Relief for booksellers in need

Reposted from Melville House. Written by Dustin Kurtz.

In the aftermath of disasters like Hurricane Sandy, it’s easy and common for the parts of the internet which we and our readers frequent to make much of the loss of books. We’re raised from a very young age to think of books as sacred, their preservation a desperate cause. When books are destroyed, the reaction is akin to mourning. Witness the outcry over books destroyed at Printed Matter or powerHouse Arena here in New York City this past week, or Bartleby’s Books in Vermont (a store dear to our heart for obvious reasons) during Tropical Storm Irene last year. See also the enormous popularity of our recent post about how to salvage water-damaged books.

I wouldn’t call that reaction misplaced, but I think it does tend to steal attention from other dire effects of natural disasters, and that is on the booksellers themselves. For stores along the entire Eastern seaboard, this has been a week of diminished or no sales. Stores in downtown Manhattan like Three Lives, McNally Jackson or the Mysterious Bookshop only regained power on Saturday. The fantastic Wachtung Booksellers in New Jersey is still without. In almost every case, this will mean a period without pay for the booksellers that make those stores what they are. Bookselling in this country is an underpaid profession, one with no opportunity to build personal or institutional safety nets. For booksellers, like much of the modern service industry, the loss of a week’s pay can trigger a disastrous spiral.

I thought it appropriate then, in the wake of Sandy, to take a moment to highlight one foundation that is working to help booksellers when disasters, wet and windy or otherwise, make lives difficult. The Book Industry Charitable Foundation offers small grants specifically for booksellers, meant chiefly to “stabilize the household finances so that an emergency situation does not overwhelm the household and spiral into a more extreme financial need” according to executive director Pamela French. Since early October, BINC has begun partnering with the American Booksellers Association to offer aid to their member stores. I spoke with Alison Foreman of the Foundation last week about her organization and it’s role in cases like the wake of Sandy.

DK: The foundation was started by Borders employees and founders back in 1995. Was it meant from the start to be open to booksellers everywhere, or was it envisioned as a Borders-specific endeavor?

Alison Foreman: The Borders Foundation was started in 1996 by a group of Borders employees at the corporate office when a store manager on the West coast reach out to them on behalf of their employee who was experiencing an extreme financial hardship as a result of a loss of household income due to divorce/separation. That very first grant was $323 and made a big difference for the bookstore employee and their family.

Following the first grant a group of dedicated volunteers formed a committee to facilitate the processing of filing the paperwork to have the Borders Group Foundation recognized by the state of Michigan and nationally as a 501(c)3 charitable organization. The idea or notion was that the Foundation would operate as a way for employees to reach out and help each other and be the heart of Borders. Over the fifteen years that BGF operated many employees gave to the organization and received support from the Foundation either via the financial assistance program, scholarship, financial education or bereavement outreach.

The Borders Group Foundation was created to be an organization dedicated to Borders employee helping Borders employee. The original mission did not focus outside of the Borders organization. However, when Borders went into liquidation the board of the Foundation began the process to review the long term strategic options of what might be next for the charity. What came out of the research and strategic planning with the help of another industry charity named the Two Ten Foundation (shoe industry charity) was that the board and many of our supporters wanted the Foundation to continue, but with an expanded mission. The vision was to expand and offer our programs to help all booksellers in the industry as the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

DK: Do the majority of your donations come from booksellers, whether individual or companies, or are publishers involved as well?

AF: Originally, as BGF, the majority of donations came from Borders employees with a company match of 50 cents to the dollar (up until 2009). Additionally, over the years we have received donations from publishers and other vendors connected to the industry.

Now, as the Binc Foundation we receive donations from many Borders alumni, support from vendors and from partners like the ABA. We are just beginning to received donations from book industry employees.

Our goal in the coming year is to gain further support from the industry through awareness and having booksellers get involved with us through volunteerism. We would love to have booksellers and publishers volunteer as an ambassador for Binc, serve on a committee and possibly even add a few new board members to our organization. And through expanding our volunteers and improving awareness we hope to increase donations as booksellers see us in action.

