'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Save Modern Times! (Part 1) 

I can't overemphasize the importance of Modern Times Bookstore as a social and cultural resource in Northern California. If you live here, as I do, please consider responding to its call for financial assistance as I did. Even if you live elsewhere, it is important to recognize that Modern Times displays and sells books from small publishers, like Verso, 7 Stories Press, AK Press, Zed Books, PM Press, Haymarket Books, Zero Books, Monthly Review Books and Routledge, among others, as well as numerous academic ones. If Modern Times is lost, they will lose one of the few remaining bricks and mortar venues for obtaining public visibility for their books.

Authors and illustrators of zines rely on the store as well. So, even if you don't live in Northern California, and may never actually visit the store, please consider contributing to its survival. Your contribution will also preserve a community resource that makes space available for numerous progressive activities and events. It has been an essential feature of social life within the Mission District in San Francisco for its 39 years of existence, and it would be a tragedy to lose it.

If you are still not persuaded, here is the fundraising appeal put out by the worker-owners of the store:

We Need Your Help: Save Modern Times!

Dear Modern Times Community,

We are writing with a request for community support. Modern Times is facing a financial crisis and urgently needs an influx of cash if we are going to be able to pay our bills through the summer.

The cold, hard economic facts are these: We need to sell a certain amount everyday in order to break even on costs – taxes, rent, payroll, utilities, insurance, and new books – and right now we are not doing this.

We absolutely believe that it is possible to function more sustainably but we need your help right now if we are going to get to the more lucrative fall and winter months and be able to put into place the changes that will help us survive.

We know that times are tight for everyone and many folks are going to the library instead of shopping at bookstores.

However, we hear every day how much people from many communities value the fact that we continue to exist. We are one of the few remaining independent, collectively run, politically progressive bookstores in North America. We have many cherished members, customers and community members who rely on us to stock the titles they are interested in, to host events, open mics and workshops and to foster community here in the heart of the mission district. We're more than a store – we are a community resource.

In the past when progressive, feminist and LGBT bookstores all over North America were closing, it was your support that allowed us to keep going. If every one of you donated $10 we would raise enough to keep going for 3 months, $20 each would keep us in business for 6 months, donations of between $30 to $100 or more would be enough for us to keep our doors open, hopefully for good. If you would like to give more, but cannot do it all at once, consider donating a smaller amount every month. All donations will go directly towards covering the bookstore's costs, and are a part of a larger plan of action and structural change to make the business sustainable in the current economy.

Next year will be our 40th year, we very much want to be there to celebrate it with all of you.

There are so many ways you can help us out:

Donate by mailing us a check, by visiting the store with cash, check or credit card, calling in with you credit card to 415 282 9246, or on our website.

Consider becoming a sustaining or lifetime member, or sponsoring a shelf if you have not already done so.

Spread the word to your friends and community, promote this fundraising drive in your paper, blog, website or radio show, organize your own save the bookstore fundraisers or just pass the hat at a party.

Do you know a professor or teacher who needs to buy books for her/his course or classroom or a book group that is looking to order a quantity of books at one time? Put them in touch with us!

Give a Modern Times membership or gift certificate as a gift.

And, of course, come in and bring all your friends to the store to find the books that you love!

For our part, we are committed to keeping you in the loop, letting you know how our efforts to survive are going and what our longer term plans are as they develop.

In these challenging times, we stand with many other community-based businesses and organizations that are surviving capitalism through the strength of their communities. Please be a part of helping us thrive.

In solidarity and love,
The worker-owners of Modern Times Bookstore:
Leah, Kate, Kermit, Peta and Ruth

Feel free to disseminate this to anyone who might be interested.

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