Ann Arbor—The Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship committee—made up of representatives from across the book industry—has selected this year’s scholarship winner. The committee used an anonymous application process to ensure their final choice was selected fairly and with integrity.
On this year’s pool of applicants and proposed community projects, Carla Gray committee member, Jenna Johnson, said, “It was such an honor to consider the applications submitted. With real creativity, thoughtfulness, and generosity, they showed booksellers selflessly committing themselves to giving each and every person in their communities access to books. We were moved by Miesha’s project aiming to amplify a range of voices and reach across audiences in her community. It means so much to us that this good work will continue, in part, in Carla’s name.”
Scholarship winner Miesha Headen will be using the grant to support her work organizing Loganberry’s People of Color Author Showcase. This showcase is held in collaboration with the Great Lakes African American Writers’ Conference and Cleveland Book Week. Among Headen’s goals for the program are to increase the number of readers of diverse literature and to provide a platform for diverse authors in the literary community of Cleveland.
On learning that she was awarded the grant Headen told Binc, “I am proud to be this year’s recipient of the Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists. I have a passion for literature that explores a unique place, enriching the understanding of outsiders. I am grateful to Binc for providing me and Loganberry Books the support to continue our community outreach to writers of color in Ohio who deep dive into our midwestern culture. We believe that giving these writers a platform for their literary art will attract existing readers and draw in new ones.”
As part of the scholarship, Headen has also been awarded funds to cover travel and hotel for attendance to Winter Institute in January and attendance to Heartland Fall Forum, her region’s fall tradeshow in 2020.
“The Binc Foundation is honored to commemorate Carla’s legacy and her passion for literature with this scholarship,” says Pam French, Binc’s Executive Director. “It is a privilege to participate in continuing Carla’s legacy by providing a wonderful opportunity to a bookseller so they can have an even bigger impact on their community and further their own professional development.”
Ann Arbor—Early in the spring Binc conducted its third industry-wide survey. A record total of 696 respondents representing a wide cross-section of the bookselling industry participated.
This snapshot of the industry and supporters of the Foundation provides the Binc board and staff with concrete data to rate the Foundation’s performance and relevance and to collect suggestions for addressing booksellers’ current needs and desires for their foundation.
The overall goals for the survey were to gather information on booksellers’ current level of awareness of the Foundation’s services, rate program performance and relevance, and to solicit suggestions for new programs.
On the importance of the data the Foundation receives from the survey, Executive Director Pam French said, “Binc is here to serve booksellers, and with the feedback we received from booksellers and industry professionals through this survey, we are better equipped to act on our mission—which is providing a financial safety net for bookstore employees. We cannot overstate how much we value the feedback we receive, and we have been heartened to learn that awareness of our financial assistance programs continues to grow and that the Foundation is more valued than ever before. But the survey also shows there is still work for us to do. There are currently booksellers in crisis who are not coming to Binc when they need help, and our mission is to reach every qualifying bookseller in the country with assistance. We are also hard at work putting together new pilot programs to address grief counseling and financial literacy. These new programs are based directly on survey responses and what booksellers tell us they want and need.”
Key Findings 2019 Survey: Awareness
Awareness of Binc and the services the Foundation provides to booksellers continues its trajectory of growth across the industry. Only 16% of survey respondents were “not at all familiar with Binc” this year, compared with 28% of respondents in 2016, and 38% in 2014.
Binc is more valued today than in previous years when the survey was conducted.
Fellow booksellers and colleagues, Shelf Awareness, and the Regional Trade Associations are the leading ways booksellers find out about Binc’s financial assistance services and scholarship opportunities.
Self-reported need for financial assistance is 1 in 5 respondents, with 22% of respondents stating they had an emergency financial need in the last two years.
Despite growth, less than half of booksellers who identified as needing assistance are applying to Binc.
Booksellers who don’t apply are incorrectly assuming that their need is not great enough or their situation would not qualify.
100% of respondents who received assistance from Binc had a positive experience.
67% of survey respondents were frontline booksellers, managers, and bookstore owners.
Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, and Bookselling This Week were the top resources respondents relied on for general news about the bookselling industry.
Donations & Donors
The biggest barrier to donating was that respondents didn’t have extra money after their bills are paid.
1 out of 3 respondents had supported the Foundation at some time.
91% of those who donated reported that financial assistance was the most important program to them (compared with scholarships and professional development).
Most importantly, the survey results showed that 1 in 5 booksellers have faced a financial emergency in the last two years, demonstrating that many booksellers are vulnerable during a financial emergency. The survey echoes nationwide findings that 1 in 4 Americans do not have access to $400 to cover an emergency need, making it difficult or impossible to quickly recover from unexpected life events like illness or accident. Problems that start off small (a missed utility bill due to limited income being funneled to a large medical bill) can quickly escalate out of control.
