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.

Domestic Abuse: It Isn’t Always a Spouse or Romantic Partner

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.

The Anatomy of Financial Assistance Grant

How does the process work? That is always one of the first questions we hear from booksellers, and one we are happy to answer over and over again. Our goal is to make asking for help as easy as possible, always keeping in mind the physical and emotional state of the bookseller who is reaching out to Binc.

“We are so very grateful for the kindness and empathy Binc extended to us.”

When requesting assistance from Binc, here is what to expect:

1) A bookseller who has experienced an unexpected event causing them to be unable to pay household bills begins the process in one of two ways:

a) Downloading an application from Binc’s website and submitting it to, faxing it to 734-477-2806, or sending it by mail.

b) Contacting Binc via phone (866-733-9064) or email (

2) Binc’s Programs Manager Kit or Kate our Communications Coordinator will contact the applicant to answer questions and to request any additional information or supporting documents that are needed. We understand and respect that the bookseller is going through a very personal experience and we strive to always be compassionate and caring.

“I was embarrassed about my situation, but Kit completely understood and never made me feel bad about myself. I cannot thank Kit and the Binc community enough for their assistance.”

3) The Applicant submits documents to verify the specific event and the need. (i.e. pay stub, bank statement, doctor bills, lease) Binc requests only the minimum number of documents needed to verify the request.

4) A blind summary (no names or locations are included) of the situation and the request is written up and submitted to the Binc Program Committee for approval. The volunteer committee members have 24 hours to respond to the request.

5) After the request has been approved, Binc will contact the bookseller to arrange for payment of the bills. Typically bills are paid to vendors on the bookseller’s behalf and not to the bookseller directly.

“I contacted them and was amazed with the kind and quick responsiveness of their team. Once I provided all the information they needed in order to examine the situation and determine whether they could help, the swiftness of their response seemed almost immediate.”

6) Once the bills are paid the bookseller will be notified and given all relevant confirmation and/or tracking numbers related to payments.

7) Binc will supply the bookseller with the contact information for national and local resources meant to help augment the assistance received from the Foundation.

Your privacy is very important to Binc. All requests and all information collected is kept in strict confidence. The Executive Director and Programs Manager are the only people who know the identity of applicants. Binc will never divulge the identity of an applicant without their express permission.

“Don’t ever hesitate to pick up the phone after an unexpected whammy and call them. They want to help. They are there to help and they can help.”

Take Steps Now to Prevent Utility Shut-off

In August, when the summer sun is scorching, it seems strange to be thinking about heating your home. But the reality is that actions not taken in the summer can negatively impact you as the weather turns cold. When people struggle with utility bills, the thought is sometimes to let it slide. After all, you don’t need heat in the summer. This can end up being a very costly mistake.

All states have guidelines for utility companies, preventing them from turning off power in cold weather. That is good news and ensures that a family’s power can’t be shut off in sub-zero temps and create a life-threatening situation. To compensate for these laws the utility companies have been known to aggressively use their shut-off capabilities in the months preceding cold weather. If your utilities are shut-off, it will cost you, as fines and reconnect fees are added to the amount of the overdue bill.  If you are behind on your utility bills, you could be putting yourself in jeopardy of a utility shut-off.

Don’t ignore overdue utility bills. If you are having trouble with your bills, you have options.

  • Contact your provider to:
    • Try to work out a plan.
    • See if you can get on a monthly plan that averages your annual cost into uniform monthly payments.
    • Ask about utility conservation assistance programs to help you reduce your usage.
  • LIHEAP  has funds available for those households that meet their guideline.
  • Contact the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) project at 866-674-6327 or
  • Your state may have an assistance program

If you qualify for one of these programs, you’ll be able to get future bills reduced—and may be able to spread out payments on past bills.

If you have tried these resources and still are threatened with a utility shut-off, contact Binc and we may be able to help get you back on track.

Bed bugs. Just the thought is enough to make anyone squirm.

Recently, a bookseller spent months trying to rid their apartment of bedbugs, only to have them return – over and over again. Their whole building was infested. All appeals to the landlord were dismissed. The bookseller’s only recourse was to move out, but they lacked the funds to do so. With their security deposit tied up as they tried to break their lease, and having to continue to pay rent and live in the infested apartment, they didn’t see a way out.

But their bookstore had a Binc poster prominently displayed and the bookseller made the call for help. Because of supporters like you, Binc was able to pay the move-in expenses for a new apartment, providing this bookseller with a safe and healthy home.

Bed bugs know no social or economic bounds and they can set up residence in any home. The sources are numerous – they can be picked up while traveling, brought in aboard furniture, even travel from a neighboring apartment. However they arrive, and wherever they land, the process of ridding your home of them can be grueling.

Residents can take some steps to control an infestation.

  • Find where they are hiding, not just in mattresses and overstuffed furniture. Look along baseboards, hard furnishings, and any dark hidden area.
  • Vacuum carefully and remove the vacuum bag and contents immediately.
  • Steam clean furniture and other surfaces.
  • Put mattress and box springs into a bed bug proof cover.
  • Wash all cloth items in hot water or put in the drier for at least 20 minutes.
  • Notify your landlord immediately.

Most landlords, not wanting bed bugs to spread, will help eradicate the pests. They should work with you to help correct the problem and prevent the spread. They should arrange for professional pest control if necessary. With quick action, the infestation can be minimized.

Nationally the incidents of bed bug infestations are rising (no one seems to know exactly why) and as a result, Binc has received an increased number of requests for assistance from booksellers battling them. The help Binc has provided ranged from helping with eradication costs to assistance for a bookseller to move out of a chronically infested building.

More information on how to prevent bed bug encounters and more about the treatment can be found through the EPA, Texas A&M University, and National Apartment Association.

If you are unlucky enough to find yourself living with bed bugs, give Binc a call.