Pam, Alison & Kit Look Back on Binc’s First Year

During this Holiday season we are looking back on what made this year memorable. We want to share why we are proud of Binc with our great supporters, volunteers & all book people.

Pam’s List

1. Still helping booksellers in need. Our vision to expand to the entire book industry is beginning to be realized as grants are issued to booksellers across the country.

2. Providing a legacy of Borders/Waldenbooks. The generosity of Borders and Waldenbooks alumni has allowed us to expand our mission and become “book people helping book people.”

3. Efforts at improving awareness are starting to pay off and take hold industry wide. We attended many events from CAMEX to BEA to the fall IBA tradeshows and the booksellers we’ve met along the way are beginning to help us spread the word about the Foundation.

4. Accomplishing so many of our goals and checking them off our ‘to do’ list.

Pam's To Do list.
Pam’s To Do list.

5. Getting to work with amazing volunteers, board members, interns, and staff. I have no doubt that the people who support Binc are the reason we have achieved so much this past year. Thanks to each person who has contributed to Binc through volunteering at an event, donating, sharing our social media posts, liking us on Facebook and letting booksellers know we are here to help.

Alison’s List

1. Helping bookstore employees after Superstorm Sandy. After Sandy made landfall in NYC, Binc very quickly contacted bookstores in the impacted areas of New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. In total Binc assisted 10 bookstore employees who needed help paying bills after the storm due to loss of work for a week or more.

2. Meeting Jennifer Keeley a former Borders associate at the Heartland Fall Forum. It was Jennifer’s suggestion to the Midwest & Great Lakes IBAs, that Binc be the recipient of their silent auction fundraiser, raising over $3,000!

3. Continuing to support former Borders employees in 2013 who are experiencing financial hardships.

4. Giving my first interview for Binc. I spoke with with Melville House in the the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and taught them about Binc. They helped us spread the word through their MobyLives! blog. Relief for Booksellers in Need.

5. Working with the Program Committee to make great changes for the 2013 Scholarship program. The 2013 Binc Foundation Scholarship Program will open February 2013 and will be open to former Borders associates & all bookstore employees, operators & their dependents. If you are planning to seek higher education in the coming year we hope you will apply!

Kit’s List

1. Sharing the idea of an industry wide foundation with others. The reactions range from disbelief to amazement to excitement. Even a few whoops of joy from former Borders folks as they find out that the Foundation lives on!

2. Creating office policies & procedures from scratch. Payroll, benefits, employee handbook, accounting, IT/phone systems and more– it was all learned and implemented.

3. Continuing to be good stewards of our donations. We want our supporters to always know that their donations are efficiently used to help book store employees in their time of greatest need.

4. Expanding our fundraising to include community and industry supporters. We reinvented our fundraising model to encompass a larger audience. Through the Big House Big Heart Run, our wildly successful Zombie Apocalypse!, and various smaller events, we raised over $20K. Many thanks to all the volunteers who made this possible. Click here to donate through our online option!

5. Going from 0 to 450+ in Social Media. One year ago we barely understood social media – now in addition to our new website and blog, we have a Facebook page, LinkedIn group and a Twitter feed. Be sure to follow them all!

We are all very proud to be a part of the bookselling community and wish you all a joyous and safe holiday season.

Best Wishes,

Pam, Kit & Alison

Making Room for Giving Tuesday

We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals….Wouldn’t it be great to have a day for giving back?

On Tuesday November 27, 2012 charities, families, businesses and individuals are coming together to transform the way people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season.

It’s a simple idea. Find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to join in acts of giving. Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity.

And together we’ll create ways to give more, give better and give smarter.

New York’s 92nd Street Y was the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday, joined by the United Nations Foundation and an amazing team of influencers all offering their ideas, contacts and wisdom to help shape and improve the concept.

But what really matters is YOU. #GivingTuesday relies on people everywhere playing their part to make it a real success.

Find out more about Giving Tuesday here.

Click here to find out how you can give to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation to help support booksellers in need.

Registered Agents: Not as flashy as Bond, but just as important!

As a federally designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation is required to register in nearly every state where we plan to raise funds. For the record, as of today, that number is 43. The registration could be with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Consumer Affairs Department, the Department of Licensing or any number of other official offices. In a number of cases this is a simple single page form with contact and financial information about Binc. In most states, however, registration requires several forms plus supporting documentation and of course a fee be submitted. There are even a few states that require us to be registered with multiple departments!

In 18 states we are required to have a “registered agent” residing in the state. The stated purpose of the RA is to receive any legal mail addressed to the Foundation, although we have never known of a registered agent ever receiving anything. None the less, the registration forms are not considered complete unless these lines are filled in.

Here is where you can help. If you live in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont or Wyoming, we need your help. Please contact Binc at to be your state’s registered agent. It’s critical to Binc, it’s super easy and think how impressive it will look on your resume.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: On the Road with Binc

For six weeks in September and October, one or all of Binc’s three person staff was on the road visiting the regional conferences sponsored by the Independent Bookseller Associations. Pam, Alison and Kit made the most of this chance to meet and greet booksellers across the country. Spreading Binc’s message of the assistance programs available directly to the booksellers was an invaluable opportunity and the warm reception we received was heartening.

The bookstore employees we met were pleased to hear of the financial assistance and scholarships that are available to them through the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. A few knew of the existence of the Foundation, but to most it was a new and welcome announcement. If you didn’t get a chance to meet us on the road, please contact us anytime to discover how the Binc Foundation can be of assistance.

As a special surprise, at the Heartland Fall Forum (the combined GLIBA and MIBA conference) Binc was the designated recipient of the proceeds from their annual silent auction. As a result of some very active bidding $3969 was raised to assist with the emergency needs of bookstore employees across the country. Thank you to all the donors and bidders!

Binc would like to thank the executive directors, Wanda Jewell from SIBA, Laura Ayrey from MPIBA, Eileen Dengler from NAIBA, Steve Fischer from NEIBA, Carrie Orby from MIBA, Deb Leonard from GLIBA, Hut Landon from NCIBA and Thom Chambliss from PNBA for their hospitality and support.

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.