Ingram Blog

12 Days of Giving: Strengthening our Bookselling Communities:

Tis' the season for giving! 
As the snow begins to fall, many are preparing for end-of-the-year festivities. Not only is this a time to prepare for future 2020 endeavors, but it is a season when people reach out to friends, family, and their community to give back.

During this giving season, we have teamed up with Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) to spread the holiday cheer to booksellers and readers around the country. Binc truly makes an impact for those in our industry, and helps booksellers and stores in times of unpredictable financial need.

Binc is the bookseller industry’s safety net, helping in times of need. As the individuals on the front lines of selling, they are essential to our industry and we couldn’t think of any better way to honor our clients than a donation to Binc on their behalf. 

For the 2nd year in a row, we are launching The 12 Days of Giving, Strengthening our Bookselling Communitiesas a way to recognize and share how booksellers not only impact the community, but the support they have for one another. 

 For 12 weekdays after Giving Tuesday (December 3rd- December 18th), we will spotlight the stories of individual booksellers who were positively impacted by Binc and the book community. 

A bookseller needing surgery to remove a rapidly growing cancerous tumor got in touch with Binc. They told us how a similar cancer took the lives of several family members. We can only imagine the level of stress and worry this bookseller was living with and working through every day. This bookseller (like many who contact Binc) had health insurance coverage, but their insurance had a high deductible. By working two part-time jobs in addition to their bookstore job, this bookseller could afford to pay all their monthly household expenses. What they couldn't afford was an unexpected and urgent $8,000 medical bill. Since they had health insurance, no charity care was available through their provider. With your help and our generous and caring supporters, this bookseller could schedule the life-saving medical care they needed. With Binc covering the down payments for the surgery and enough of the remaining bills to produce a manageable monthly payment, this bookseller can now focus on healing. Because of your support their situation now doesn't include a crippling and highly stressful financial burden – or even worse – having to delay or even forgoing their surgery. Too often people in our community are forced to delay or refrain from healthcare because even though they have insurance, the cost of procedures and medicines outstrips their income and coverage. Thanks to you though, this bookseller was able to schedule their life-saving surgery.

Early spring in the upper Midwest is no time to be without heat when temperatures continue to dip to near freezing in early May. After a roommate moved away unexpectedly, a 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, and 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. 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 this bookseller faced. They put their limited income towards rent and groceries and were trying hard to catch up on the utility bill when they were convinced by a thoughtful co-worker and friend to call Binc for help. Because of your donations and support, Binc paid the $700 balance to keep the gas on for this hard-working bookseller, allowing them to keep warm on freezing early spring nights. Having this bill paid not only gave them warmth, but also the breathing room and time to plan for the future.

One bookseller writes: “As with most resources similar to Binc, as a community, we never understand how important they are until we need them. As booksellers, we walk into this profession knowing our passion will have to compensate for our pockets. It's an industry with small margins and knowing that, many booksellers live on a financial tightrope; any unexpected circumstance tips the balance unfavorably. My scales tipped with a very immediate and unforeseen divorce which precipitated a relocation on my part. Without the help of my partner’s income and the substantial amount of money a move costs, to say I was depressed and panicked was an understatement. Fortunately, my new position at an independent bookstore and a place to stay was quite serendipitous, however, I was quickly finding out that no matter how many additional hours I worked, I was not going to have the extra funds to afford a new place to live. This is when I reached out to Binc. Asking for help has always been hard for me but asking for money has always been the hardest. Binc makes this process quick and painless and their staff is unbelievably understanding and encouraging. With a quick application and the necessary documents, Binc wrote a check to my landlord . . . giving me a new home to live in. This organization is special and the people that donate to this great organization are also sending a message to the booksellers who need it; you deserve it, we want to help; what you do is important.”

After working for a company for thirteen years, a bookseller’s partner was laid off without warning, effective immediately. This family of three (including their elementary-school-aged child) relied on this partner's income to pay the majority of their household expenses. The sudden lay off and uncertainty surrounding unemployment benefits left this family unable to meet their usual household expenses for the month. The bookseller lives with a chronic medical condition, so adding additional work hours was not an option. With seemingly nowhere to turn, they came to Binc for help. Binc was able to pay a month’s expenses so this family could focus on their next steps and finding a new job without having to also worry how they were going to pay the rent and feed their family.