DK: Perhaps the most pertinent question—do you tend to see an upswing in requests for assistance after events like Sandy this year or Irene last? Or is it most often a result of everyday individual disasters?

AF: You are correct we generally see an upswing in requests and inquiries when events like Sandy occur. Not only do we receive requests for emergency hardship support but we also receive requests from booksellers after the event has occurred. Some booksellers may find their household needs help in the aftermath with repairs or with essential household expenses (like rent or mortgage) if a family member was unable to work for an extended period due to the disaster and that results in extreme financial hardship or burden.

Booksellers under financial hardship, whether because of lost wages in the aftermath of the hurricane or for disasters of a more personal scale, are urged to contact the foundation here.

Dustin Kurtz is a marketing manager at Melville House, a former bookseller for McNally Jackson and, too often, a wiseacre.

6 Great Zombie Reads to Inspire you for the Binc Foundation Zombie Apocalypse!

Written By: Dane Jackson

October is my favorite month of the year for many reasons, the main one being people’s willingness to get scared. As a fan of the horror genre (and the last Borders Horror Buyer), October is especially important to me because I like to recommend books to folks that just may make it hard for them to fall asleep at night. Here’s a list of some great reads to get you through October. Since the Binc Foundation’s Fall Fundraiser theme is Zombie Apocalypse!, I decided to stick with great zombie reads. Enjoy!

6) Feed – Mira Grant: Mira Grant is the name urban fantasy writer Seanan McGuire uses when she wrote her Newsflesh zombie trilogy. With Feed, Grant gives us a world where everyone has the zombie virus and will reanimate upon death. Because of that, bodies need to be dealt with pretty quickly after someone dies. This story follows two bloggers who are covering a presidential race, but they find out someone is trying to assassinate the senator using zombies. At its core, Feed is a criticism of mainstream media and the news.

5) Dead of Night – Jonathan Maberry: A serial killer is injected with an experimental serum that is supposed to keep his mind conscious while his body rots away into nothing. It’s the ultimate death penalty and is being tested as a bioweapon for the military, but something goes wrong. Before he can be buried, the killer wakes up with a serious hunger. Dead of Night is filled with lots of gore, action, and military and government conspiracies…key elements to a great zombie novel. Maberry also does a great job developing the human characters and the science behind the zombie infections. It’s a very fast read that makes you want more!

4) Double Dead – Chuck Wendig: Here’s another one of those “why didn’t I think of that” novels. In Double Dead, Wendig introduces us to Coburn, a vampire with a bad attitude who just happens to wake up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. With his food supply drying out, he’s forced to become the protector of a group of survivors as they make their way West. The book is smart, clever, vulgar, and incredibly gory. It’s also a lot of fun to read.

3) The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor – Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga: If you’re a fan of the comic series or the TV Show, this should be required reading. The Rise of the Governor is Kirkman’s first novel and it tells the story of one of the worst (best?) bad guys in all of comic history…The Governor. This novel is filled with some genuine scares that gave me nightmares and it tells an important backstory to the character who is sure to be one of the focal points of the upcoming season of The Walking Dead.

2) Zone One – Colson Whitehead: Colson Whitehead was the last person I expected to write a zombie novel, but after reading Zone One, I’m glad he did. His novel takes place in Manhattan after the apocalypse as society is trying to rebuild. We follow Mark Spitz around, who is on a team that has the job of making sure building are clear of zombies so the rebuilding can begin. We see glimpses of the apocalypse through Spitz in the form of flashbacks, and through that, Whitehead explores the notion of PASD – Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder. I like this novel so much because it focuses more on the human element over the zombie element.

