Seeking to alleviate some of the hardship that booksellers are facing in the midst of the growing coronavirus pandemic, the American Booksellers Association has donated $100,000 to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) and is implementing several strategies to mitigate the impact of store closures and layoffs.

In a letter to members, ABA CEO Allison HIll wrote: "ABA has heard from many member bookstores concerned about their booksellers’ welfare right now. We are happy to help Binc in their efforts to assist booksellers with medical expenses, quarantine-related expenses, lost wages, and personal household expenses during the crisis as well as bookstores that are unable to pay store rent and/or utility expenses due to store closures or restrictions related to the virus. For more information, please refer to the Binc website."

Reduced membership fees, faster payment, and other resources

In addition, Hill wrote, the ABA is offering booksellers three months of membership dues relief or credit. Stores that pay quarterly will not be charged for next quarter; stores that pay monthly will not be charged for the next three months (March, April, and May); and stores that pay annually will automatically get 25% of their payment back.

As many stores are pushing customers to their online operations, Hill said that any store that operates an IndieCommerce site will now be paid weekly to help with cash flow. "Amazon has announced that it is deprioritizing book sales until at least April 5," she said. "This news, coupled with the increases stores were already experiencing in online sales, means ABA is prioritizing our support of bookstore ecommerce."

Hill added: "IndieCommerce continues to set up IndieLite sites for free through May 31 for bookstores that don’t currently have e-commerce sites, and the team is working around the clock to ensure that existing e-commerce sites can keep up with increased volume. We are in ongoing communication with Ingram as they continue to work to support direct-to-home sales from store websites as well."

Hill also advised booksellers that Facebook has announced a cash grant program, which will provide $100 million in grants and ad credits to 30,000 small businesses in 30 countries. She added that stores should pay attention to changes in the collection dates for sales and use taxes due to the virus.

Daily open forum for booksellers

The ABA will be holding an open forum meeting on Zoom each weekday from 3-4 p.m. EST through April 30 to answer questions and allow booksellers to share support and ideas. (Booksellers can join here, and the meeting ID is 749 778 583.) ABA’s membership team will moderate the forum. The association is also maintaining a list of coronavirus-related news and resources for booksellers online.

"I’m going to keep repeating this as our mantra right now: We are an incredibly creative, resilient, supportive industry," she wrote, in conclusion. "We’ll get through this, together."