveling, brought in aboard furniture, even travel from a neighboring apartment. However they arrive, and wherever they land, the process of ridding your home of them can be grueling.

Residents can take some steps to control an infestation.

  • Find where they are hiding, not just in mattresses and overstuffed furniture. Look along baseboards, hard furnishings, and any dark hidden area.
  • Vacuum carefully and remove the vacuum bag and contents immediately.
  • Steam clean furniture and other surfaces.
  • Put mattress and box springs into a bed bug proof cover.
  • Wash all cloth items in hot water or put in the drier for at least 20 minutes.
  • Notify your landlord immediately.

Most landlords, not wanting bed bugs to spread, will help eradicate the pests. They should work with you to help correct the problem and prevent the spread. They should arrange for professional pest control if necessary. With quick action, the infestation can be minimized.

Nationally the incidents of bed bug infestations are rising (no one seems to know exactly why) and as a result, Binc has received an increased number of requests for assistance from booksellers battling them. The help Binc has provided ranged from helping with eradication costs to assistance for a bookseller to move out of a chronically infested building.

More information on how to prevent bed bug encounters and more about the treatment can be found through the EPA, Texas A&M University, and National Apartment Association.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself living with bed bugs, give Binc a call.

Burying a Loved One

Of all the unexpected expenses a bookseller faces, funerals can be one of the toughest to find help paying for. There is little public assistance available to help loved ones afford the financial burden of a funeral. Whether a bookseller is dealing with the loss of a child, spouse, parent, or sibling – they often don’t have enough savings to meet the expenses of a funeral. Because of the emotional stress, funeral expense requests are some of the most emotional requests for assistance that we receive at Binc.

Today, the average North American traditional funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000. This price range includes services, burial in a cemetery, and installation of a headstone. While this is the average, funeral costs can vary widely depending on location. Even a simple cremation can cost $800 – $1,000, which is still an amount beyond the means of many booksellers.

Resources such as the FTC Funeral Rule can help keep costs down by making it possible for you to choose only those services you want, whether you are making arrangements when a death occurs or in advance. The Rule allows you to compare prices among funeral homes and makes it possible for you to select the arrangements you want at the facility you use.

There is a very limited amount of government assistance available, with one-time payments of $255 from Social Security, or $300 – $600 from the Veterans Administration. Which is obviously not enough to cover all of the expenses.

Paying funeral expenses from an estate (should one exist) presents its own set of obstacles. Funeral expenses can be paid with assets from an estate, but because of the legal process in most states, the funds will not be available immediately when needed. Most funeral homes require payment at the time that funeral services are provided, this often means that someone will need to cover the expenses up front and then be reimbursed from the estate. Again, this creates a problem for a bookseller living on a tight budget.

A U.S. News & World Report article stated that affording funeral expenses is a serious problem that seems to have grown worse over the years and one that spiked during the recession. So what does one do if there is no money for a funeral? If you lack the funding for a funeral, here’s what some experts say your options are.

  • CrowdFunding – GoFundMe, one of the largest fund-raising sites, says that 13% of its campaigns created in 2017 were described as memorials, which include funerals and are one of the company’s fastest-growing categories.
  • Local churches sometimes have funds set aside to help with funerals.
  • Some states have limited assistance available. Assistance for burial or cremation and the criteria for eligibility vary widely from state to state.
  • If you are a bookseller, and you are financially responsible for the funeral expenses of a family member, you can apply to the Binc Foundation for assistance.
    • Binc may be able to help with an assistance grant to cover basic burial expenses.
    • Binc can offer a Matching Grant of up to $2,000 to match funds collected through a GoFundMe or similar campaign used to raise funds for funeral expenses.

The loss of a loved one is traumatic enough, at Binc we want to help keep debt from making the situation even worse.

Extending Binc Assistance with Resources

At Binc we are always pleased to be able to pay overdue bills for booksellers. We know from experience that these payments give great relief to the household. Over the past twenty-two years of paying bills for booksellers, we have come to realize that this is only part of the solution, however. More often than not, additional help is needed. This help can take the form of partnering with another organization to add additional financial support, helping to negotiate existing bills, or providing financial education for the future. Whatever the need, Binc strives to provide additional guidance to each bookseller who reaches out to us for assistance, with the ultimate goal of preventing another financial hardship.

Calling on years of experience, Binc has compiled a useful Resource Guide to help anyone struggling with a wide variety of unexpected events. Whether you are experiencing serious medical expenses or are struggling to pay mounting utility bills, there are organizations out there ready to help beyond Binc. One important service that we provide, is helping to match booksellers with national and local assistance to supplement any help the Foundation provides.

