Binc participates in CI5

The fifth American Booksellers Association ABC Children’s Institute provided Binc with the opportunity to connect with booksellers, publishers, store owners and authors.

The event featured a number of excellent panels and keynote speakers, including: Ilsa Govan, Jason Reynolds and Rachel Ignotofsky. Binc Board member and Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association Executive Director Deb Leonard provided a great summary in her organization’s most recent newsletter.

CI5 was an awesome experience- honestly, I was awestruck many times.  The authors were wonderful, the education was helpful and informative, but this year everything else was blown away by the speakers. 

The opening keynote was Ilsa Govan, author of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strategies for facilitating Conversations on Race by Rowman & Littlefield.  With just a few short exercises, Ms Govan showed us how to illustrate some innate biases that we all have.   Her program showed ways to talk about race, culture and gender in non-confrontational ways.  It was a knock out!

Jason Reynolds has been a winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Walter Dean Myers Award, winner of the Time Book of the Year and of the Kirkus Award, not to mention being a National Book Award Finalist. Jason is always highly entertaining, as well-as thought-provoking, and he was at his best here. If you ever have doubts about what a difference books can make in a child’s life, watch this program.

A conversation between Phillip and Erin Stead and their editor highlighted the journey from a scribbled note found buried in Mark Twain’s Files to the amazing The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine coming in September from Doubleday. The painstaking process of creating an illustrated book from a few notes from America’s best known author was daunting, but after hearing the Steads relate their efforts to bring this story to life, I am sure this will be a publishing event not to be forgotten.

Marley Dias is a 13-year-old black girl who was frustrated by not finding a single story in her school’s library that featured young black girls doing ordinary or even exciting things. Not one featuring a brainiac black girl astronaut with her trailblazing space poodle; not one with a fierce black girl fashion designer with her frisky Rottweiler on a rhinestone leash; not one about a black girl forensic anthropologist wither her inquisitive collie.  So, she decided that she would collect books with black girls as the main character. Not just a few books, but 1000 books! And she would give them away to places they were needed most. Marley started her campaign, and #1000BlackGirlBooks was born.  Marley was a featured speaker at White House United State of Women Summit, named “Coolest kid in America” by Ebony Magazine, selected by Teen Vogue as among the “10 amazing Black women who are changing the game”, and on and on.  Her book Marley Dias Gets it Done is coming from Scholastic this fall. This young lady should be on your radar!

The closing keynote speaker was Rachel Ignotofsky, author of Women in Science by Ten Speed Press. It was a fascinating talk about combining illustration and science literacy.  One of the most interesting details was that as she began the research for this book, Ms Ignotofsky expected that the reason there weren’t many well-known female scientists is because there weren’t many women who had opportunities to do become scientists.  To her (and our) great surprise, she found that there were hundreds in almost every discipline!  It was shocking, but not surprising that many, many women had achieved great success in many scientific endeavors, but that, because they were women, they had never been recognized. She intends to continue her search for unsung women with a book on Women in Sports coming this fall from Ten Speed.

Binc Scholarship recipient Kimberly Cake, of Enchanted Passage in Sutton Massachusetts was among the panelists included in a discussion on making a store more accessible for patrons and staff with disabilities. You can read more about it in Shelf Awareness.

Binc scholarship winner Kimberly Cake discusses creating an inclusive environment for patrons and staff with disabilities.
Binc scholarship winner Kimberly Cake discusses creating an inclusive environment for patrons and staff with disabilities.

Cake wasn’t the only Binc scholarship winner to make some waves in Portland. Sue Roegge of Chapter2Books participated in the question-and-answer portion of the presentation by Marley Dias on the need for diversity in school libraries and her #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.

Sue Roegge, of Chapter2Books, asks a question during a presentation by Marley Dias. (Binc photo/Adam Gac)
Sue Roegge, of Chapter2Books, asks a question during a presentation by Marley Dias. (Binc photo/Adam Gac)

Between panels and keynote speakers, CI participants stopped by the Binc Foundation consultation station. Representatives from bookstores, other nonprofits, publishers and more visited with Executive Director Pam French to talk about the importance of our safety net for booksellers.



“As a first-time attendee, the energy and enthusiasm at Children’s Institute were inspiring!” French said. “I loved everything from the keynote presentations to the author reception to meeting booksellers and authors. This was the perfect place to let booksellers know about Binc and how the Foundation can help out when life doesn’t go as planned.”

The event was a sink-or-swim test for new Communication Coordinator Adam Gac, who was promptly overwhelmed by the incredible positivity of the children’s book industry professionals.

“Everyone was so excited to be there and to grow together. Even though I’m still new to the job, long-time Binc supporters and former grant recipients made me feel like I was part of the family,” Gac said.

Why don’t you apply?

Tim Smith, General Manager of Schuler Books, stopped by the Binc offices to meet with (from left) Kathy, Pam and Kit.
Tim Smith, General Manager of Schuler Books, stopped by the Binc offices to meet with (from left) Kathy, Pam and Kit. Binc is always willing to meet with booksellers, store owners and other book industry representatives to discuss our programming.

