Results of the 2019 Survey



Date: 11/13/2019

Pam French
Executive Director

Early in the spring, Binc conducted its third industry-wide survey. A record total of 696 respondents representing a wide cross-section of the bookselling industry participated.

This snapshot of the industry and supporters of the Foundation provides the Binc board and staff with concrete data to rate the Foundation’s performance and relevance and to collect suggestions for addressing booksellers’ current needs and desires for their foundation.

The overall goals for the survey were to gather information on booksellers’ current level of awareness of the Foundation’s services, rate program performance and relevance, and to solicit suggestions for new programs.

On the importance of the data the Foundation receives from the survey, Executive Director Pam French said, “Binc is here to serve booksellers, and with the feedback we received from booksellers and industry professionals through this survey, we are better equipped to act on our mission—which is providing a financial safety net for bookstore employees. We cannot overstate how much we value the feedback we receive, and we have been heartened to learn that awareness of our financial assistance programs continues to grow and that the Foundation is more valued than ever before. But the survey also shows there is still work for us to do. There are currently booksellers in crisis who are not coming to Binc when they need help, and our mission is to reach every qualifying bookseller in the country with assistance. We are also hard at work putting together new pilot programs to address grief counseling and financial literacy. These new programs are based directly on survey responses and what booksellers tell us they want and need.”

Key Findings 2019 Survey:

  1. Awareness of Binc and the services the Foundation provides to booksellers continues its trajectory of growth across the industry. Only 16% of survey respondents were “not at all familiar with Binc” this year, compared with 28% of respondents in 2016, and 38% in 2014.
  2. Binc is more valued today than in previous years when the survey was conducted.
  3. Fellow booksellers and colleagues, Shelf Awareness, and the Regional Trade Associations are the leading ways booksellers find out about Binc’s financial assistance services and scholarship opportunities.

Emergency Assistance

  1. Self-reported need for financial assistance is 1 in 5 respondents, with 22% of respondents stating they had an emergency financial need in the last two years.
  2. Despite growth, less than half of booksellers who identified as needing assistance are applying to Binc.
  3. Booksellers who don’t apply are incorrectly assuming that their need is not great enough or their situation would not qualify.
  4. 100% of respondents who received assistance from Binc had a positive experience.


  1. 67% of survey respondents were frontline booksellers, managers, and bookstore owners.
  2. Shelf AwarenessPublishers Weekly, and Bookselling This Week were the top resources respondents relied on for general news about the bookselling industry.

Donations & Donors

  1. The biggest barrier to donating was that respondents didn’t have extra money after their bills are paid.
  2. 1 out of 3 respondents had supported the Foundation at some time.
  3. 91% of those who donated reported that financial assistance was the most important program to them (compared with scholarships and professional development).

Most importantly, the survey results showed that 1 in 5 booksellers have faced a financial emergency in the last two years, demonstrating that many booksellers are vulnerable during a financial emergency. The survey echoes nationwide findings that 1 in 4 Americans do not have access to $400 to cover an emergency need, making it difficult or impossible to quickly recover from unexpected life events like illness or accident. Problems that start off small (a missed utility bill due to limited income being funneled to a large medical bill) can quickly escalate out of control.

The Foundation is needed more now than ever and is having its busiest year assisting booksellers since 2011. The survey results demonstrate there is a need in the book industry for an industry-supported emergency financial safety net and that booksellers feel the effects of an emergency or disaster long after the initial emergency has passed.

The Foundation is now preparing for Giving Tuesday and is working with two of their valued partners, Penguin Random House and Ingram on their annual Year-End fundraising campaign. The Foundation continues to help booksellers affected by the California wildfires, power outages, and many other personal financial emergencies every day. Binc so far this year has seen a 38% increase in year-over-year approved grants as the need amongst booksellers and awareness of the Foundation’s services continue to grow.

Binc is very grateful for everyone who participated in the survey. These responses help steer the direction of the Foundation and serve booksellers today and into the future.

Categories: Press Release
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