Why We Do What We Do

We recently received a note from a bookstore employee who we assisted back in 1999. It is obvious from the note that the Foundation’s help was life altering.

“I give to Binc because I truly believe in the Foundation’s mission. Retail is not typically a high paying industry and when people work in books stores, it’s because of the passion they have for it.

In 1999, I was in a bad relationship of 8 years. I packed my truck up and headed home to my parents. It took support and encouragement to go to Domestic Abuse counseling, when I thought I would be fine on my own. It was there when I realized how much emotional and mental abuse I was enduring over the years. That counseling helped me to see I was a person of worth and God’s child. It also gave me the strength to turn towards the Foundation to explain my situation and start over. I am proud to say I was a survivor as not all cases like this have this ending.

I was so overwhelmed by the Foundation’s generosity. They helped me to establish a new life in a new apartment. They even paid for the deposit and 1st month’s rent, which was all I expected really. When I found out that they would also hook up my utilities and phone, I was humbled. They further supplied me with starter items for a new apartment, such things as cleaning supplies, dishes, etc. Outside of the financial support, they gave me the understanding and caring I needed at that time. They also kept everything very confidential.”

If you, or a book store employee you know are in need of assistance for domestic abuse, medical expenses, loss of household income or natural disaster, please encourage them to contact the Foundation – info@bincfoundation.org or 866-733-9064.

If you believe, as this person does, that providing emergency assistance is important to continue, please consider a donation to Binc.

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Getting Results: Dealing with Bureaucracies

For years we have been helping our applicants deal with the red tape that goes hand-in-hand with most financial problems. Whether you are a bookseller facing a financial emergency, you are dealing with a bureaucratic mess, or merely wanting to get a company or organization to answer questions, it can be a challenge. We have compiled the following list of helpful hints to help you get the results you want.

1. Get and stay organized. Never rely on others to keep track of your papers, phone calls and correspondence. Keep copies of every paper you sign or send. If mailing important papers, send them by certified mail, return receipt requested, and staple the return card to your copy. Keep everything in a chronological file.

2. Name and number. Whenever you speak with someone by phone, do not hang up before getting his or her name, address, direct phone number and fax number.

3. Get it in writing. When given an answer that you think is incorrect, politely ask for a copy of the written authority, which will explain or justify their answer.

4. “Official policy” If this is the explanation you are given, express your doubt and ask for a copy of the written policy.

5. Go over their head. For almost every person you speak to, there is a boss or supervisor who may have a different answer to your request. Keep climbing the ladder until you get a favorable answer. If you hit a “dead end” consider contacting your congressional representative. This can often “shake things loose”.

6. Document everything. Assume that if it isn’t confirmed in writing, and it isn’t in your hands, then it doesn’t exist. This applies to things that people say have happened, will happen, and to things you have done. You never know when you will have to “prove” something that was promised.

7. Make sure you understand. If the person is not explaining things in terms you understand, make them rephrase it. No question is too basic to ask. Do not hang up or leave an office without clearly understanding what just took place.

8. Set deadlines. Don’t settle for “I’ll get back to you”. Set a definite date for a response or action. When that date arrives, write one follow-up request, stating the lack of action, setting another date. If nothing happens, then move on to another strategy. There is not point in chasing someone who has no intention of assisting you.

9. Be persistent. The bureaucrats have time on their side and hope to “wait you out”. Keep contacting them and demonstrate that you have no intention of giving up.

10. Know the pros. Keep a list of the names and phone numbers of people who are knowledgeable and have been helpful. Be nice to these people and return to them if you need help.

11. Know when to quit. There are times when you must drop your cause. Know when your determination has turned to obsession.

12. Be professional. Always be courteous, professional and honest. Your credibility is a key element in your dispute.

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Binc’s First Winter Institute Visit

While getting into and out of Kansas City was a lesson in patience, it was worth the wait. This was my first time attending Winter Institute. Wow, what a great event for book people! From the education sessions to the author signings to the casual conversations about bookselling, this was a great place to learn new skills for running a bookshop, and importantly meet booksellers.

A few new acquaintances include Bruce Delaney from Rediscovered Books in Boise, ID and Seth Marko from UCSD Bookstore in La Jolla, CA and Gloria Zanger from Book Look in Stevens Point, WI. And it was great to meet Anne Philbrick from Bank Square Books, very glad her shop is back open after hurricane Sandy. And thank you to Wendy Hudson from Nantucket Book Partners in Nantucket, MA and Bill Cusamano from Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, MI for stopping by to see me at the consultation station.

In addition to meeting new booksellers it was very good to catch up with Melissa Opei from Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane, WA and Matthew Gildea from Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cinncinnati, OH. And I was also able to stop in at CAMEX for an afternoon and caught up with Cynthia D’Angleo from NACS and Loreen Maxfield from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

I was very lucky to have the winning bid in the ABFFE Art Auction to Benefit Children’s Books. The Adventures of Inky Pete by Andy Musser has found a home in our offices.

Inky Pete revised

A big thank you to our friends at ABA for including the Foundation in this event. This was a perfect way to continue to spread the word about the financial assistance that is available to booksellers. I’m already looking forward to next year and meeting up with everyone in Seattle. It doesn’t snow in Seattle? Does it?

Post by Pam French – Executive Director, Binc Foundation

Spring

Spring makes me happy. I know that the temperature and wind chill may lead you to believe otherwise; but spring is officially here.

I love how people’s moods change as it stays light later in the evening. For many, thoughts turn to pretty new clothes, planning a garden, and outdoor projects. For me, it’s all about spring cleaning and de-cluttering. I’m not a neat freak; I have dust bunnies that are almost as large as my cats (who contributed to the making of said dust bunnies). But I do like organizing and attempting to find a place for everything.

One of my favorite books is Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. She also wrote The Happiness Project and both have inspired me to tackle some projects that I am forever putting off.

Happier at Home imageFor example, last weekend, I finally gave up on the idea that I was going to use my small-ish paper shredder to go through about 15 years worth of documents and took it all to the local office supply store to shred. Ten minutes and $10 later, I felt as if I was 30 lbs lighter instead of the boxes of paperwork I left behind. The happiness I felt is exactly what Rubin describes in her books. Check out her website to learn more.

This weekend, I’m sorting through what I no longer need, either to donate or sell at my community’s yard sale next month. Donating so that someone else gets use out of something that I no longer need is another thing that makes me happy (and gets me a step closer to a clutter-free house!).

Speaking of donating, Book Industry Charitable Foundation can use always put your donations to good use – whether it’s a one-time or recurring donation, a gift of airline miles, credit card rewards points, or donating your time. Your donation helps book people in need. As a former bookseller and a lifelong book person, I’m proud to have donated to Binc Foundation in various ways since it started in 1996. Learn more about how you can help by donating.

Hopefully, it will soon be warm enough wherever you may be to enjoy spring!

Post by Mary Fitzgerald, optimistic member of the Marketing & Communications Committee.