Hurricane Harvey displaced more than 30,000 people and has caused economic losses estimated at over $70 billion.
Despite this, a number of bookstores opened their doors to allow people in for relief from the storm and to demonstrate that life goes on.
The most well known of these events might be the reopening of Murder by the Book, which is a mystery bookstore in West University Place. It opened to offer free coffee, charging stations, and respite.
Teacher Kathryn Mills helped those affected by the hurricane by starting the Hurricane Harvey Book Club on Facebook. She did so by posting a video of herself reading a picture book, considering it a small thing that she could do to bring some kids some calm despite the storm.
The group quickly reached 71,000+ members. While it was a great moment of solidarity, comfort, and the power of shared literature, it did come to an end – mostly due to copyright and legal issues – but the spirit of the movement lives on.
Simon & Schuster is offering assistance to public and school libraries in Texas, as well as Texas booksellers, providing copies of 20 new releases and bestsellers to help attract customers and get businesses back on their feet. They will also donate 250 “best of” titles to help restore collections at damaged Texas public or school libraries, expressing appreciation for the role of public and school libraries in a community.
What You Can Do
1. Spread the word about The Book Industry Charitable Foundation.
You might think that every bookseller will have heard of such an organization, but that’s not the case. And those who have heard of BINC may not have got in touch with them.
BINC can help bookstores re-open by helping with mortgage or rent payments, clean-up expenses, replacement of furnishings or inventory, storage costs, and repairs. They will work with individual booksellers affected by Harvey too. They can help with such things as evacuation, relocation, repairs, lost income, and emergency food and clothing costs.
Help bookstores by sharing BINC’s contact information.
2. Donate to Reading is Fundamental
RIF was created to address literacy problems in the US. Alongside local officials, they are actively involved in donating 25,000 new educational resources and books to children who have been displaced by Hurricane Harvey.
You can donate to the organization here.
3. Get Back on Your Feet
Another way to help a bookseller or library that has been affected by a disaster is to visit them. If the store or library is open and you can get there safely, they are sure to appreciate a visit as they get their operations back up and running.
Show your support with a kind word, by making a purchase, or just by being there.
Whether your interest veers towards literacy, peace, or a convivial coffee, a bookstore is an important part of local life. Support a bookseller and you are supporting a community.