1) World War Z – Max Brooks: This is the gold standard of zombie fiction. Every zombie novel I read is always judged against World War Z. I realize that it’s not fair to those other books, but that’s just the way it is. Told in the form of an oral history, Max Brooks inserts himself in the story as a journalist trying to get the complete story of the Zombie War from all of the survivors. This is my go-to recommendation for just about anyone, and especially for a list of zombies. If you only read one book on this list this month, make sure it’s World War Z.

Now that you have 6 “scary good” recommendation to learn more about Zombies, we hope you will join the Binc Foundation on Saturday October 27th, 2012 at the Arbor Brewing Company to survive the Zombie Apocalypse!

About Dane Jackson: I’m an aspiring author. I’m currently a freelance entertainment journalist, as well as a social media guru – currently helping independent retailers across the nation with promoting their stores.

Zombie Apocalypse!

A beer-tasting event is scheduled for October 27, 2012 at Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Join friends and supporters, as we taste the variety of brews on tap at this popular downtown gathering place. Enjoy beer and snacks, play some darts, visit with friends, find out what is “brewing” with the Foundation and even win a prize! Registration details: General admission tickets $30 & VIP tickets $100 ($31 and $104 if ordered on-line due to processing fees). Event sponsorships range from $250-$5,000.

A frighteningly fun event!
A frighteningly fun event!

11 Reasons to Meet Up with the Binc Foundation as they Travel to the Fall IBA Conferences

The Binc Foundation will be taking our show on the road in Fall 2012! Catch us at the many stops we will be making around the country to introduce ourselves to booksellers at the regional IBA conferences.

Now you may be asking yourself, who is the Binc Foundation & what can they do for me as a bookseller? Here are 11 great reasons to get to know us:

1. We have been helping bookstore employees facing emergency financial hardships since 1996.

2. If you stop by our booth at one of the IBA conferences you can enter our raffle for a $100 AmEx giftcard. Just for entering the raffle you will receive a Binc Foundation magnet.

3. Binc Foundation offers scholarships for higher education each year in February. The program is open to bookstore employees, bookstore owners and their dependents.

4. We love books and are dedicated to helping indie bookstores.

5. At the MPIBA trade show 9/20/12 – 9/23/12 stop by our booth (#11) to meet our newest board member Lori Tucker-Sullivan of the Independent Booksellers Consortium.

6. At the Heartland Fall Forum the joint tradeshow for GLIBA & MIBA, the Binc Foundation will be the beneficiary of the funds raised from their annual silent auction held on Friday, October 5th.

7. We have a great tag line “Book people helping book people”.

8. If you live in the east, stop by and visit us at NAIBA (Booth#55B) in Washington or NEIBA (Booth #D35) in Providence. Register for our raffle and take home some information.

9. At the PNBA show Pam our Executive Director will provide an information learning session about the Binc Foundation on Saturday, 10/13 at 10:30 a.m.

10. At the end of the Fall conference season all booksellers who have entered our raffle will be eligible for our grand prize award of a scholarship to ABA’s Wi8 in Kansas City.

11. Binc Foundation exists to strengthen the bookselling community through charitable programs that support employees and their families.

We hope to meet you soon. Please leave a comment if we can plan to see you in Denver, Minneapolis, Tacoma, Washington DC, San Francisco or Providence.


Pam, Alison & Kit

Book Industry Charitable Foundation at Book Expo America

June 4-7, 2012 – The staff of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation traveled to New York City to attend Book Expo America at the Javits Center. Pam, Alison and Kit spent three jam packed days meeting with publishers, distributors, book store owners, authors, and representatives of the American Booksellers Association. Armed with informational flyers and copies of the previous Sunday’s New York Times article, the staff focused on increasing awareness to those attending the show of the services provided by the Foundation to book store employees. Many of the people met during BEA were aware of the Borders Group Foundation of past, and were genuinely pleased that the Foundation remains viable and expanded its mission. Publishers, distributors, book store owners, authors and others in the industry were eager to help us spread the message and introduced many good ideas for the staff to implement in the months ahead.