With bookstores closing temporarily all over the country, people are looking for ways to support their local indies. And with the economic impact of the pandemic growing every week, a number of relief efforts are providing grants to authors, illustrators and other creators as well as to booksellers in need.
Buy Books and Audiobooks from Independent Booksellers
We have built an open spreadsheet of stores that have closed to visitors, but are still processing orders through their websites and/or phone orders: . publun.ch/storesMany are delivering locally while they can and/or offering special shipping offers. (You can report information on your store through the form at http://publun.ch/storeReports.)
Below, find more resources for helping booksellers.
Bookshop.org sells a full catalog of books — fulfilled by Ingram Content Group — and at 10 percent of all sales through the site are shared among independent booksellers who use the platform. But for maximum benefit, you want to use a store’s own Bookshop “shop”, which looks like this: https://bookshop.org/shop/papercuts. In those cases, the store is currently getting 30 percent of the purchase price. Bookshop has added a store locator, so you browse all of their participants and pick a store to buy from and support! (Bookshop has waived their share temporarily, so the bookstore gets pure profit on the transaction.)
Simon & Schuster became the first big publisher to officially partner with Bookshop. Buy buttons have been added to all Simon & Schuster websites, and the company is encouraging its authors to add Bookshop links to their own websites and social media posts. Any affiliate fees earned by S&S through Bookshop sales in 2020 will be donated to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. And they are also promotion Libro.fm audiobook purchases (see below) in fuhter support of booksellers.
Libro.fm is a digital audiobook subscription service that provides publishers’ audio titles on the same basis (and the same prices) as Audible and others — but their independent bookseller affiliates share in the proceeds. During the current crisis, use the code SHOPBOOKSTORESNOW when you enroll and you’ll get two audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99) — plus the entire payment goes to your local bookstore. Any one month gift membership also provides the full payment to the bookstore.
Note that most stores will also sell you gift cards, and many offer store subscriptions, memberships, pre-orders of forthcoming books, signed editions, and other specials that supply the store with cash flow.
Donate to Booksellers Who Have Been Laid Off, and the Nonprofit That Supports Them
Book Industry Charitable Foundation
Matching gift challenges from individuals as well as organizations including Abrams and the New Atlantic Booksellers Association have already made it possible for this nonprofit to provide over $351,958 in emergency assistance to booksellers households and families in need of fast emergency relief as of April 17. BINC helps booksellers with medical expenses and personal household expenses during times of crisis.
Booksellers applying for COVID-19 aid can use this expedited emergency form.
Also administered by BINC, this fund will provide direct support to ABA member bookstores, and was sparked by a $500,000 gift from James Patterson, along with promotional backing by Reese Witherspoon. The campaign raised over $228,000 in the first two weeks.
McNally Jackson Bookseller Support Fund
Contribute directly to this funding pool that is shared among the almost 80 laid off employees of McNally Jackson.
Powell’s Books Union Relief Fund
After substantial layoffs at Powell’s Books, ILWU Local 5, the union representing employees of the bookstore, has launched a relief fund directly benefiting union members.
Posman Books Staff GoFundMe
Posman Books “was forced to suspend operations” and their “stores in New York City and Atlanta have closed and the entire staff has been laid off.” They have a GoFundMe page to support staff.
And Other Stories
The publisher is donating 20% of new subscriptions to the indie bookstore of the subscriber’s choice.
Bookseller GoFundMe Pages
At least a dozen independent bookstores have posted pages raising community funds to stay in business.
Grants for Authors
A $10 million emergency initiative organized by multiple national arts grantmakers and seeded with $5 million from the Andrew Mellon Foundation that will distribute $5,000 grants to “artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19.” Writers are included in the multiple disciplines eligible for the grants.
Coffee House Writers Project
Coffee House Press will commission original, short, digital works from writers and booksellers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. The accepting donations to help pay contributors. They write on the website, “We want to put money in these writers’ hands as quickly as possible, and we are committed to writing checks at the time of commission.”
Maurice Sendak Emergency Relief Fund
The Maurice Sendak Foundation granted $100,000 to the New York Foundation for the Arts for an emergency relief grant program “to support children’s picture book artists and writers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.” They will provide grants of up to $2,500 a person, and hope to raise at least another $150,000 in the initial phase.
The group expanded its Writers’ Emergency Fund, to help writers “meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.” They will distribute grants of $500 to $1,000, and “have developed a new streamlined process for the duration of this crisis, and expect to be able to review and respond to applications within 10 days.”
Poets & Writers
Their COVID-19 Relief Fund will “provide emergency assistance to writers having difficulty meeting their basic needs.” They will make grants of up to $1,000 to approximately 80 writers in April. The board allocated $50,000, which has been supplemented by gifts from supporters including Michael Piestch and Zibby Owens.
The board allocated $100,000 to help members “who are struggling to afford necessary expenses due to lost revenue from COVID-19 illness or related restrictions.” Members can apply for up to $1,000 of emergency funding to cover the cost of essential needs.
We Need Diverse Books
WNDB will provide emergency grants to diverse authors, illustrators, and publishing professionals “who are experiencing dire financial need.” They will give grants of $500 each, and are limiting the first round of applications to 70.
The organization posted an extensive guide for individuals looking to obtain assistance or relief from governments and lenders.
Separately, the AG is leading a coalition of 19 organizations representing writers, visual artists and songwriters lobbying Congressional leaders to expand unemployment benefits to all freelance workers who have lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis. The CARES Act only covers freelancers who have been affected by one of the 11 COVID-19-related reasons and do not have the “ability to telework.” As they underscore in their letter, “the problem isn’t that these [creators] cannot telework or get to their ‘place’ of employment or that their places of employment are closed: the problem is that the previously available work isn’t there.”
Canadian Writers’ Emergency Relief Fund
Created by the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) to support professional authors. The fund will distribute grants of $1,500 to “writers that have seen contracted or projected income evaporate due to the current public health crisis.” RBC joined the two organizations in funding the initial pool of $150,000, and Access Copyright Foundation donated another $100,000 to expand the pool.
Society of Authors
This UK organization started with combined gifts of £235,000 for their Authors’ Contingency Fund to support authors through the crisis. , supplemented by £400,000 from Arts Council England. They expect to make grants of “up to £2,000 and designed to meet urgent need.”