The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) works so hard to strengthen the bookselling community. With so many people affected by natural disasters such as 2018’s Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence, as well as various other emergency circumstances, BINC is able to act as the safety net for these booksellers and their families that are affected. Since the start of BINC, they have provided more than $6.6 million in financial assistance and scholarships to more than 7,476 families. We recently spoke with Kate Weiss, BINC’s Communications Coordinator, to find out details of how they were able to make an impact in 2018. Keep reading to hear more!Q) What does the past year looked like for BINC? Tell us about a few of your wins.
A) Our donors helped Binc reach 140 people last year, with grants going to seventy-three booksellers and their families. Five bookstores were helped through natural disasters including Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. We awarded twenty-seven higher education scholarships and twenty-eight professional development scholarships and launched a new scholarship program called the Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists.Q) What does 2019 look like for Binc?
A) This year we have already received double the number of assistance requests when compared to this same time period last year. So, we know the need for financial assistance is growing and we are preparing for a busy 2019 and 2020. We also have some exciting new partnerships in the works that we hope to be announcing later in the year.Q) With the rise of social media and digital’s influence increasing throughout the years, how has BINC been affected? Tell us about some of the positives and negatives.
A) We rely on social media to help us get in touch with stores after a disaster. After the earthquake in Alaska last year, we quickly got in touch with all the local indie bookstores through Facebook. When stores might be closed, and phone lines down, social media helps us connect with stores and booksellers who might need our help. We also hear about booksellers who need assistance through different industry Facebook groups. This community is always looking out for one another. We also love seeing how creative our partners can be to help spread the word about BINC on social media. Ingram’s Twelve Days of Giving is a great example of how social media can be used for good.Q) How would you describe working with BINC?
A) We’re truly a mission-driven organization and that mission is to provide a safety net for booksellers. I’ve been an indie bookseller for over a decade and know exactly how hard booksellers work and what it’s like to make ends meet on a bookseller’s salary. I’m so grateful to BINC’s board, staff, and for the original Borders employees who wanted to be there for an ill colleague—then later on for all those who made the choice to expand this amazing support to every bookseller. Organizations like BINC only exist through the dedication, hard work, and generosity of a community, and I’m so proud to be a part of BINC and this community and to be doing this work to support my fellow booksellers.
Q)What has been the most rewarding feedback you’ve received from a bookseller this year?
A) I know this might sound corny but being in a position where we can help is rewarding every single time we help someone. So often people are told there is nothing to be done or they feel like they have no one to turn to when something catastrophic happens in their lives that they can’t afford. So, when we say that we can pay that utility bill, so you can turn the lights on tomorrow, or we can pay that awful landlord, so you can get the heck out of a bad situation, it’s an incredible feeling to be able to provide that kind of relief and help for someone.
One of my favorite stories from last year though is from Hawaii. Because of our store disaster recovery program, the small town of Hilo didn’t lose its local bookstore after Hurricane Lane. Keeping bookstores in their communities that otherwise would have lost them is one of the most rewarding things I can think of.
Join BINC this month as they #ShareTheGood! Your donation in April will help sustain booksellers' safety net.