How Binc can help prevent homelessness

‘Homelessness is something that only happens to other people. It couldn’t possibly happen to me.’

Most of us can’t imagine being homeless. But the reality is that it is a common occurrence, taking place all around us, to people we may work with or cross paths with every day.

In one recent case, the single-parent bookseller was forced to move out of their apartment when the building was sold. They had been renting the apartment for years and in the ensuing time, rents had shot up in the surrounding area. Their rent almost doubled in the new apartment. While the bookseller would be able to cover the rent going forward, the expenses of moving and deposits put their ability to keep this new home in jeopardy. With the payment of a month’s rent and utilities, Binc was able to help stabilize the family’s finances and get them on a steady course to enjoying their new home.


Of the applications coming in to Binc, Homelessness Prevention is the primary or secondary qualifying event in at least half of the requests. These requests come from booksellers who were comfortably and securely housed until an unexpected emergency put them in peril. These booksellers may not have been rich, but they were able to make ends meet, until “the event” happened. “The event” takes many shapes; a medical emergency, natural disaster, temporary loss of household income, divorce or death in the family. The only thing these events have in common is that they are unexpected and they cause an enormous financial burden to the bookseller.

The requests for homeless prevention grants to Binc isn’t unexpected, the numbers of homeless families continues to rise across the country.  As the housing market gets tighter and more expensive more renters living in affordable housing become vulnerable. This is especially prevalent in areas like Northern California and Houston, where natural disasters have decreased the number of homes available.  A reduction in the number of rentable units and an increase in monthly rents create the perfect storm, squeezing booksellers from their homes. When this happens, finding another rental unit is not always easy and when found can eat up the majority of each paycheck.

For an insightful look at homelessness issues in America I recommend reading Evicted by Matthew Desmond. After reading the stories in his book, you will see homelessness in a whole new light.

In addition to the stress and worry about losing their homes, this population faces many other related challenges. Try to imagine recovering from an illness, managing a chronic disease, or putting your life back together after a divorce with no secure home to go to at the end of each day.

Desmond points out the symbiotic relationship between job loss and eviction. Losing one’s job certainly can lead to eviction, but the opposite is also true. Eviction can lead to job loss, as the individual misses work (for lack of regular routine or searching for a new home) and the stress causes distraction at work.

“A good home can serve as sturdiest of footholds. When people have a place to live, they become better parents, workers, and citizens.” writes Desmond.

For booksellers experiencing or facing homelessness, the Binc Foundation can be a life line. Since we see booksellers experiencing one-time unexpected events causing their short-term crisis, many of our applicants don’t qualify for government assistance. Even if they did, government assistance comes slowly, with piles of paperwork and long delays. This system is not effective for preventing homelessness. By the time the bureaucratic maze has been navigated the applicant has already been evicted.  The booksellers who apply to Binc need quick action with a one-time hand up to get them back on their feet. Because Binc is small and nimble, we can turn a grant request into a check in the mail in as few as 24 hours, quickly enough to prevent evictions. If we are successful in this endeavor, then Binc’s one-time grant can prevent long term hardships for the family.

Our goal at Binc is to prevent a bookseller from becoming homeless, or getting them into a new residence as quickly as possible if they have lost their home. Last year with the help of our generous donors we were able to help xx booksellers avoid becoming a statistic. Once they have a secure and stable home they are free to heal, to thrive, and to continue the job they love . . . selling books.

If you are a bookseller experiencing financial difficulties, please reach out to Binc by phone 866-733-9064 or email Check out the Resource Page on our website for additional sources of help.


Calling all book-loving celebrities!

ANN ARBOR – Authors and illustrators are uniting to help booksellers across the country during the return of the Bank on Booksellers Piggy Bank Auction. The auction will take place online with nationwide bidding beginning on Sunday, September 9 and closing at 8:00 pm on Saturday, September 15.

In 2016, the team at Parnassus Books came together to create a unique way to support one of their fellow employees who had been diagnosed with a serious illness. The Parnassus employees used their connections to the book industry to recruit a host of celebrity piggy bank decorators for the first Bank on Booksellers. The proceeds were used to help booksellers across the country.

“Not every bookseller facing a serious medical situation can get a whole bunch of pigs together to help them out, but every bookseller has the Binc Foundation,” said Parnassus co-owner and Binc Ambassador Ann Patchett.

