California Wildfires

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.
  • Give today, and your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.
    Sign up to become a monthly sustaining donor. Your first month’s donation will be matched dollar for dollar.
  • Email us to increase your monthly gift.
  • Spread the word on social media.
  • 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 or call 866.733.9064. Kit, Pam, or Kate will talk you through the possible assistance options.

Denver Publishing Institute Connects Industry to Community

This article was originally published by the University of Denver on August 27, 2019

The Denver Publishing Institute (DPI), now in its 44th year, is emphasizing the voices of booksellers through a scholarship program made possible by DU, Sourcebooks and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc). Kate Kenney (center) is the event coordinator at Bank Square Books and a newly minted graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute.

After earning her MFA in creative writing at Western Washington University, Kenney sought out what she most loved—working with books. It was at the Boulder Bookstore that Kenney first found out about the Denver Publishing Institute.

“I found a flyer in the breakroom and thought this would be a really great opportunity. I wouldn’t have been able to attend DPI without the scholarship and I’m so grateful to be here. Every time I hear a speaker, I think about how much it’s going to help me as I move forward.”

The Denver Publishing Institute provides opportunities for students, publishers, librarians and young professionals like Kenney to experience a wide range of what the industry entails. This four-week immersive program is centered around workshops, lectures and special sessions led by top professionals drawn from the world of book publishing. As a core part of the program, students make connections, build professional networks, receive career support and get to interact with industry leaders in both formal and informal settings.

Denver Publishing Institute

Jill Smith, the Director of the Denver Publishing Institute, explains the breadth of the program. “Students come to us from all around the country. For the first time this year, I put up a map and had students put a pin where they wanted to find a job. We’ve always had a sense that they come from everywhere and go back everywhere, but where is everywhere?”

“Just by looking at the pins,” Smith continues, “they can see that they are forming a widespread network through DPI. This is one of our strengths.”

What unites these individuals is a shared belief in the power of books to impact people, an idea captured in Sourcebooks’ motto: “Books. Change. Lives.” Sourcebooks is one of the largest independent publishers in the U.S., publishing 400 books a year across most genres.

Todd Stocke, editorial director, explains the company’s investment in the voices of booksellers like Kenney. “We come from roots of both marketing and bookselling. We have a client-focused approach to our publishing model, with ‘client’ encompassing our authors, our readers and our retail partners.”

Bookselling is integral to a full understanding of the publishing world, says Stocke. “A lot of times publishing folks like to stay in their own heads, when where their heads should be is in a bookstore because that’s where people are buying their books. At Sourcebooks, we’ve worked hard to retain that mindset over the years.”

Stocke lectures on “Digital Innovations in Publishing” with a focus on how digital technologies open possibilities across the book industry, including booksellers in a brick-and-mortar store.

“The core of what I talk about is change positivity—folks being open to what is beyond what they already know. Publishing used to be a linear process, but now we can experiment with the entire process along the way; from its origins to how it takes shape as a finished product.”

Talks like Stocke’s that embrace the full range of the book industry, are a primary strength of what the Denver Publishing Institute offers its students, says Smith.

“What I love is being able to present the entire book publishing ecosystem and having students come and learn about everything. It helps them find where they fit best into the whole system.” Smith continues, “Going through the program, they might realize a career path they never previously considered. It’s a beautiful thing to see students find their path.”

Kenney agrees, noting the broadened perspective she’s gained during her time at DPI. “I was surprised going through the program how much booksellers talk about all of this but we don’t think about it as someone’s job. We’ll be shelving books and say ‘great cover,’ or we’ll comment on someone’s author photo—we see the whole industry as booksellers, but we don’t know it. Here at DPI we get to engage every part of publishing.”

What We Learned at Ci7

Pittsburgh, PA June 2019

I love going to industry tradeshows and conferences and Ci7 in Pittsburgh was one of the best (and most intense) I’ve been to yet. On my first day in Pittsburgh, I did the full-day bookstore tour where a busload of booksellers and other industry folks visited five of Pittsburgh’s growing and beloved indies: Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Spark Books, City of Asylum, White Whale Bookstore, and Classic Lines Bookstore. It was awesome to see these bookstores in person (the majority of which are less than four years old) and the growing literary community in Pittsburgh. There was another tour which was also offered where people visited indie bookshops in the north side of the city and surrounding suburbs. Opening a bookstore is often both a risk and the realization of a lifelong dream, and it is our core mission at Binc to support these intrepid entrepreneurs and their hard-working employees.

One of the most important Binc-related realizations that I took home from this gathering of booksellers was that even though Binc has been serving US booksellers’ emergency financial needs since 2011, there are still misconceptions about what Binc does, who qualifies for assistance, and what kinds of events Binc can help with.

Booksellers do not have to donate or “belong” to Binc to qualify for assistance—ever.

