Book People Are the Best People: How 100+ Authors and Illustrators Rose to the Occasion in a BIG Way

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Parnassus Books manager of books for young readers, Stephanie Appell, with piggy banks decorated and donated by Veronica Roth, Nina Laden, Cece Bell, Andrea Beaty, RJ Palacio, and Jeff Zentner.

If you’re a bookseller whose life has been turned upside down by illness, natural disaster, or other sudden misfortune, the folks who write the books you sell have your back.

That’s what our manager of books for young readers and the ParnassusNext subscription program, Stephanie Appell, found out when she was diagnosed in April of this year at age 29 with breast cancer and faced months of chemo, surgery, recovery — and so many medical bills.

“I actually had the ‘it’s cancer’ conversation phone call with my doctor in the bookstore bathroom,” Appell remembers. “My first work-related thought was, ‘How are we going to get done all that needs doing if I’m out sick?’ But when I told everyone, they just said, ‘We got this. What do you need?’”

That’s when we started formulating an idea: Would some of the authors coming to town for book-signings be willing to contribute a little something the store could sell to raise money for Steph’s medical expenses? What if we asked authors to decorate, say, some little piggy banks? Ann Patchett reached out to a few friends; our events director, Niki Coffman, put out a few feelers; and as authors told fellow authors about it, word spread.

Barbara Kingsolver

“We cast our piggy banks upon the water and what came back to us was more fabulous than anything we could have ever imagined,” Ann says. One big-name creator after another jumped to get on board. Pigs arrived back in the mail from John Green, Yo-Yo Ma, Barbara Kingsolver, and more than 100 others.

Julie Danielson, Nashville-based author of Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature who writes about kids’ books at the Seven Impossible Things blog, played a big part in getting the movement rolling. She says, “The children’s literature community always restores my faith in humanity. When I reached out to some fellow authors and illustrators about this project, I got a flood of responses within hours. All in the name of kindness.”

With more than 100 authors and illustrators on board, we knew this effort had grown beyond just one bookseller and one bookstore. So we decided to donate a portion of the funds raised to the Book Industry Charitable (Binc) Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to assisting booksellers in need. (Along with fellow author James Patterson, Ann Patchett serves as co-ambassador this year of Binc, which has been leading the way in assisting booksellers in need for 20 years.) So every piggy sold helps not only this one bookseller, but others across the country as well!

Sharon Draper, five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Literary Award and New York Times-bestselling author, says, “I am not a painter, but I am a cancer survivor. My little purple pig is my gift to Stephanie, to lovers of books, and to all who bravely face life’s obstacles.”

Piggy banks by Leigh Bardugo, Barbara McClintock, and Lauren Castillo

How You Can Participate (And Bid on the Piggies!)

  • If you’re in Nashville, join us for the BANK ON BOOKSELLERS party on Sunday, September 25, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to view all the piggies and get the bidding started! The party is open to the public. A $10 donation is requested at the door.
  • No matter where you are, you can see all the piggies and bid online via BiddingOwl beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, 2016, through 8 p.m. on Friday, September 30. 
  • Spread the word: share this post and tag it #BankOnBooksellers!

And remember: you can always support Binc directly! Now, later, and long after this auction is over. When you do, you’ll be ensuring that another bookseller will be able to stay on her feet when hard times hit. (Donate here.

“Whether you’re one of ours or you’re a bookseller somewhere else, we think it’s our place to help,” Ann adds. “I couldn’t be more delighted that all these authors and illustrators agree. Book people are the best people.”

Enormous thanks to these authors, illustrators, and notable book-lovers for contributing their artistic talents to the piggies! 

Becky Albertalli
Adi Alsaid
Katherine Applegate
David Arnold
Leigh Bardugo
Mac Barnett
Andrea Beaty
Cece Bell
Jeanne Birdsall
Ashley Herring Blake
Gwenda Bond
Sandra Boynton
Connie Britton
Brene Brown
Nick Bruel
Lauren Castillo
R. Gregory Christie
Matthew Cordell
Mike Curato
Matt de la Pena
Sarah Dessen
Kate DiCamillo
Tony DiTerlizzi
Sharon Draper
Susan Eaddy
Carson Ellis
Denise Fleming
Renee Fleming
Marla Frazee
Emily Giffin
Robin Preiss Glasser
Lauren Graham
John Green
Jenny Han
Daniel Handler & Lisa Brown
Paula Hawkins
Grace Helbig
Tad Hills
Molly Idle
Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires
Laurie Keller
Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban
Barbara Kingsolver
Jeff Kinney
Jon Klassen
Nina Laden
Jenny Lawson
Barbara Lehman
Alan Lequire
Tom Lichtenheld
Steve Light
Grace Lin
Loren Long
Emery Lord
Marie Lu
Yo-Yo Ma
Morgan Matson
Barbara McClintock
Jon Meacham
Colin Meloy
Maile Meloy
Glennon Melton
Marissa Meyer
Lori Nichols
Kathryn Ormsbee
Kim Williams-Paisley & Brad Paisley
RJ Palacio
Julie Pashkis
Ann Patchett
Penguin Books
Stephanie Perkins
Matt Phelan
Mary Laura Philpott
Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney
Greg Pizzoli
Matthew Quick
Chris Raschka
Adam Rex
Christian Robinson
Al Roker & Deborah Roberts
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Veronica Roth
Rainbow Rowell
Adam Rubin
Dan Santat
Judy Schachner
Ian Schoenherr
Jon Scieszka
Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Maria Semple
Ruta Sepetys
Bob Shea
Adam Silvera
David Small
Lane Smith
Jennifer Smith
Phil & Erin Stead
Emma Straub
Sabaa Tahir
Harry Underwood
Jillian Vandall
Siobhan Vivian
Jasmine Warga
Tom Watson
Mo Willems
Nicola Yoon
Jessica Young
Jeff Zentner