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.

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.”

Bookseller Stories // Vol. 5 // August ’19

There are times in life when it seems that everything is going wrong at once. Or that the universe is conspiring against you. The good news is, because of you, during these hard moments when it feels like there is nowhere to turn and the unexpected pile-on of bad news feels unending, Binc is here and ready to help.

A bookseller recently suffered a stroke which seemed to unleash an unending string of misfortune and hardship. While recovering from the stroke, their spouse lost their job. A beloved sibling passed away requiring out-of-state travel and weeks off of work. A change in their spouse’s health resulted in the resurfacing of an old illness. The bookseller fell, and their injury required surgery. Their spouse’s mother was recently admitted into hospice care, so the family is preparing for the possibility of the need to travel and arrange another funeral this year.

Even with health insurance, worker’s compensation, an understanding employer, and a small savings account, this bookseller and their family have been completely wiped out, emotionally, physically, and financially.

When a bookseller hits a string of misfortune like this, you give the gift of relief and breathing space during extraordinarily difficult times. Because of generous supporters like you, this bookseller will be able to take care of their immediate needs, build back up their savings that much more quickly, and take a deep breath. We are hopeful that their string of unfortunate events has come to an end, and this bookseller and their family can begin to recover.

P.S. We never want anyone to compare their need to anyone else’s and we never want people to not call Binc for help because “someone else needs it more”. Thankfully, today, it is not a matter of helping one bookseller and not another. Due to the generosity of supporters like you, we can help every qualifying bookseller who comes to us for help.

“Bad things happen to people no matter what the situation is, so that’s what I tell people: use the help that is offered.”—A Bookseller Helped by our Donors

Bookseller Stories // vol. 4 // July ’19

The helpline continues to ring and emails are coming in every day from booksellers who are on the edge of crisis. Disaster season is here and with it comes earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. But not every natural disaster is a weather-related event. Some can be as tiny as a bed bug. The good news is, because of you, Binc is here and ready to help.

Bed bugs. Just the thought is enough to make you itch and squirm. They can be picked up while traveling, brought in on-board used furniture, come hidden in purchased goods, or even travel from a neighboring apartment. These critters know no social or economic bounds and can set up residence in any home. However they arrive, the process of ridding them from your home is grueling and expensive.

A bookseller recently experienced such an infestation. They got rid of all of their upholstered furniture, replaced their mattress and treated all of their belongings, to no avail. The bookseller spent months trying to rid their apartment of the bugs, only to have them return – over and over again. It turned out that the whole building was infested. All appeals to the landlord were dismissed. The landlord refused to offer any assistance, stating that it was a “housekeeping problem” not a “building maintenance” issue.

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 you, Binc was able to help the bookseller pay the move-in expenses for a new apartment where they can get back to a bedbug-free life.

Bookseller Stories // vol. 3 // June ’19

It has been an extremely busy few weeks at the Binc Foundation. Many more requests are coming in this year than this time last year, and the need for funds is also higher – and disaster season hasn’t even gotten started. The helpline is ringing and emails are coming in every day from booksellers who are on the edge of crisis. The good news is, because of you, Binc is here and ready to help get these booksellers through some of the most difficult times in their lives.

Early spring in the upper Midwest is no time to be without heat when temperatures continue to dip to near freezing in early May. This is exactly what a bookseller faced last month. After a roommate moved away unexpectedly, the bookseller tried to manage household expenses on their own but fell behind on their utility bills. When there isn’t enough money to go around, difficult choices must be made and people find themselves choosing between medicine, shelter, food, or utilities. In spite of taking on additional work hours and a second job, they could not make up the entire balance owed to the utility company and shut-off was threatened as the bills piled up.

Most states have laws and regulations in place that determine when an electric, gas, water, or utility company may disconnect a customer’s service. States regulate when a utility company can turn off the heat in the cold winter months and turn off electricity during the hot summer. These regulations vary by state but usually prohibit gas shut-off from November to March. One effect of these regulations is a flood of shut-off notices in the fall and the spring of each year leaving people without the ability to heat and cool their homes, keep their food from spoiling in the fridge, and use their ovens and stoves to cook meals.

This is exactly the situation that a bookseller faced. They put their limited income towards rent and groceries and were working hard to find a solution when they were convinced by a thoughtful co-worker and friend to call Binc for help. Because of your donations and support, we could pay the $700 balance to keep the natural gas on for this hard-working bookseller. Because of you, this bookseller could keep warm on freezing early spring nights. Having this bill paid not only gave them warmth, but also the breathing room to figure out their next steps.