Binc Supporters Raise $13,000 for Booksellers Affected by California Wildfires, Blackouts

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Supporters of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) have already donated $13,000 to help affected booksellers and comic retailers deal with expenses related to the recent wildfires and power outages in California. 

As the wildfires near containment, the foundation is urging affected booksellers to continue reaching out to the organization for help. Over the past two weeks, as the Kincade Fire in Northern California and the Maria Fire in Southern California raged, hundreds of booksellers were evacuated from their homes and at least a dozen bookstores were closed temporarily (see recent coverage in Shelf Awareness and Publishers Weekly); some stores that were not evacuated tried to stay open without power but saw few customers. 

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At the start of the crisis, New York-based literary agency The Book Group offered a $2,000 dollar for dollar match to help affected booksellers, raising $13,000 for Binc through supporter donations. Binc reports that the Foundation has already helped one store with their rent payment, allowing them to remain open after an extended power outage and the resulting loss of daily sales. Four booksellers have been helped with emergency financial grants to get them through their evacuation periods, helping them restock their fridges with fresh food, purchase warm clothing during the evacuation, buy critical medication, and more.

"We are extremely grateful to everyone who responded to the California wildfires and blackouts with generosity and care for those affected," said Book Industry Charitable Foundation Executive Director Pam French. "As we help booksellers through these disasters and many other personal financial obstacles, we are thankful for the support of the individuals, publishers, literary agencies, distributors, and everyone who makes it possible through their donations to assist every bookseller with a need that comes to Binc for help." 

According to Binc, it is not uncommon for financial hardships caused by a disaster to take several weeks or months to surface as booksellers come to terms with the monetary and emotional cost of evacuating and lost work hours. Binc is currently working through the assistance process with many booksellers and bookstores, as they return to their homes and their stores, and continuing to reach out to individuals and stores in California. 

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Here are a few of the ways the Binc Foundation is helping those bookstore owners and employees affected by the fires:

  • If a store has to close or business is so slow (due to evacuations, fires, and/or loss of electricity) that you cannot pay the store rent or utilities, Binc may be able to pay rent and utility expenses on your behalf.
  • If a bookseller/retailer misses 50 percent of scheduled weekly work hours, Binc may be able to help with personal household expenses if this missed income causes financial hardship.
  • If a bookseller/retailer needs to relocate to temporary housing with power for emergency reasons (medical condition, elderly household members, infant, etc.), Binc may be able to help pay for temporary lodging and supplies.

Booksellers who have been affected by the California fires and related power outages are invited to e-mail Binc at [email protected] or call (866) 733-9064 to talk through possible assistance options with Binc staff. Booksellers who know of colleagues affected by the fires are asked to spread the word about Binc via personal outreach and on social media.

According to Binc, support is critical right now as the Foundation is seeing the highest need among booksellers since 2011. To help all booksellers affected by similar emergencies, severe weather incidents, and/or natural disasters, donate to Binc today. Donors who sign up today to be a monthly sustaining donor will have their donations matched dollar-for-dollar. 

CA fire mapAn Important Message for ABA Member Booksellers Attending Winter Institute

American Booksellers Association member stores that are unable to register for Winter Institute special events due to the California wildfires should contact [email protected] by Friday, November 15. Registration opened on Tuesday, October 29. In addition, stores that need help connecting with LIBRIS insurance services or require ABA’s assistance securing extended credit from publishers, please be in touch with ABA Senior Membership Manager Daniel O’Brien.