February 21, 2014

James Patterson hands over the money


OK so he's not a smiler, but he really loves bookshops!

OK so he’s not a smiler, but he really loves bookshops!

Back in September the sensationally successful, bestselling author James Patterson pledged $1 million of his personal wealth to independent bookshops across America (we covered the story here). Yesterday, Patterson announced an initial list of 55 bookshops that are receiving donations ranging from $2,000 to $15,000.

While Patterson acknowledges that his donation won’t solve all the problems bookshops have to face (Amazon just being one concern, albeit a huge one), he hopes it will be a step in the right direction for stores. Last year Patterson invited bookshops to submit proposals of what they would do with the extra cash, and as the New York Times reports, ideas varied from Manhattan’s Bank Street Bookstore’s proposal that it would “use the funds to post and stream online video of in-store events” to Hicklebee’s in San Jose, California, who hoped to replace their ancient computer system, and give a bonus to its hard-working manager.

And Patterson is now really delivering on his promise. Make no mistake, this is a really cool and generous gesture from a writer who doesn’t need to buy fans: Patterson is one of the world’s wealthiest writers who publishes around 13 books a year, and his books never seem to move off the bestseller list. The New York Times notes that “From 2006 to 2010, Mr. Patterson’s books accounted for one out of every 17 hardcover novels purchased in the United States.”

“I’m rich; I don’t need to sell more books” said Patterson, who is particularly keen to ensure children have the opportunity to discover books in stores and libraries:

“I do think it’s essential for kids to read more broadly. And people just need to go into bookstores more. It’s not top of mind as much as it used to be.”

Those bookshops that have been successful in their applications are obviously thrilled. Linda Marie Barrett who runs Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C was both pleased and appreciative of Patterson’s understanding of her business, “I think it’s going to have a huge impact…He seems to be keenly aware that bookstores operate on small budgets.” Meanwhile Elaine Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage in the Bay Area noted that while Patterson’s contribution would not be a reliable source of income for the future, it would make a dream project come true: the purchase of a van for mobile author events and book fairs:

“We can’t have a business plan that says James Patterson is going to come along and give us something every year, but these are things that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. It wouldn’t mean we’d go out of business, but it would mean that this particular dream would be put off for a few years.”

In case anyone was in doubt about Patterson’s love for bookshops, yesterday he provided a statement about just how much respects their work and their contribution to the communities they serve:

“Every day, booksellers are out there saving our country’s literature. The work they do to support schools and the rest of their communities leaves a lasting love of reading in children and adults. I believe their work is vital to our future as a country. What are we if we don’t have our own literature? I couldn’t be happier to, very humbly, support booksellers in their mission. Maybe that’s because it’s my mission as well.”

A list of the initial bookshops that will receive Patterson’s funding are below. If any of them are local to you, you don’t have to a bestselling millionaire author to make a difference: drop by, say hello, and spend some cash on a nice book or two. And if your local bookshop didn’t make it onto the list? All the more reason to visit it.

A Whale of a Tale – Irvine, CA

Alamosa Books – Albuquerque, NM

Anderson’s – Naperville, IL

Andover Bookstore (Hugo Books) – Andover, MA

Bank Street Bookstore – New York, NY

Bookshop Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz,

Book Bin – Northbrook, IL

Book Culture -New York, NY

Book Passage – Corte Madera, CA

Book Revue – Huntington, NY

BookPeople – Austin, TX

Books & Books – Coral Gables, FL

Books & Greetings – Northvale, NJ

Books of Wonder – New York, NY

Booktenders – Doylestown, PA

Bookworks – Albuquerque, NM

Brazos Bookstore, Inc. – Houston, TX

Brewster Book Store – Brewster, MA

Broadside Book Shop – Northampton, MA

Browseabout Books – Rehoboth Beach, DE

Bookstore Day
Children’s Book World – Los Angeles, CA

Children’s Book World – Haverford, PA

Doylestown Bookshop – Doylestown, PA

Eighth Day Books – Wichita, KS

Gallery Bookshop/Bookwinkle Children – Mendocino, CA

Hicklebee’s – San Jose, CA

Innisfree Bookshop – Lincoln, NH

Lake Forest BookStore – Lake Forest, IL

Little Shop of Stories – Decatur, GA

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café – Asheville, NC

Mysterious Galaxy – Redondo Beach/San Diego, CA

Nicola’s Books – Ann Arbor, MI

Norwich Bookstore – Norwich, VT

Oblong Books – Millerton, NY

Odyssey Book Shop – South Hadley, MA

Old Firehouse Books – Fort Collins, CO

Page & Palette – Fairhope, AL

Park Road Books – Charlotte, NC

Parnassus Books – Nashville, TN

Percy’s Burrow – Topsham, ME

Phoenix Books – Essex Junction, VT

Porter Square Books – Cambridge, MA

Reading Reptile – Kansas City, MO

Red Balloon – St. Paul, MN

Russo’s Marketplace Books – Bakersfield, CA

Schuler Books and Music – Okemos, MI

Subterranean Books – St. Louis, MO

The Bookies – Denver, CO

The BookLoft – Great Barrington, MA

The Bookstore Plus – Lake Placid, NY

The Children’s Bookstore – Baltimore, MD

The Yellow Brick Road – San Diego, CA

Wellesley Books – Wellesley, MA

Wild Rumpus – Minneapolis, MN

Wonderland Books – Rockford, IL



Zeljka Marosevic is the managing director of Melville House UK.