A bookseller had been experiencing severe tooth and mouth pain for many months. After saving money for a dental exam, they found out they had serious tooth damage. They were advised to address this immediately before their mouth pain got worse and possibly lead to other health problems. One dentist they approached quoted more than $4,000 for the work they needed, which was far out of reach for the bookseller. After receiving this high estimate, they were resigned to the fact that they were not going to be able to afford treatment. With Binc’s help, they were able to secure an exam at a more affordable dentist, schedule the necessary appointments, and avoid further escalation, and health complications. Once Binc paid their dental bill, the bookseller was again pain-free and smiling.

A bookseller was living comfortably in a house with their landlord and a roommate. After the roommate moved away, the landlord received a new roommate into the household. At first, it seemed that things were going to work fine, but over time, the new roommate started behaving oddly towards the bookseller – not respecting boundaries quickly jumped to incidents of acting out. The frequency and severity of the incidents began escalating. Pleas to their landlord for help went unanswered, and since no crime was being committed, calling law enforcement was not an option either. The new roommate continued to verbally abuse the bookseller and issues became more and more frightening. Eventually, this untenable situation led to the bookseller seeking refuge elsewhere and even resorting to sleeping in their locked car to avoid new conflict. Things had gotten so bad that although they were paying rent, they were afraid to stay in their own home. The bookseller couldn't afford the security deposit needed to move into a new place and yet they were afraid to stay where they were living. Someone at their bookstore asked if they had contacted Binc. After the bookseller got in touch; Binc swiftly helped them move into a safe home where they no longer have to undergo daily abuse and fear of harm.

A bookseller’s car was destroyed in a flash flood created by extremely heavy spring rains. Losing their vehicle left them without a way to get to work because, like in many areas of the country, they did not have access to easy, timely, reliable public transportation. Like so many of us, they relied on their car to do everyday errands, keep to doctor’s appointments, and get to work every day. In a demonstration of care and solidarity we’ve come to know and rely on in this industry, a fundraising campaign was set up by their bookstore and within 24-hours the bookselling community responded generously, raising the first funds towards a replacement vehicle. Because of people like you, Binc could also respond quickly and sent this bookseller a matching grant, giving them additional funds and more flexibility to replace their old destroyed car with a reliable vehicle. Your support allowed them to get back to working at their bookstore as quickly as possible.

Sometimes it isn’t just one event that causes a bookseller to call Binc for assistance. A bookseller recently suffered a stroke which seemed to unleash a string of misfortune and hardship. While recovering from the stroke, their spouse unexpectedly lost their job. A short time later a beloved sibling passed away requiring out-of-state travel and weeks off of work to wrap up their affairs. On top of all this, a change in their spouse's health resulted in the resurfacing of an old illness. Then the bookseller fell, and sustained an injury requiring surgery. As a final blow, the bookseller’s mother-in-law was admitted into hospice care, so the family was also preparing for the possibility of having to travel and arrange another funeral. Even with health insurance, worker's compensation, an understanding employer, and a savings account, this bookseller and their family were completely wiped out, emotionally, physically, and financially. When a bookseller hits a chain 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, take a deep breath, and once again be able to focus on their family and the job they love.

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 anyone’s home. However they arrive, the process of ridding them from your home is grueling and expensive. A bookseller recently experienced such an infestation, waking up each morning with red and itchy bites. 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 and spent hundreds of dollars 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. Every appeal to the landlord was dismissed. 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.

