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Booksellers for Social Responsibility
It all began early last year with Vintage Books' publication of Louder Than Words, an anthology of short stories donated by 22 writers. With proceeds from the sale of the book going to Share Our Strength, a five-year-old organization that distributes funds to shelters for the homeless and food banks around the country, booksellers nationwide used the book's release as an opportunity to organize many events aimed at raising money and consciousness about the homeless.
The programs were very successful, delighting the many booksellers who view social activism as a responsibility of their profession (Bookselling, April 27, 1990). After the events ended, Lew Rosenbaum, Guild Books, Chicago, who had helped organize a reading at the Chicago Public Library, wanted to find a way for the bookselling community to enact socially responsible programs on an ongoing basis. In putting the Chicago reading together, Rosenbaum met a number of booksellers who had created their own events. He gave each one a call and invited them to discuss the matter further at the ABA convention in Las Vegas last June.
"I thought the ABA would be an excellent opportunity to get us all together to evaluate what happened, what kind of network we were and how we wanted to proceed in terms of future activities," Rosenbaum says.
Twenty-nine booksellers, author Barbara Kingsolver and representatives from Vintage finally did meet. From that fertile brainstorming session, Booksellers for Social Responsibility (BSR) was born. It is, says Chris Faatz, marketing director of Graywolf Press, who has since joined the group, "a free association of individuals in the book trade who are interested in pursuing progressive and enlightening social goals, using the bookselling industry in all of its facets as a base."
Most members of the group wanted to continue tackling the problem of homelessness, especially considering that Vintage has scheduled Louder Than Words II for release this November. They hope to be organized enough at that point to be able to pull together a national event in conjunction with the publication. The group also discussed becoming involved in such issues as censorship and civil rights. Since the group's founding, the Gulf War has also become a matter of …