The first thing I often have to clear up when getting into a discussion with a bookseller who is mostly unfamiliar with Binc (oh you’re from that bookstore charity), is that Binc is not a membership organization. Booksellers do not have to donate or “belong” to Binc to qualify for assistance—ever. Binc is a nonprofit foundation funded and supported by a community of caring and generous donors from across the industry (i.e. authors, publishers, frontline booksellers, bookstore owners, the ABA, and regional associations like NCIBA and NEIBA) and we serve all people working full-time or part-time in a brick and mortar bookstore for over 90-days. We serve frontline booksellers, comic book retailers, owners, managers, buyers, events coordinators, and shift leaders. If you work in a bookstore—Binc is your foundation. There are no membership fees or costs, and there never will be.

Another misconception I often encounter at trade shows or when I’m visiting bookstores is that Binc assistance applies only to the bookstore itself or the bookstore owner. This is also not the case. If a tree falls on your house, and you work in a bookstore year-round, it’s possible that Binc can help. Due to donations from across the industry, Binc is able to help with a vast range of emergency events that effect booksellers’ lives outside of the bookstore where they work. Binc has helped pay for addiction treatment, vital medications, preventing eviction, repairs after a tornado partially destroyed a home, funeral expenses for a loved one, relocation for domestic violence survivors, dealing with bed bugs, and 100s more qualifying events. If you’re not sure if your situation qualifies, and you’re struggling financially after something unexpected happened in your life, call us. We’ll talk you through our simple application process and do our best to get you some relief.

If you’re not sure if your situation qualifies, call us.

Sometimes when I tell people about Binc they ask, “So what’s the catch? Do I have to pay the money back? Do you tell everyone I needed assistance?” The honest answer is that there is no catch. You never have to pay the money back (the assistance is in the form of grants, not loans), and our financial assistance programs are 100% confidential and judgment-free. We take your situation as it is and do our best to work with you and help you find a way out of it so you can get back to normal as quickly as possible.

At Binc we believe in the power of the indie bookstore in a community and the value of the people who work in that bookstore who every day make the store what it is. Binc is here for the children’s book buyer who is selecting the books on the shelves to reflect and at times challenge their community, the events coordinator who is always staying late and working weekends and moving that shelf out of the way for the 100th time, the aspiring writer and frontline bookseller who is trying to make her bookseller’s hourly wage work in New York City, for the new bookstore owner with a young family who has big dreams about building something great and valued for their community. Binc is here for each of them in times of great need. I always tell people, I wish that nobody ever needed Binc, but I also know that’s not the world we live in. At least it’s good to know if you need a little help during an emergency, that Binc will be here to help you find your way through a crisis. Then afterward, you can keep slinging those books and sharing your favorite stories with your customers and doing the incredible work of selling books and connecting readers with the stories they so urgently need to hear.

Kate Weiss was a frontline bookseller and book buyer for over ten years and is currently the communication and marketing coordinator at the Book Industry Charitable Foundation.

Guest Post from COVR

Join us in welcoming the Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) to the bookselling community that Binc Serves. We asked president Karen Stuth to tell us a little bit about COVR and their member stores and booksellers.

The Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) is the not-for-profit trade association for the Mind Body Spirit marketplace. COVR support the success of its members by providing education, mentoring, member discounts, and targeted networking. Our members include retail bookstore and gift store owners, publishers, distributors, vendors, musicians, artists, authors, product developers and manufacturers, filmmakers, radio and television hosts, inspirational speakers, jewelry-makers, healing arts practitioners, and more.

COVR was formed in 1996 by a group of people from the very unique businesses that create and sell conscious living and visionary books, music, products, and services. Recognizing the special dynamics of our industry, our founders created an organization to help and support each other.

Our members are in the business of helping the world become a better place with their spiritually uplifting products and services that nurture and celebrate the human spirit. COVR Members support and embrace a spiritual world view characterized by global concern, social conscience, peaceful coexistence, and ecological sustainability. This world view includes the various forms of personal freedoms and human rights, including civil rights, peace, social justice, and equal rights for women. At the more personal level, COVR supports companies that emphasize creativity and personal growth, and generally hold in high regard the concepts of integrity, altruism, self-actualization, optimism, spirituality, authenticity, wholistic oneness, and direct personal experience. Our marketplace exists for personal growth, to instill knowledge, to encourage harmony, for self-help, alternative health, spirituality, and meditation.  Our industry members provide uplifting products or services for higher awareness or holistic or green living.

COVR understands what our industry members need to be successful. We support their success by providing business education, hands-on advice, member discounts, and targeted networking. COVR offers a portfolio of benefits that provide practical and actionable value to each member.

Each year COVR gives Visionary Awards to entries selected from among the best products in the Mind Body Spirit industry. Our Visionary Awards are the only awards of their kind in our industry. Our retailers and bookstore owners are passionate about new products, the next best seller, and the next undiscovered gem; our awards program brings new offerings to their attention.

If you carry self-help books, books about meditation, or other types of product that support and salute the human spirit, please consider joining COVR.  Information about our organization and a link to become a member is located at Our lowest level of membership is free.

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.