One bookseller writes: “After [a series of] earthquakes, my home was left ‘unsafe for human habitation’, which is not surprising, considering the extremely wild and terrifying ride we had during the quakes. Along with many other families, my family was forced to find another place to stay. Thankfully, a gracious family member welcomed us in! Our mobile home was teetering and ready to fall off its foundation at any of the hundreds of sizable aftershocks . . . The mobile home company even told us they would move us to the front of the line, as our situation was in the most dire need . . . While we desperately tried to figure out how we could afford to save our home, Binc contacted my employer and sent a grant application to give to any employee affected by this disaster. What an amazing organization! I was easily able to file online and send the estimates, etc. Binc generously granted me half of cost of the stabilizing and replacing all the broken and bent pillars with new earthquake additions. I was able to borrow the rest from a family member, who wanted to help us keep from losing our home . . . Binc, swiftly, came to our aid and got the mobile home repair company paid so they could spring into action and now we are back at our now, super-strong and precious family home! Imagine that looming over your every thought during every aftershock. Since the repair, we’ve had a couple hard hits and the difference with the earthquake-appropriate strap-downs was so significant; we are solid!” 

A bookseller recently scheduled a routine eye exam which led to the discovery of a benign brain tumor. The news was devastating for the bookseller and their partner and families. It meant months of medical appointments, missed work for both the bookseller and their bookselling partner, driving long distances to meet with specialists, an invasive and intense brain surgery, multiple medications, and a long recovery period. The bookseller's partner said it was all incredibly stressful and was threatening to derail them financially. That’s when someone at their bookstore reminded them, they could contact Binc. During such a difficult period, when it takes all you’ve got to simply get from one day to the next, it can be difficult to remember that help exists. One of the very best things we can do for one another during these times is to remind booksellers that Binc is ready to step in and help right away. So, after some initial hesitation, because of their thoughtful and encouraging coworker, the couple contacted Binc. Thanks to you, we were able to swiftly respond to their situation and provide assistance. They wrote to us later saying, “When [you] confirmed [you] would help and to what level, I was immediately overcome with relief and a profound sense of gratitude. What was looking grim and terribly trying became a situation we could manage and navigate knowing our basic needs were met as we went through this experience. I am happy to say now the surgery was a success and recovery is going very well. Thanks to Binc, we made it through and were able to put our energy towards what was most important . . . I cannot express enough how amazing this foundation is. Thank you . . . for everything.”

A bookseller’s mother was diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer, requiring the bookseller to become the primary caregiver. One month later, the bookseller’s father was also diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. As an only child, the bookseller had to go from being their child to being a caregiver for two in a matter of two months. Both parents were forced to give up their full-time jobs as they went through their treatments and the bookseller’s limited salary was now supporting the three members of this struggling family. The bookseller had reached out to friends, family, and social services for help, but still an enormous amount of the day to day caregiving fell on their shoulders. Because they were the sole caregiver, they had to miss work at an alarming rate for doctors’ appointments, chemo, testing, and surgeries. They were in danger of losing the family home without help. Binc was able to step in and help pay household bills, giving this caregiver a chance to focus on what was most important – caring for their parents.

A bookseller writes: “Earlier this year I was diagnosed with a medical issue that required major surgical treatment. The post-operative recovery period meant I'd be off work for several weeks at the bookstore where I'm employed. I knew I needed the treatment and time to heal, but it came during a time of great upheaval in my personal life, and the stress of how I'd be able to pay my medical expenses and care for my family financially while unable to work was a stress I knew would make my recovery difficult. I'd learned about Binc from a social media post shared by fellow booksellers, and instantly felt a sense of peace and relief just knowing there was a foundation out there willing to help, even before I submitted my application for assistance. That feeling grew when, almost immediately after my documents were submitted, I heard from Binc and was assured the Foundation would do whatever was possible to help. Binc staff was ever diligent in letting me know how the process of addressing my bills with the medical provider was progressing. When one of their last correspondences with me was to inform me that an agreement had been reached and that Binc would be forwarding a payment on my behalf that would result in the close of my account, it was as if a weight I'd been carrying for weeks had been lifted. Without question, I could not have taken care of my family's needs financially during this time AND addressed this medical financial matter without the support and assistance of Binc. I have, and will continue to, inform fellow booksellers about the good work Binc does for us, and when able, look forward to making a donation to them in a show of support and appreciation.”

Give Back this Season! 

If you are interested in further helping communities affected by natural disasters, please feel free to make a monetary donation here. All proceeds will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc).