A panel of reviewers with a wealth of experience in all aspects of the book industry, as well as the entrepreneurial community, has been assembled by the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation to select the first cohort of BincTank, a pilot program that supports new BIPOC-owned retail bookselling businesses that are physically located in their community.
Applications for the first cohort of BincTank will now close Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. The first cohort will support 10-12 entrepreneurs selected anonymously by this panel of reviewers. The entrepreneurs and proposed businesses must be located in the U.S. or a U.S. territory.
“We are seeing a lot of applications come in as well as a number still in process,” said Ken White, BincTank program manager. “By extending the deadline to apply for this brand-new program by one day we hope to see even more entrepreneurs complete the application process.”
The panel of reviewers:
Nuola Akinde is the daughter of Bahamian and Yoruba immigrants and grew up in a home filled with books and stories from the African Diaspora. As a life-long lover of words, Nuola has worked in a variety of literary spaces, from campus bookstores and poetry workshops to advocacy nonprofits. In 2023 Nuola became the founding executive director of Legacy Unbound (formerly Edelweiss Legacy).
James Fugate is a retired bookseller with more than 40 years of bookselling experience, from managing college bookstores to co-owning EsoWon Books, an African American bookstore located in Los Angeles. James was involved in all aspects of running a bookstore and has a strong background in buying and selling books.
Javier Ramirez is co-owner of Exile in Bookville in Chicago and has been a judge for the Kirkus Nonfiction Prize in 2017, the National Book Award for Fiction in 2019, the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Fiction and Nonfiction in 2021, the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses in 2022 and the Cercador Prize for Literature in Translation in 2023. Javier was also director of programming for the 2021 Printers Row Lit Fest.
Tianna Woodford is a program manager at MORTAR Cincinnati where she oversees their 15-week Entrepreneurship Academy for marginalized entrepreneurs who want to start and/or grow their business. She oversees the logistics of the two classes MORTAR runs a year, which includes recruiting, reviewing applications, conducting interviews and booking space for classes. She is a champion for diversity and inclusion.
“We are grateful to all of the reviewers for sharing their time and expertise for this new program and for sharing in our belief that every community deserves their bookstore,” said Pam French, Binc’s executive director. “They will be reviewing a lot of information, but the process couldn’t be in better hands.”
Bookmobiles, pop-up stores and bricks and mortar storefronts are eligible models. Stores that qualify are either not yet open or have been open no more than six months prior to the time of application. Businesses interested in moving from one model to another, like a pop-up moving to a bricks and mortar location, are also eligible. Online only stores are not eligible. An FAQ document with more detailed information about eligibility is also currently available for review.