Binnacle Books has been a beloved addition to Beacon since the shop opened in 2015. But its importance to the community has grown over the past two years with their Prison Books Project.
According to shopkeeper and lead project organizer Mark Trecka, who developed the initiative with Brooklyn public defender Laurie Dick, Binnacle owners Kate Ryan and Annmarie Nye, and writer Kristen Holt-Browning, there are nearly 6,000 people incarcerated within a half-hour drive of Main Street. “We believe books can be transformative which, if you can imagine the nightmare of being locked up in a cell for a good chunk of your life, is important. We have folks who are in solitary confinement and all they can do is read,” Trecka says.
The project allows inmates to request novels by sending a postcard or email. The store then buys books from their distributor. Customers sponsor the cost of the books, and Binnacle mails them out.
Binnacle estimates that they’ve provided over 1,200 books since the project launched in 2020—everything from textbooks for incarcerated college students to romance novels. “Everyone has the right to some dignity, and it means the world to me to be able to facilitate that,” Trecka says.