February 1, 2019

We went to Winter Institute and all we got was this super-rad pin which also helps booksellers


If any of your nerdy friends or acquaintances show up sporting a flashing pin shaped like either a chile pepper or a hot air balloon, give them a hug. That pin signifies that your friend donated to this year’s fundraising game at Winter Institute, organized by the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. 

For the past two years, Binc has hosted the “Heads or Tails” coin-toss fundraising game at several book industry events. As Liz Button (whose last name is so close to perfection for this story it is honestly driving me crazy) reported on BookWeb, this year’s fundraiser raised $7,559 for the organization—just shy of last year’s total of $7,676, raised at  WI13 in Memphis. The pins this year were designed specifically to represent the spirit and culture of host city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Binc, started in 1996, raises money for booksellers in financial need, helping with everything from rent payments to escaping domestic abuse to disaster recovery, while funding scholarships in between. Their website and Twitter account also provide informational resources for booksellers and store owners … like, say, how to avoid frozen pipes, which may or may not be useful for roughly 114% of the country this week.

The rules for “Heads or Tails” are simple:

But if not, you continue playing until just one pin-wearer is standing. And if that’s you, congrats! You’ve won the prize—which was a $500 American Express gift card.

But honestly, isn’t the greatest prize of all a cool flashing pin? This year’s winner, Whitney Balaun, a development specialist at LIBRIS, certainly thinks so. She donated her gift card right back to Binc, like a boss. Because she knows that the second-best prize, behind a cool flashing pin, is the knowledge that you helped raise thousands of dollars for booksellers in need.

[Great news: you don’t even have to touch your own head or butt in order to donate to Binc. Just visit their website.]



Susan Rella is the Director of Production at Melville House, and a former bookseller.