IBPA runs a quarterly bookstore catalog, presenting about 100 member frontlist and backlist titles to booksellers across the United States. The catalog is delivered digitally to Ingram’s 3,500 top retail accounts, and then 750 copies are printed and included in the American Booksellers Association’s box mailing to their 750 most active IndieBound bookstores.
Nonprofit Partnership #1
But with COVID-19 shutting down most bookstores in the US just as we began planning the Summer 2020 catalog, we stopped taking orders and canceled the catalog. As the financial impact on bookstores and their employees and owners became clear, the IBPA staff wanted to do something to help. The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) was taking donations to help booksellers in need, and IBPA wrote a check—not a huge amount, but big for us as a nonprofit. It was something tangible to help in a crisis, and that feeling helped us feel better in a very challenging time.
When bookstores started to open back up in the fall of 2020, we saw an opportunity to do a combined Fall/Winter 2020 issue of our bookstore catalog that would accomplish a number of goals: 1) give every participating publisher from spring 2020 a second chance to be discovered; 2) raise funds for Binc by donating $40 per page (at no additional cost to the participating publishers); 3) let booksellers know our independent publishers, hybrid publishers, self-published authors (we call them author publishers), university presses, and association press members were supporting them; 4) present IBPA publisher member titles to bookstore buyers for their consideration.
It was envisioned as a win-win-win: a win for bookstores; a win for IBPA’s publisher members; and a win for readers, who would hopefully discover some great indie titles. That catalog raised $2,880 for Binc’s efforts to help booksellers in need. We made the catalog a fundraising benefit for Binc three more times and ended up donating a total of over $9,500 on behalf of IBPA members.
Nonprofit Partnership #2
For winter 2021, we partnered with another nonprofit, We Need Diverse Books (WNDB). We’ve long cheered their efforts to diversify the publishing industry and saw their Internship Grant Program as a great way IBPA and our members could help make a difference. The Winter 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022 catalogs all benefited that program, and raised nearly $5,000. And WNDB shared IBPA’s bookstore catalogs, along with the news of our community’s donation, with their community.
Caroline Richmond, WNDB’s executive director, said of the partnership, “We are so honored and grateful for the generosity of IBPA and its members. Thanks to this gift, we'll be able to provide two additional Internship Grants this summer, which will help more diverse interns gain a foothold in the publishing industry!”
In working with WNDB, we realized we could do more than just donate money. We invited WNDB to present about their mission to our members at IBPA’s Publishing University conference in 2022. Caroline commented on that additional level of the partnership, “We’re also grateful for the opportunity to have presented a virtual panel at PubU that delved into hiring and retaining a diverse workforce. Looking ahead, we hope to further this conversation with IBPA membership, exploring how publishers can utilize authenticity readers and diverse freelancers.”
Nonprofit Partnership #3
IBPA’s nonprofit partnership program started with writing a single check and has evolved into a more fulsome relationship. For our third nonprofit partnership, launched in May 2022, we even have a simple agreement with the global literacy nonprofit NABU, spelling out what each organization will do over the course of the year. The idea is to lean into the synergies of both organizations, and see where we can each do more.
In many countries, poverty and illiteracy are inextricably linked when children have little or no access to culturally relevant mother-tongue language books to read. NABU’s mission is to disrupt this cycle of poverty by publishing children’s books for free on digital platforms in mother tongue languages, and making them available to children in low-income nations. They are already reaching over a million readers in seven countries.
IBPA’s partnership with NABU includes some of the things we’ve done before: a year of bookstore catalog donations ($40 a page) donated to help NABU advance their mission; an opportunity for NABU to speak at Publishing University; and NABU sharing the four bookstore catalogs and the news of IBPA members’ donations with their community. It also includes some new things: IBPA will feature a page of NABU’s bilingual print titles in each catalog; NABU will offer IBPA members with culturally relevant books the chance to submit their picture books for NABU’s donation consideration (selected titles will be translated into the mother tongue language and made available to children in those low-income nations); and provide a chance for interested IBPA members to offer mentoring and learn more about the creator journey with NABU’s Authentic Book Creation Lab creators in Florida.
IBPA is delighted at the expansion of the nonprofit partnership program, and we’re already thinking about who will be IBPA’s next nonprofit partner whose mission and vision align with our own. If you have suggestions for nonprofits for IBPA to consider, please email us at email@example.com.