On Tuesday, March 30, the Book Industry Charity Foundation (Binc) announced the establishment of the Survive to Thrive bookstore grant program. Founded with initial support from Ingram Charities and Ingram Content Group, the program will quickly provide grants to independent bookstores and comic shops affected by COVID-19.
With a leading gift of $500,000 jointly from Ingram Charities and Ingram Content Group, $250,000 from Bookshop.org, and an additional $250,000 total from Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Penguin Random House, the Survive to Thrive initiative has raised the first million dollars of its $2 million goal.
“As we all turn our attention toward getting to the other side of the pandemic, I want to be sure local bookstores — gems of their communities — have a chance to not only survive, but thrive,” said John R. Ingram, chairman of Ingram Industries and Ingram Content Group. “Our intent was to make an initial gift to quickly start the Survive to Thrive grant program and to set it up as a matching grant — hoping it will inspire others to join us in supporting local independent booksellers. Bookstores are the lifeblood of local communities — their success is our success.”
“We can’t thank John Ingram enough for his visionary gift in support of independent bookstores and comic shops, and for his hands-on advocacy in reaching out to other industry leaders,” said Binc Executive Director Pamela French. “We are also grateful to the five additional companies that joined Ingram to kick off the Survive to Thrive grant program.”
The Survive to Thrive grant program will provide substantial support to as many as 200 brick-and-mortar bookstores and comic shops in the U.S. that have a strong foundation in their community but are facing financial challenges due to the impacts of the pandemic.
“Our goal is to raise an additional million dollars for a campaign total of $2 million by the end of May,” French said. “It’s an ambitious goal, but thanks to Ingram and several industry leaders, we are halfway there.”
With $2 million, the Survive to Thrive initiative could make grants of up to $10,000 to 200 independent bookstores and comic shops.
Grants will be made via a juried review process designed to provide grants to stabilize stores and help them thrive, retaining the many and varied benefits local bookstores and comic shops provide to their communities. The Survive to Thrive jury of reviewers will be made of industry leaders who love book and comic shops and have the knowledge and expertise to review the grant applications. The Survive to Thrive applications are expected to open in mid-April, with grants to be distributed in early June.
Survive to Thrive is relying on industry and community support. All gifts to Binc in support of the Survive to Thrive grant program will make a difference for independent bookstores and comic shops that, with some help, can continue to be vital Main Street anchors, community gathering spots and the backbone of the book and comics industries.
“Bookstores should not be worried about staying in business if they have one bad season, an unforeseen major expense, or even a global pandemic. Bookshop.org is grateful to Binc for creating this resource and proud to help make it possible,” said Andy Hunter, founder and CEO of Bookshop.org.
Hachette Book Group CEO Michael Pietsch said, “Binc’s mission to support the independent booksellers through difficult times is more important than ever, and we are grateful to Ingram for spearheading this major fundraising initiative. Hachette is a longtime supporter of Binc and the independent booksellers who are so essential to books, authors, and reading, and we’re proud to be part of Binc’s Survive to Thrive initiative in this urgent moment.”
“One of the lessons of the pandemic will be the role that books and authors played in helping the public get through very difficult times and the aid and comfort local bookstores provided to their communities in bringing authors and readers together. There are thousands of examples of how the nation’s independent booksellers quickly rallied, developed new ways of doing business and were beacons of hope for better times. Now is a critical time for independent booksellers and we are so proud to support Binc’s Survive to Thrive initiative, which will play a crucial role in helping independents to retain a solid footing in their communities, as well as extending and refining the many innovative ways of bookselling that have arisen out of necessity during the last year,” said Josh Marwell, HarperCollins president of sales.
“The independent bookstores of America are critical to our bookselling environment, and now more than ever we all need to rely on each other,” said Don Weisberg, CEO, Macmillan Publishers. “Macmillan is proud to partner with Binc and play our part in this worthy campaign.”
“It is a privilege for Penguin Random House, with our contribution, to acknowledge and to join in advancing the indispensable contributions of Binc to the independent bookstore and comic shop community. In this time when the availability of wide-ranging information and ideas is more necessary than ever to the future of society, Binc’s support of our authors and their books, by their heroic sustaining of a healthy small-business bookselling ecosystem, is cheering and inspiring,” said Jaci Updike, president of sales, Penguin Random House U.S.
In 2020, Binc distributed $2.9 million to help more than 2,200 bookstores, comic shops, and individual store owners and employees. In eight weeks beginning in late March 2020, Binc distributed more aid than in the prior eight years combined.
“Ingram and these five industry leading companies have made amazing gifts,” said French. “The way to meet this campaign’s goal — and help as many stores as possible — is for everyone who can to get involved. Share the word with your friends. Every gift will make a difference.”