A letter to Booksellers,

Some of the results from our recent bookseller survey both surprised and saddened us. While 31% of you said you had been in a position of needing emergency assistance in the past two years, only 7.6% of you applied to Binc for help. Our goal has always been to have every bookseller in need look to Binc for assistance. We want you all to Think Binc first when you need help. We know we have a long way to go to reach that goal, and only when each and every booksellers reaches out to Binc first will we have succeeded. To help reach that goal, we need to clear up some common misconceptions about the Foundation.

Here are the reasons booksellers gave for not applying to Binc, and why those reasons shouldn’t deter you.

“I wasn’t aware Binc existed.”
We are working hard to reach each and every bookseller across the country. With the help of the ABA, the regional bookseller associations, Ingram, edelweiss, Shelf Awareness, Publishers Weekly, industry leaders, bookstore owners & managers and booksellers, we have made great strides. But clearly we have farther to go. You can help as well; when you visit bookstores be sure to tell the bookstore employees about Binc. Remind them to ThinkBinc!

“I didn’t think I’d qualify.”
We want every bookseller with a need to call us. Often when a you think you won’t qualify, you do. Give us a chance to talk about your challenge and see how Binc can help. We can’t always give a financial grant, but we promise to not leave you without resources to help you through your situation.

“I was afraid others would find out.”
We pride ourselves on confidential and compassionate service. You can call Binc toll free at 866-733-9064 or email us at, apply, receive assistance and no one outside Binc will ever know. We never reveal the names of any of our grant recipients without their full and enthusiastic approval.

“I was too embarrassed to ask for assistance.”
Binc isn’t here to judge, we are here to help. Needing a helping hand shouldn’t be embarrassing, we all need a little help now and then. Binc wants to help at the first sign of the hardship, saving you months of potential stress over how to pay your bills.

“It seemed like too much paperwork.”
We try to simplify the application process, asking for only the documents we are legally required to collect. We have streamlined our application as much as possible. We want the process to be easy and not to create more stress for you.

“The whole process was confusing.”
We know that the stress of a financial hardship can be overwhelming. Call us and we can walk you through the steps to apply. Don’t let temporary confusion lead to an overwhelming debt burden in the future.

“I figured there was somebody else who might have a bigger need.”
If you are having trouble paying your bills, then there is no one with a bigger need. We are constantly working to raise funds from industry supporters to make sure that there will always be enough money to cover bookseller’s needs, big or small. Also, we know that helping someone with a small need today can prevent it from turning into a larger need down the road.

“I’m a bookstore owner, not an employee.”
If you make your living from the bookstore, whether owner or employee, then you are eligible. Owners can have needs that are just as great as their employees. Often, helping an owner overcome personal financial hardships is what allows the bookstore to remain open, and therefore keeping other bookselling jobs.

“My bookstore closed, so I wasn’t eligible.”
Binc can now help employees who qualify for up to 12 months after the closing of the bookstore.

“I received enough support through other channels.”
OK, this may be the only answer that is acceptable. But for those who don’t have other alternatives, ThinkBinc!

If this letter has any effect, we hope it is to encourage you and your fellow booksellers to call us. We only exist to help booksellers through whatever life throws at you. Whether we help by paying your bills, provide you with additional resources in your area, help you mediate medical bills, or combination of all three, we promise to do all we can to help you get through the difficulty you are facing.

Remember, there is a 100% chance we won’t help if you don’t contact us!


The Binc Team

Booksellers tell what Binc means to them

These booksellers are proud to support the Binc Foundation and the work we do to provide assistance to bookstore employees in need. Thanks to all the booksellers that appear in this video for their support of the Foundation and for helping us to spread the word!

This post is a reprint of Binc’s dedicated Shelf Awareness Issue from March 30, 2016. To learn more about the Binc Foundation and how we help booksellers you can read the full article, here.

Ken White Tells Why Binc’s Help is Essential to Booksellers

Ken White
Ken White, Binc board member and founder of Query Books

We know the profit margin on books is slim. Our bookish world is teeming with smart, talented, independent people who could be making twice as much money somewhere else. But we don’t, because there’s something soul-less about selling stuff you don’t care about. We are purveyors of culture, and that’s as glamorous as being a movie star…minus, of course, the ball gowns and limousines.

So what happens when that glamorous but limousine-less bookseller runs into unexpected financial crisis? From, say, catastrophic hospital bills after a necessary procedure, or escaping an abusive domestic situation? If a bookseller has been living paycheck-to-paycheck, as many of us have done, there might not be much savings in the bank to pay that off. They may be forced into a situation where they have no resources to pay the bills and get back on their feet. That’s where Binc can lend a hand.