Large national organizations like the Red CrossUnited Way and Community Action Partnerships are often the best places to begin a search for additional assistance. They are depositories for a wide variety of assistance resources specific to geographic location. We frequently refer to an amazing site called Need Help Paying Bills that lists resources by state, county, and city. These sites will provide a variety of resources from rent and utility assistance to food pantries and local thrift stores.

Medical expenses can be overwhelming and affording needed care is often difficult on a bookseller’s salary. One great Binc partner is NeedyMeds. They can help lower prescription costs or help you locate a no-cost or low-cost clinic. You can search their site by diagnosis or by prescription. NeedyMeds even has a funding platform for major medical expenses called HEALfundr.

If you are looking for help negotiating existing medical bills, we have compiled some tips in this flyer Medical Bill Negotiation How-To. Whether before your scheduled medical care or following emergency surgery, Binc strives to help booksellers maneuver the frustrating and confusing maze of health care billing.

Binc’s Resource Guide also has links to organizations geared to improving your financial well-being. There are some great websites with very useful and easy to follow steps to help booksellers save and work toward a healthy financial future. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the government website with a wealth of information to help manage bills and credit. NerdWallet can help you make informed decisions about credit cards, bank accounts, loans and more. Check out their thorough comparisons before making financial choices. Sign up for the newsletter at The Simple Dollar and money saving tips and timely and useful articles will come right to your inbox.

We are always looking for more resources to share with booksellers, so if you have a favorite, please feel free to pass it along!

Year-End Musings from Binc

The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection on the previous year and anticipation of what is to come. While the work of emergency financial assistance is nothing if not unpredictable, there are certain things that seem to hold true.

Hardships Frequently Come in Multiples

It would be nice if bad luck came in single isolated events, one problem that, once solved, would let life continue on as before. At Binc we know that most often, this is not how real life works. Take for example a serious medical event. The overwhelming bills are bad enough, but a medical emergency is often accompanied by a loss of income as the person recovers. Piled on to the stress of the injury or illness is the worry of how to pay the bills without the income they need to do so.

Financial assistance is not based on one event or one moment in time. It is all about how that moment will impact household financial stability today and for the months to come. This is why Binc considers all the events happening in  and uses a multi-pronged approach to get the bookseller’s household back on firm financial footing. Helping booksellers to negotiate their medical bills and/or negotiating and paying bills on their behalf is the first step. Once the bills are under control, Binc focuses on the bookseller’s other household expenses. Can those be covered while the bookseller is off work? Will the time needed for recuperation put the family in danger of losing their home or having their utilities shut off? Only by looking at the big picture can Binc plan the best method to really help the bookseller and their family for the long term.

Disasters Happen in Spite of Our Preparation

You could have the best plan in place and have checked off every box on Binc’s Disaster Checklist, but bad luck can still strike. As we saw this year, Mother Nature is fickle, spreading snow and ice storms, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and wildfires across the country. When natural disasters strike, they can create both a short- and a long-term need. In the short-term those impacted may need lodging, food, clothing and medicine to get them through an evacuation in the first hours after a disaster strikes. Longer term problems may include damaged or destroyed homes, or in the case of Paradise, CA, the destruction of an entire town. Bookstores may also be damaged or closed during disasters and even when they reopen it is often to very few customers as the community rebuilds. Once again, the need comes in multiple forms: immediate disaster assistance, replacement and rebuilding expenses, and loss of income in the aftermath of the disaster. Binc is ready, willing, and able to help in all of those situations.

Booksellers are Hesitant to Request and Accept Help

If you want to drive a Binc staff or board member crazy, tell us that you didn’t apply for assistance because “someone needed it more”. We hear this too often and are constantly telling booksellers that their need is as important as another’s. We get it, booksellers are a proud and independent bunch. That is what makes you all so good at what you do and the pillars of your communities. But every now and then, even the strongest pillar needs a bit of support to keep it strong. So, if life knocks you down, let Binc help you back up. You will be stronger for allowing your community of book people to give you a hand. And you will be in a better position to help someone else on another day.

Book People are the Best People

We continue to be amazed by the willingness of book people to help each other and the imaginative ways you accomplish this. Every natural disaster or story of a bookseller needing help is followed by a cry across the industry of “How can we help?”. We see this help every day come in different forms, whether it is a publisher writing a check, a trade association holding a fundraiser, a bookstore donating a portion of a day’s sales, or a bookseller making a small donation with every paycheck, that is the power of book people helping each other.

We appreciate the calls and emails we get alerting us when someone is in need of help. The bookselling industry is a family of like-minded folks who understand that it is the community that matters. We are proud to be a part of this community and grateful that you have embraced Binc as your foundation.

Here is to a happy and healthy 2019.

