Hurricane Harvey Update: Booksellers Fundraise

Marines delivering supplies to families affected by Hurricane Harvey (photo: Lance Cpl. Niles Lee/via)

Hurricane Harvey is gone, but the many millions who were in its path are just beginning to cope with the damage it caused, mostly from the record-breaking flooding that inundated many homes and businesses with a toxic brew of sludge, septic waste and unknown amounts of chemicals and oil. Bookstores in the area fared relatively well, and booksellers across the country continue to send support.

Power returned to Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston last week, but phone service is partially disrupted--the store cannot receive calls from Verizon or AT&T customers. Owner Valerie Koehler reported that "the water in our neighborhood has not receded and will not for at least two more weeks. But my home is fine (several staffers have not fared so well)."

Blue Willow has launched a hurricane relief gift card program under which the store will use gift card purchases to buy books that will be delivered to a shelter or affected library in the greater Houston area.

The store is also offering daily story time and the opportunity to charge devices as well as "conversation--sometimes, you just need someone to talk to. We're always here to lend an ear. Come be with us in community."


Many bookstores across the country are donating to Hurricane Harvey relief. Among them:

In Southern California, Vroman's Bookstore, Vroman's Hastings Ranch and Book Soup donated a portion of their proceeds from the long weekend to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. The stores also began a letter drive, which ends tomorrow, collecting letters of support and appreciation for "the thousands of emergency responders on the frontlines in Houston right now working tirelessly to help those in need."

In addition, tomorrow Vroman's is hosting a blood drive, sponsored by Huntington Hospital, in its parking lot. The blood won't be sent to Houston, but "the drive is in solidarity with those affected and will help others in need. Drop by the store to donate blood and receive a coupon for 30% off one transaction."

Both branches of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., were originally going to be closed yesterday for the Labor Day holiday, but the store on Prince opened for "an all-day event to support our colleagues whose lives have been upended by #HurricaneHarvey." A portion of proceeds went to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), earmarked for booksellers in the Houston area. Anyone who made a purchase in the store yesterday or online also had a chance to win books and gift cards. Owner Janet Geddis praised Binc for its support two years ago, when she had "prohibitively expensive" surgery.

Bank Square Books, Mystic, Conn., and Savoy Bookshop and Café, Westerly, R.I., also donated a portion of all sales over the holiday weekend to Binc. The stores noted: "Bank Square Books was hit hard by Tropical Storm Sandy in 2012, and Binc and our local community rallied behind us to help out. We are so grateful for the assistance we received in a time of need, and now we want to take the opportunity to give back to our bookselling community."

Belmont Books, Belmont Center, Mass., donated all profits from its sales on Saturday to the Houston Food Bank. The store tweeted that it had "excellent sales," which is allowing it to make "a great donation."

At Kramerbooks, Washington, D.C., "all proceeds from the Classic Double Burger and the Texas Tea cocktail special" went toward Texas relief all Labor Day weekend.

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