December 16, 2015
James Patterson, publishing’s own Saint Nick, doles out bonuses to independent booksellers
by Kait Howard
James Patterson is playing Ol’ Saint Nick this year. The bestselling author, who is known for his philanthropic support for literacy and reading initiatives, has awarded holiday bonuses totaling $250,000 to 87 booksellers at independent bookshops around the country.
As Shelf Awareness reports, Patterson partnered with the American Booksellers Association (ABA) to award bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 to individuals who bring passion and expertise to their profession. Anyone—store owners, managers, or customers—could nominate an individual to receive a bonus. From this pool, Patterson chose the recipients.
In a statement published in the ABA publication Bookselling This Week, Patterson said:
“These grants and bonuses are my humble acknowledgment of some of the terrific work taking place in libraries and bookstores. Here’s to communities supporting their bookstores and libraries. Here’s to a country that makes reading a priority.”
The Associated Press’s Hillel Italie notes that, “Patterson has been proved as prolific at philanthropy as he [has] been at turning out novels.” Indeed, the bonuses are only the latest of Patterson’s donations to support a culture of reading. According Rosemary Hawkins at Bookselling This Week, Patterson pledged $1.75 million in grants to school libraries earlier this year. And in 2014, he gave $1 million in grants to hundreds of independent bookstores.
In interviews with Lynn Neary on NPR’s Morning Edition, several recipients of the bonuses expressed surprise and gratitude, and described plans to pay the gift forward. Anton Bogomazov of Politics & Prose in Washington, DC, will be using some of the money to buy Christmas gifts for his young child—most likely some new books—and Stephen Sparks of Green Apple Books in San Francisco hopes to use some of his bonus to buy gift certificates from the store for kids in need. Others, like Kevin Cassem of NYC’s McNally Jackson, expressed appreciation for their coworkers, saying “I feel really blessed and honored, but at the same time, these other folks I work with are really amazing.”
Kait Howard is a publicist at Melville House.