The Foundation is needed more now than ever and is having its busiest year assisting booksellers since 2011. The survey results demonstrate there is a need in the book industry for an industry-supported emergency financial safety net and that booksellers feel the effects of an emergency or disaster long after the initial emergency has passed.
The Foundation is now preparing for Giving Tuesday and is working with two of their valued partners, Penguin Random House and Ingram on their annual Year-End fundraising campaign. The Foundation continues to help booksellers affected by the California wildfires, power outages, and many other personal financial emergencies every day. Binc so far this year has seen a 38% increase in year-over-year approved grants as the need amongst booksellers and awareness of the Foundation’s services continue to grow.
Binc is very grateful for everyone who participated in the survey. These responses help steer the direction of the Foundation and serve booksellers today and into the future.
Hundreds of booksellers have been evacuated from their homes due to the wildfires happening in California right now, at least a dozen bookstores are temporarily closed, and more are trying to stay open without power and only a few customers coming through the doors.
“The situation in Northern California for many indie booksellers can only be described as dire, with a number of NCIBA member stores being forced to close their doors–some since Saturday. Other stores are staying open, but only by overcoming huge obstacles in creative ways.” – Publishers Weekly
How You Can Help Booksellers Right Now
The Book Group (a New York-based literary agency) has just announced a $2000 match to help booksellers affected by the wildfires and power outages.
If you know a bookseller or comic retailer who may be in need of assistance, please encourage them to contact Binc.
How Binc Can Help Booksellers
If the store has to close or business is so slow (due to evacuations, fires, and/or loss of electricity) that you cannot pay the store rent or utilities, Binc may be able to pay rent and utility expenses on your behalf.
If a bookseller/retailer misses 50% of scheduled weekly work hours, Binc may be able to help with personal household expenses if this missed income causes financial hardship.
If a bookseller/retailer needs to relocate to temporary housing with power for emergency reasons (medical condition, elderly household members, infant, etc.), Binc may be able to help pay for temporary lodging and supplies.
Email Binc at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866.733.9064. Kit, Pam, or Kate will talk you through the possible assistance options.
One question we hear in relation to domestic violence requests is – “Do we have to be married?” The answer from Binc is a resounding “No”. While many state penal codes define domestic violence as between intimate partners, we take a broader view of this problem. At Binc we realize that domestic relationships come in many varieties. Whether a bookseller lives in a traditional marriage, with a partner of either sex or in an unrelated roommate situation, any of these living situations could unexpectedly lead to an unsafe living environment. The necessary qualifier for Binc assistance is that the bookseller must have a need to move for safety or emotional reasons and be unable to afford the cost of the move. The Binc Foundation responds to domestic violence in many forms.
A bookseller in a “traditional” marriage of many years found themselves having to leave the marriage in a hurry. Their spouse’s chronic use of drugs and alcohol had escalated to a dangerous level. There were children in the home and the bookseller feared for their safety. The abusive spouse refused to leave the home and the bookseller was unsafe staying. Binc was able to help the family move into a safe residence where they had the support of friends and family as they worked to create a new and safe environment for the children.
Another bookseller found themselves in an unsafe position when their domestic partner’s criticism escalated into constant and angry verbal abuse. The bookseller tried to diffuse the situation by altering their everyday routine and trying to avoid their partner as much as possible. The constant stress was impacting the bookseller’s health and their ability to do their job. The bookseller was encouraged by their colleagues to call Binc for help. A bit of help with move-in expenses allowed the bookseller to find a new home where they could breathe again and feel safe.
As the cost of housing rapidly rises, more and more people are discovering the only affordable housing to be found is by renting a room in a house with one or more unrelated individuals. Even after doing their due diligence to assess their compatibility with the other residents, the situation can change in ways the bookseller can’t control. We heard from a bookseller who was living comfortably in such a situation until the homeowner invited a friend to move in. This friend brought along with them a drug and alcohol problem and a violent temper. After several dangerous incidents, the bookseller was feeling so unsafe in the house, that they had taken to sleeping in their car. This situation was understandably causing a huge amount of daily stress for the bookseller. With Binc’s assistance, they were able to move into a new residence where they can again live without fear.
At Binc we firmly believe that everyone is entitled to live without fear for their safety. Only when someone lives without fear can they focus on the other aspects of their lives. Through the generosity of our donors, Binc can help booksellers living in unsafe situations find a secure and healthy home.