This year, the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation is hoping to follow up on the 2016 Bank on Booksellers auction. The goal is to raise $25,000 according to Binc Executive Director Pam French.

“The response to the first Bank on Booksellers was stunning,” French said. “We were overwhelmed at the support the auction received from the book industry, celebrities and everyone who bid. We hope the 2018 Bank on Booksellers will be just as great an opportunity for the people who care about booksellers to show their love.”

Binc is still looking for celebrities to sign up to decorate a piggy bank which will be auctioned off to support the bookseller’s safety net. Anyone interested in signing up to decorate a pig for the auction or who would like to connect us with an illustrator or celebrity should contact Binc at

“We’ve had a number of generous authors and illustrators volunteer their time to decorate piggy banks, but there are plenty of mini-masterpieces left to be painted,” French said. “We’re hoping our friends at bookstores across the country will help us reach more pig-decorators.”

Binc is incredibly grateful to the authors who make up their roster of piggy bank creators. The current list of participating authors includes:

R.W. Alley

Lucie Amundsen

Katherine Applegate

Kevan Atteberry

Vita Ayala

Leigh Bardugo

Mac Barnett

Andrea Beaty

Jeanne Birdsall

Holly Black

Judy Blume

Sandra Boynton

Daniel James Brown

Marc Brown

Kimberly Bradley Brubaker

Dennis Calero

Carol Cassella

R.Gregory Christie

Chelsea Clinton

Kate DiCamillo

Anthony Doerr

Louise Erdrich

Jonathan Evison

Denise Flemming

Angela Flournoy

Veronica (Ronnie) Garcia,

Robin Preiss Glasser

Natalie Goldberg

Alan Gratz

John Grisham

Mike Gustafson

Kristin Hannah

Shawn Harris

John (Colo Gov) Hickenlooper

Tad Hills

Alice Hoffman

Erin Hunting

Governor Islee

A.J. Jacobs

Stephanie Kallos

Sylvie Kantororitz

Barbara Kingsolver

Jeff Kinney

Nina Laden

Barbara Lehman

Lillian Li

Tom Lichtenheld

Grace Lin

Laura Lippman

Jim Lynch

Gregory Maguire

Gianna Marina

Barbara McClintock

Yuyi Morales

Celeste Ng

Lori Nichols

Laura Numeroff

Kim & Brad Paisley

Julie Paschkis

Ann Patchett

James Patterson

Jacques Pepin

Matt Phelan

Tiemdow Phumiruk

Chris Raschka

Brandon Reese

Brendan Reichs

Jason Reynolds

Tom Robbins

Deborah Roberts & Al Roker

Steven Savage

Judy Schachner

Ian Schoenherr

Jon Scieszka

David Shannon

Jennie Shortridge

Jess Smart Smiley

Laurel Snyder

Phil & Erin Stead

Garth  Stein

Amy Stewart,

Emma Straub

Cheryl Strayed

Don Tate

Angie Thomas

Brenna Thummler

Jen Vaughan

Tom Watson

Lauren Weisberger

Don & Audrey Wood

Carla Gray Scholarship for Bookseller-Activists Launches


Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship to Cultivate Emerging Bookstore Activists

ANN ARBOR – The Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation and the Friends of Carla Gray committee are pleased to announce the launch of a new scholarship designed to help one early-career bookseller learn more about the trade and to reinforce the ties between their store and the community. The scholarship was created thanks to the efforts of a close-knit group of friends and publishing professionals honoring their friend and book industry hero, Carla Gray.

The Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists is unlike any other scholarship the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation has ever offered. This year-long professional development scholarship is intended to help a bookseller with fewer than five years of experience connect with other booksellers, publishers, and authors and establish the kind of long-term relationships that keep the book industry thriving. The scholarship includes funds to attend Winter Institute 2019 and one of the 2019 fall regional trade shows. The bookseller will also be granted funding to support a community outreach project of their own creation.

This scholarship would not have been possible without the direction of Hannah Harlow, Jenna Johnson and MaryBeth Long.  Harlow, Johnson and Long, self-described “friends of the extraordinary Carla Gray,” formed the Friends of Carla Gray committee and, over the past year, worked with supporters across the book industry to raise the funds necessary to establish the scholarship. They are continuing their efforts with a fundraising event timed for Book Expo, on May 31, 2018. Details about the fundraiser can be found here.