Binc Helps a Fellow Bookseller

I’ll give an example from one of my early experiences working with Binc. A bookseller (whose identity is known only by two people on staff) missed a few days of work due to a heart attack. Yes, a heart attack. And that bookseller, God bless ‘em, was already back at work a few days later. Between the medical bills and lost income, they were having trouble paying other important bills. Binc was able to step in, get their bills paid, and protect them from further hardship caused by the emergency. I’m proud of this bookseller who soldiered on, and I’m proud of Binc for helping a bookseller pay their bills during a rough spell.

In fact, Binc gave away nearly $55,000 in financial assistance grants in 2015. Binc also gave away over $220,000 in scholarship money for professional development and higher education, some of that for college tuition, and also a number of scholarships to book industry trade events.

No matter our background, there may come a day for any of us when we have to struggle to stay in the business we love. Sometimes a little help is all it takes to sustain a life in books. That’s why I love Binc; it’s the safety net for booksellers.

Many thanks to Binc board member, Diversity Task Force champion, and Query Books founder, Ken White, for sharing why he feels Binc is essential to the well-being of booksellers across the country.

Reps to the Rescue

Meg and Kate
Meg Sherman and Kate McCune – Binc’s SUPER-REPS!

Two sales reps have been a major help in spreading the word about Binc to bookseller accounts and are now encouraging other reps to do so, too.

Kate McCune


HarperCollins field rep Kate McCune worked in bookselling before joining the publisher 14 years ago. “I spent so many years being a bookseller and working with booksellers that I know a lot of people don’t have a cushion,” she said.

McCune, who is also a Binc board member, initially heard about Binc at trade shows. “My kinship to booksellers kind of made me predisposed to work with Binc,” explained McCune. She also felt that it was critical to support independent booksellers. “This channel is hugely important,” she said. “I think it’s crucial that we’re there to just help people have the lives they want to have and not have it go off the rails. It feels like a no-brainer to help out on that front.”

In 2014, McCune and Kit Steinaway put together small, one-sheet kits for sales reps to take on calls. The idea, McCune explained, is for a sales rep to talk about Binc for just 30 seconds to a minute and leave behind some literature. McCune has found that a low-tech, face-to-face method, which she called the “pony express way,” seems to be best for spreading information about Binc among both booksellers and sales reps.

Meg Sherman

Meg video image
Meg Sherman (along with many other bookfolk), in a Binc video of support.

Likewise, Meg Sherman, a sales rep at Norton, who was an independent bookseller for 13 years, is a major advocate for Binc. “Strong booksellers need stronger bookstores need a stronger book industry,” she said.

“When booksellers aren’t able to come to work because of things going on in their lives, when they’re worried about how to pay their bills, they might leave [the industry] to take another job that they’d rather not take,” she continued. “Anything we can do to help with that and keep those stores strong means a stronger industry and stronger communities.”

After a series of historic floods in Colorado in 2013, she took notice of Binc’s work. “They had worked with several booksellers at Boulder Book Store to help them in midst of the floods,” recalled Sherman. “It was so immediate that they got on my radar.”

Ever since, Sherman has been advocating for Binc. Sherman’s territory as a sales rep covers seven Western states, and while giving rep talks around the region she takes time to mention Binc and the sorts of things they do for booksellers. And if she hears about a struggling staff member while speaking with store owners, Sherman doesn’t hesitate to mention Binc. Sherman has also begun talking to other sales reps about advocating for Binc.

Sherman said has consistently been struck by Binc’s multi-faceted efforts, which include providing grants to offset bills, advocating on behalf of booksellers while dealing with hospitals, insurance companies and similar institutions, and providing scholarships to booksellers to attend regional and national trade shows. “It really impresses me.”

We want to thank Kate and Meg for their support of the Foundation and for all they have done to get the word our about our mission and programs. They are truly our Binc SUPER-REPS!

This post is a reprint of Binc’s dedicated Shelf Awareness Issue from March 30, 2016. To learn more about the Binc Foundation and how we help booksellers you can read the full article, here.

Binc Welcomes Julia Cowlishaw to the Board of Directors

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The Binc Foundation is pleased to welcome Julia Cowlishaw, Director of National Accounts at Ingram Content Group, to the board of directors. Julia brings her experience in many aspects of the book industry to the board. Growing up in California, she got her start in bookselling at Warwick’s in La Jolla while earning a degree in Printmaking at California State University – Long Beach. Julia’s career progressed as she moved to Ann Arbor, MI and started working at Shaman Drum Bookshop, eventually becoming the general manager. Under the mentorship of Karl Pohrt she learned the ropes of the larger world of the book industry before moving back to California to work as a sales rep for Ingram Content Group.

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Chuck Robinson is Ready to Ride

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Binc is thrilled to be mentioned in the bookselling industry newsletter Shelf Awareness today, in relation to bookseller Chuck Robinson’s 2,400 mile fundraising bike ride across the country to attend his 50th high school reunion. He is generously pledging $1 per mile to Binc as a fundraiser during his ride. You can make a pledge to Binc on Chuck’s 2,400 Mile Fundraiser Page.

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