Book tours and author events have been called off — having a particular impact on debut authors — literary nonprofits have lost essential fund-raising opportunities and bookstores are closed. Lisa Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, sees the coming weeks as crucial for the city’s literary landscape. “I want New Yorkers to imagine a city without bookstores, or to imagine themselves living in a home without books and tell me if they would want to live there,” she said. “Now is the time to recognize how much books teach us, heal us, distract us — and to make sure that we support a community that is of deep value to the city’s cultural life.” Buying books remains a primary way of supporting authors and bookstore owners and employees, many of whom have been laid off because of closures. For an easy-to-use digital platform that shares its profits with local indies, Lucas recommends bookshop.org. Then there’s the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to booksellers, which has created a Covid-19 emergency fund.
You might also consider giving to a literary nonprofit such as the House of SpeakEasy, which brings authors and audiences together in innovative ways, often through live performances. “We’ve recorded most of our performances and will be repackaging past shows so that new audiences can enjoy them while housebound,” said Paul Morris, the organization’s executive director. His team also operates a bookmobile in New York City, and, pending C.D.C. approval, he plans to deliver books to nursing homes and other underserved communities.
John deBary has tended bar in New York for over a decade at famed haunts, including Please Don’t Tell, and spent several years as the corporate bar director for the Momofuku Restaurant Group. In 2018, he co-founded the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) to support workers in the industry, and the group launched its Covid-19 Relief Fund on March 18. Donations go directly to individuals in the hospitality industry affected by closures, to organizations aiding those workers and also to establish interest-free, zero-collateral loans to small businesses looking to get back on their feet. “Since we announced the fund,” he said, “we have been inundated with over 10,000 heartbreaking requests for assistance. Even on a ‘good’ day, restaurant workers are only one bad shift away from serious financial hardship.”
Donate to the RWCF Covid-19 Relief fund here. Also, Robin Hood has teamed up with Relief Opportunities for All Restaurants (ROAR) to create a fund for affected individuals in the restaurant industry in New York City. You can also purchase gift cards or donate to your favorite restaurants and other local businesses, many of which have established their own funds and/or are listed at cards.gift, a purpose-built website to support independent businesses through closures.