Binc participates in CI5

The fifth American Booksellers Association ABC Children’s Institute provided Binc with the opportunity to connect with booksellers, publishers, store owners and authors.

The event featured a number of excellent panels and keynote speakers, including: Ilsa Govan, Jason Reynolds and Rachel Ignotofsky. Binc Board member and Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association Executive Director Deb Leonard provided a great summary in her organization’s most recent newsletter.

CI5 was an awesome experience- honestly, I was awestruck many times.  The authors were wonderful, the education was helpful and informative, but this year everything else was blown away by the speakers. 

The opening keynote was Ilsa Govan, author of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strategies for facilitating Conversations on Race by Rowman & Littlefield.  With just a few short exercises, Ms Govan showed us how to illustrate some innate biases that we all have.   Her program showed ways to talk about race, culture and gender in non-confrontational ways.  It was a knock out!

Jason Reynolds has been a winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Award, winner of the Time Book of the Year and of the Kirkus Award, not to mention being a National Book Award Finalist. Jason is always highly entertaining, as well-as thought-provoking, and he was at his best here. If you ever have doubts about what a difference books can make in a child’s life, watch this program.

A conversation between Phillip and Erin Stead and their editor highlighted the journey from a scribbled note found buried in Mark Twain’s Files to the amazing The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine coming in September from Doubleday. The painstaking process of creating an illustrated book from a few notes from America’s best known author was daunting, but after hearing the Steads relate their efforts to bring this story to life, I am sure this will be a publishing event not to be forgotten.

Marley Dias is a 13-year-old black girl who was frustrated by not finding a single story in her school’s library that featured young black girls doing ordinary or even exciting things. Not one featuring a brainiac black girl astronaut with her trailblazing space poodle; not one with a fierce black girl fashion designer with her frisky Rottweiler on a rhinestone leash; not one about a black girl forensic anthropologist wither her inquisitive collie.  So, she decided that she would collect books with black girls as the main character. Not just a few books, but 1000 books! And she would give them away to places they were needed most. Marley started her campaign, and #1000BlackGirlBooks was born.  Marley was a featured speaker at White House United State of Women Summit, named “Coolest kid in America” by Ebony Magazine, selected by Teen Vogue as among the “10 amazing Black women who are changing the game”, and on and on.  Her book Marley Dias Gets it Done is coming from Scholastic this fall. This young lady should be on your radar!

The closing keynote speaker was Rachel Ignotofsky, author of Women in Science by Ten Speed Press. It was a fascinating talk about combining illustration and science literacy.  One of the most interesting details was that as she began the research for this book, Ms Ignotofsky expected that the reason there weren’t many well-known female scientists is because there weren’t many women who had opportunities to do become scientists.  To her (and our) great surprise, she found that there were hundreds in almost every discipline!  It was shocking, but not surprising that many, many women had achieved great success in many scientific endeavors, but that, because they were women, they had never been recognized. She intends to continue her search for unsung women with a book on Women in Sports coming this fall from Ten Speed.

Binc Scholarship recipient Kimberly Cake, of Enchanted Passage in Sutton Massachusetts was among the panelists included in a discussion on making a store more accessible for patrons and staff with disabilities. You can read more about it in Shelf Awareness.

Binc scholarship winner Kimberly Cake discusses creating an inclusive environment for patrons and staff with disabilities.
Binc scholarship winner Kimberly Cake discusses creating an inclusive environment for patrons and staff with disabilities.

Cake wasn’t the only Binc scholarship winner to make some waves in Portland. Sue Roegge of Chapter2Books participated in the question-and-answer portion of the presentation by Marley Dias on the need for diversity in school libraries and her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.

Sue Roegge, of Chapter2Books, asks a question during a presentation by Marley Dias. (Binc photo/Adam Gac)
Sue Roegge, of Chapter2Books, asks a question during a presentation by Marley Dias. (Binc photo/Adam Gac)

Between panels and keynote speakers, CI participants stopped by the Binc Foundation consultation station. Representatives from bookstores, other nonprofits, publishers and more visited with Executive Director Pam French to talk about the importance of our safety net for booksellers.



“As a first-time attendee, the energy and enthusiasm at Children’s Institute were inspiring!” French said. “I loved everything from the keynote presentations to the author reception to meeting booksellers and authors. This was the perfect place to let booksellers know about Binc and how the Foundation can help out when life doesn’t go as planned.”

The event was a sink-or-swim test for new Communication Coordinator Adam Gac, who was promptly overwhelmed by the incredible positivity of the children’s book industry professionals.

“Everyone was so excited to be there and to grow together. Even though I’m still new to the job, long-time Binc supporters and former grant recipients made me feel like I was part of the family,” Gac said.