Saturday, December 6, 2008

Norilana Books in Peril!

Norilana Books, the small specialty press which has published such gems as Sherwood Smith's Senrid and A Stranger To Command, is in serious danger.

It is a one-woman production, owned and operated by Vera Nazarian, an immigrant who came here from the old Soviet Union in the depths of the Cold War. After years of struggling to support her aging parents on multiple low-paying jobs and struggling with a crushing debt load (the result of having been defrauded when she was young and inexperienced, and believing that it was her fault because she was, in her own words, "just a dumb immigrant"), her health finally became so poor she could no longer go to an office each day. Determined not to become a public charge, she founded Norilana Books so she could work from home, which also enabled her to give round-the-clock care to her parents as their health deteriorated.

However, businesses take a certain amount of lead time to become profitable, and in that time Vera's personal financial situation worsened dramatically. Her father passed away after a lengthy (and expensive) illness, and her mother went through another illness which required her total attention for several months she desperately needed to build her business. Then she had several major and expensive problems with her house, some of which have not been completely resolved and pose continuing risk to the health of her and her mother.

Now her situation has become critical, and she is in danger of losing her house if she cannot come up with over ten thousand dollars to pay her mortgage, since her forbearance has ended prematurely. Although Norilana Books itself is in sufficiently sound condition that it can continue operations, how can Vera continue to produce books if she and her mother have been tossed out on the street?

A number of her friends have set up a site, Help Vera, on which they are taking donations and auctioning various collectible items in order to raise enough money that Vera will be able to have some leverage in negotiating with her mortgage holder. Every dollar we can raise will make it more likely that they will actually be willing to work with her rather than simply grabbing the house and tossing her out on her ear to fend for herself.

Update: The fundraiser has succeeded far beyond our hopes. We already have enough money to pay the arrearage on Vera's mortgage, and there are still donations and auction payments in the pipeline. The additional money will be used to help Vera get a lawyer to get her mortgage rewritten to standard terms (as opposed to the onerous sub-prime mortgage she currently has), to get her sewer line fixed before it becomes a catastrophe, to deal with medical expenses for her and her mother, and start building a cushion against future misfortunes.

This upwelling of grassroots support really restores my faith in humanity. It's so good to know that people can pull together to help someone who's fallen upon hard times.

Now the best thing we can do to help her maintain long-term solvency is to buy some of her books, and encourage others to do so as well. So go to Norilana Books, take a look through the catalog, and see if there's something that you'd like to get, either for yourself or as a gift for a friend. And pass the word: link it from your Website, blog about it, bookmark it in social bookmarking websites like Digg!, StumbleUpon, Furl, etc. Every link we create will help raise the prominence of her Website and her company, and thus its profitability.

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