“Carla’s career ranged across many aspects of our industry,” the committee said. “But in every incarnation she was devoted to getting the right book into the ideal readers’ hands. She was also endlessly optimistic about the publishing community and wanted to see it grow in interesting ways. She knew it was up to individuals to keep the books at the center of the work and to take care of each other personally and professionally.”

One of the things the committee is most passionate about is seeing how the winner will use the grant to further connect a store with its community.

“We want to help emerging booksellers find early opportunities to build a network in the industry, but we also want to help them create innovative, long-term projects that remind readers how central their stores are to the towns and cities they serve,” the committee said. “We’re hopeful that this scholarship will be able to supplement the extraordinary peer mentoring and community outreach that’s already a hallmark of the bookstore ethos. And that it will encourage new booksellers to step forward and share their talents and vision.”

Binc is honored to connect a bookseller new to the industry with the learning opportunities and lasting relationships that Winter Institute and regional trade shows offer, according to the Foundation’s executive director Pamela French.

“This is a truly unique year-long opportunity that will help forge our next generation of bookseller-activists. We are grateful for all the people who made this possible.” she said. “We were especially thrilled to work with the Friends of Carla Gray, their passion for the book industry and Carla’s legacy should be commended.”

Applications will open on July 9, 2018 and run through August 9, 2018. The inaugural review committee will include the founders as well as author Justin Torres, Kate Layte from Papercuts JP, Michael Taeckens of Broadside Expert Literary PR, and one representative from the Binc Foundation’s program committee. The first Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship will be awarded in 2019.

Thanks for a great BookExpo 2018!

We had a tremendous and productive time in New York for BookExpo 2018.

We got to see so many wonderful book industry friends. Booksellers, authors, publishers, agents and more. We even got to meet our friends from HumbleBundle who recently partnered with Chronicle Book for a bundle to support Binc!

Kathy and Pam met with Kelley from Humble Bundle, one of our latest partners in helping booksellers

This was our first year hosting Drinks With Binc on-site during BookExpo and it was incredible! Thanks to our friends at BookExpo and Baker and Taylor and the Javits Center we had a great view.

But the view was nothing compared to seeing a comprehensive slice of the book industry brought together by a common cause: protecting the bookseller’s safety net!


Lessening the Impact of Job Loss


Almost half (47 percent) of adults say the loss of their primary income means money to support their lifestyle will run out in less than three months, according to an MDRT survey of more than 2,000 adults earlier this year. That’s far less than the average length of time people typically spend trying to find a job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, as of September 2017, the average length of unemployment is 26.8 weeks.

These statistics appeared in U.S. News last fall. While some readers may be startled by these facts, we at Binc know them to be true. The real-life dramas that play out when the breadwinner in a family loses their job are the reason that the Binc Foundation added a qualifying event for Loss of Household Income due to Spouse or Partner Job Loss. Binc may be able to help when a bookseller’s spouse or partner is in this situation and the family finds themselves unable to meet their essential household expenses. A temporary job loss should not derail the family’s finances for years to come, and that is what can easily happen without some supportive assistance.

Take for instance the bookseller in Texas whose household income decreased by nearly 50% when his wife’s job position was eliminated. She had been with the company for more than 15 years and had no warning that a company downsizing would leave her out of work. With a new baby in the home, there was little savings to fall back on while she looked for another position. Luckily a co-worker encouraged the bookseller to contact Binc. The Foundation was able to step in and help the family with expenses, thereby easing the transition for them.

In another case, the husband of a bookseller from Illinois was involved in a serious automobile accident. His injuries were such that he would be unable to return to work for several months. While the family was able to make ends meets before the accident, there was no way they could manage without the husband’s income. There was the possibility of an insurance settlement, but that too would be months away. In the meantime, rent and utilities needed to be kept current. Binc was able to step in and pay several months of rent and utilities to stave off eviction and keep the heat and lights on for the family.

Many of our donors tell us they donate because “you never know what the future may bring”.  In truth, anyone could find themselves without a job, through no fault of their own. Looking for a new job is stressful enough without adding the worry of how you will pay the household bills. Because of the donations from booksellers, bookstores, authors, publishers and distributors, Binc is able to provide a safety net for just this type of unanticipated emergency. The Binc Foundation feels that while the loss of an income in a household may cause a temporary bump in a household’s finances, it should not create a financial calamity from which the family cannot recover.

If you are a bookseller and have experienced a loss of household income (other than your own bookstore income), or know a bookseller facing this type of event, we urge you to contact Binc. The Foundation is ready to help